OPINION: Music can change the world

Musicians impact our opinions


Graphic Carey Davis

Maggie Del Re, A&E Editor

We sat in the basement, my phone softly playing punk hero Jeff Rosenstock’s “Festival Song.” My friend tapped his foot to the beat, grinning. “This song is a jam!” he said.

I couldn’t help but giggle. The song that we were casually bopping along to is actually very political, and pretty depressing too. Rosenstock screams against “the establishment,” condemns consumerism, and calls for the wealthy, politicians, and regular folks alike to break the materialistic and greedy society we’ve built and to accept people for who they are rather than what they have.

Of course, music has long been a way for people to voice their opinion on important topics.

In the ‘60s Bob Dylan used the power of music to define several social issues such as the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. John Lennon’s 1969 “Give Peace a Chance” also encouraged fans to oppose the war, and actually changed people’s perspectives on the important topic. In the 80’s, Bruce Springsteen chimes with “Born in the U.S.A”, criticizing the treatment of American soldiers.

Here in 2016, music continues to be used as a tool to persuade. With the upcoming election, several musicians are voicing their opinions on the candidates with tracks like “I Might Vote For Donald Trump” by JPEGMAFIA or YG’s “FDT”.

And as a self-proclaimed music lover, I can definitely say that there are more recent tracks or albums that have changed my views on issues concerning America today.

For example, a healthy mix of Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly,” Ab-Soul’s “Terrorist Threats,” and Noname’s “Casket Pretty,” among others, completely shifted my views on the Black Lives Matter movement.

As a white American raised in the suburbs, I previously found it difficult to relate race issues to my own life, and therefore they were difficult for me to understand. I thought all lives mattered and couldn’t understand why any one race needed to be singled out.

However, hearing these heartfelt cries from people who actually have experienced racism changed my opinion. I realized that being black in the wrong place can legitimately be dangerous, and there is nothing okay or fair about that. These artists showed me the need for a movement specifically for people of color.

This change of perspective is a pretty big deal. Music has the power over what I think; how I act.

People in positions of fame are in positions of power. It’s imperative that musicians do continue to use this power to evoke thought and change. And, it’s imperative to us as listeners to occasionally listen to the music, look into the meaning, and see if we can learn something new from the art that we already love so much.