Musicians getting involved in politics is nothing new, in fact, socio-political music has been a mainstay in the industry since the turn of the 20th century when labor movements, followed by civil unrest and the civil rights movement, aimed their words at the oppressive establishment. This continued into the counter culture of the ’60s and persists to this very day.
Over the past year, however, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in artists vocalizing their opinions, political views, and overall disgust with the current political landscape. It has become clear that, as a musician with an incredible soapbox on which to stand, expressing your political ideologies can be a major key to connecting with the fans, or alienating yourself from them.
Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Kanye West, to name a few, are among the most elite of the industry who do not hesitate to share their political grievances and heap praise on those they support. During her tour for Lemonade, Beyoncé adorned the famous pantsuit worn by Presidential runner-up Hilary Clinton, urging her fans to vote for Hilary. The night before the election, Beyoncé posted a picture of her with a backdrop reading “VOTE,” clearly showing the crowd who she was behind in the election. What’s more, Lemonade is a political statement that touches on the hardships of race, relationships and infidelity, while placing emphasis on the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Her feminist approach in releasing this album was a politically risky move, as taking an album and taking a turn to a more artistic expressive creation doesn’t always go over well, just look at “The Life of Pablo” for reference.
Lady Gaga is not one to hold her tongue when it comes to politics, either. She was one of the most involved artists who supported Hilary Clinton from the beginning. Gaga rallied alongside Clinton and many others to sing and speak about political views. There was no stopping Gaga when she declared, “Hillary Clinton is made of steel. Hillary Clinton is unstoppable.” The night Hillary lost the election, Gaga was sternly holding a sign that read “Love trumps hate.” She also took to Instagram to share her own image of her protest, adding the caption, “I want to live in a #CountryOfKindness #LoveTrumpsHate He divided us so carelessly. Let’s take care now of each other.” Nothing matters more to Lady Gaga then her political standpoint. It was more than just and artist protesting for selfish reasons for publicity.
Her expression of sadness and grief that came with Trump’s victory was shown in its truest form, while presented on a platform which, in a way, expanded her audience. After her posts, Gaga was a trending topic for over 24 hours on both Twitter and Facebook.
On the other hand, Kanye West publically showed his support for Trump. On stage in San Jose, Kanye West said he admired Donald Trump’s election campaign and would have voted for him, according to multiple videos and social media reports. “I told y’all I didn’t vote, right?” Kanye said. “But if I would’ve voted, I would’ve voted on Trump.”
A poignant question raised by the recent uptick in musicians being politically active is such:
Is this major political turning point stirring a new wave of promotional outlets for artists?
Maybe. Digging deeper, some find themselves asking if it is okay for artists to be so vocal about whom they stand for and what they stand for. That is a topic that can be argued forever, but freedom of speech and press in this country makes it perfectly legal, regardless of whether you like it or not. If as an artist, you feel that getting involved with politics can help rather than hinder your audience, go for it. Taking a stand and fighting for what you believe in is one of the closest ways you could get to your fans; it helps connect on a deeper level rather than the surface, showing your true colors for the world to see.
[Featured Image: ETOnline]