Under The Radar’s Top 10 Protest Songs Of The 21st Century

We’re only eight years into the 21st Century, so it’s understandable Under The Radar kept this list to 10. It’s part of “The Protest Issue 2008,” which comes with one of two covers, unless you go wild and buy both. One features Colin Meloy, Chris Walla, and Britt Daniel looking Presidential, the other’s Michael Stipe and Isaac Brock looking older and Presidential. Yes, the sausage party’s to the right, but the inside of the magazine’s more balanced, featuring an array of musicians with their homemade protest signs: My Brightest Diamond, Okkervil River, Wayne Coyne, St. Vincent, Built To Spill, Sharon Jones, Akron/Family, the Dresden Dolls, Stars, Talib Kweli, Elbow, Chuck D (“Fight the Power ‘of course'”), etc., all stand up and get counted. Best sign goes to Fleet Foxes: “Capitalism I$ Unethical (And We’re Hypocrites).” Brock’s, too: “Protests Only Work If The People You Are Protesting Give A Shit About What You Think.” Hey, it’s just as long as a Modest Mouse album title. OK, speaking of protest, here are those previously mentioned top 10 protest songs.

10 Bruce Springsteen – “How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live” (2006)
09 Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – “What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes” (2002)
08 Elbow – “Leaders Of The Free World” (2005)
07 Sleater-Kinney – “Combat Rock” (2002)
06 Arcade Fire – “Intervention” (2007)
05 Kris Kristofferson – “In The News” (2006)
04 Talib Kweli And Cornel West – “Bushonomics” (2007)
03 Tom Waits – “Hoist That Rag” (2004)
02 Jarvis Cocker – “Cunts Are Still Running The World” (2006)
01 Bright Eyes – “When The President Talks To God” (2005)

System Of A Down and Propagandhi are pissed. Actually, keeping it to the 21st Century is tough. How about Fugazi’s “The Argument” or another track from that album? Wilco’s “Ashes of American Flags”? Or, remember this? Anyhow, nice to get both “cunts” and Cock(er) in one line. Each selection comes with a brief writeup. This is what we get for number one, Conor Oberst:

If a protest song is sung to those who are already of the same mind, does anyone really hear it? That was of no consequence when Conor Oberst stepped onto the stage on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and performed the venomous “When The President Talks To God” for the nation. Sample lyrics: “When the president talks to God … Does he ask to rape our women’s rights / And send poor farm kids off to die?”

Remember that song? The kid’s got a new album, too. You can get more info on the summer/protest issue of Under The Radar at their website.