Search My Blogs

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Numbers 200 - 176, "The Teaches of Peaches"

It doesn't take terribly much inspection of the list so far to arrive at a particularly unfortunate conclusion: POLITICAL MUSIC IS DEAD TODAY.

Because there isn't even an otherwise ignored undercurrent of political activism to the contemporary music scene, such as has previously been the case since the 1950s.

In the 80s and 90s, the likes of U2 and Midnight Oil would routinely be presented as overtly "political" music. What's really being measured is the tradition of the "protest song". Bono and the Oils wrote protest music - songs that had an identified target and went for its political jugular.

Today, we have M.I.A., yes, but what's interesting is that the politics has migrated from the song itself and into the sphere of the singer's identity. M.I.A.'s music might reference "third world democracy" before singing "zoom-a-zoom-a-zoom-zoom", but the content is by and large not political, and not message-oriented. And as a sung message anyway, to a certain extent perhaps any statement has to be INHERENTLY trivial, and existentially banal.

Instead, as political activism in general has become more oriented to the personal and the realm of identity politics, so political music has become more discursive. So it's less about the transmission of opposition to 'monolithic others' to be shouted down via slogans and rhetoric, and more about cultural modes of resistance.

Peaches doesn't spend a huge amount of time opining on the discursive practices behind gender. Her lyrics don't celebrate queer cultures in the recognisable and overt way that say the Pet Shop Boys' "Go West" was an overt paean to them. The differene between "Go West" and "Fuck the Pain Away" is obvious from the song titles alone, and it exemplifies quite well the overall change that we are mapping. Peaches doesn't tell folks to go out and join queer collectives. But every element of her SELF, her identity, her persona is imbued with a radical counter-disourse towards some sort of similar EFFECT.

It's the difference between maintaining the illusion of the unitary, immutable power of the word, the truth, that which lends itself to structuralist analysis, and accepting a truly postmodern, discursive analytics. The two prescribe very different modes for effective political action.

And given Midnight Oil and U2 have resolutely failed to change the world through music, I would mount a case that a new, discursive political music stands just as good a chance of achieving something as the old modes we'd more directly recognise.

That said, I, a decrepit socialist find real meaning in connecting with the unitary, barricade-storming ballads that socialists have marched behind for hundreds of years. Billy Bragg, Phil Ochs and Joe Hill offer us a motherlode as historians of political songforms.

And because everything that's wrong with the world today is an inability to grasp the historical context of anything, well, where people stand up for their rights, Joe Hill is with us still. Joe Hill inspires us still.

200.Night (Radio Edit)Benga & CokiNight (2008)
199.Barely LegalThe StrokesIs This It? (2000)
198.Amazing it SeemsGranadaGranada (2005)
197.Get Myself Into ItThe RaptureGet Myself Into It (Comm Single) (2006)
196.Strict MachineGoldfrappBlack Cherry (2003)
195.The OrchidsCalifoneRoots & Crowns (2006)
194.The FuneralBand Of HorsesEverything All The Time (2006)
193.RuttenSkreamSkream! [Bonus Tracks] (2006)
192.FoolsThe DodosVisiter (2008)
191.Apocalypse SongSt. VincentMarry Me (2007)
190.C'MereInterpolAntics (2004)
189.PunchlinesMates Of StateBring It Back (2006)
188.Hang Me Up To DryCold War KidsUp In Rags [EP] (2006)
187.Lights OutSantigoldSantogold (2008)
186.Ten Years Or TwentyMoon Wiring ClubShoes Off And Chairs Away (2009)


185.New SlangThe ShinsOh, Inverted World (2001)
184.He's Alright [Bonus Track]Kurt VileChildish Prodigy (2009)
183.Are You The One?The PresetsBeams (2005)
182.Pure Pleasure SeekerMolokoThings To Make And Do (2000)
181.Banging CampThe Hold SteadySeparation Sunday (2005)
180.DanielBat For LashesTwo Suns (2009)
179.Fuck The Pain AwayPeachesThe Teaches Of Peaches (2000)
178.Thou Shalt Always KillDan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius PipAngles (2008)
177.Try AgainAaliyah Feat. TimbalandAaliyah (2005)
176.L.E.S. ArtistesSantigoldSantogold (2000)