These Female Artists Are Using Music to Get Political
Whether it’s Bob Marley’s rally cry “Get Up Stand Up,” John Lennon’s peace anthem “Imagine,” or Patti Smith’s self-explanatory hit “People Have the Power,” music and politics have always been inextricably linked (just look at a little festival called Woodstock if you don’t believe us). But since the November 2016 presidential election, more and more musicians have been, to quote Marley, getting up, standing up, and...speaking out against Donald Trump and his agenda.
As Kelli Mayo of Oklahoma rockers Skating Polly explained, “It’s weird because there are so many political things that I am against right now—terrified of, frankly—so I can’t not speak out.” Others (so many others!) feel the same way. Check out more female music stars using their voices in powerful ways, then add them to your playlist asap. The resistance is only beginning.
Skating Polly: Fronted by step-sisters Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse, this group specializes in the self-created genre of “ugly pop,” inspired by the Riot Grrrl movement and infused with a sound that’s entirely their own. “Even when we're trying to study for a test or practice for a show, looking pretty is always supposed to be at the back of our minds,” guitarist and vocalist Kelli said. “I came up with the term 'ugly pop' and our first song, 'Ugly,' is about owning that." These teens are no strangers to tracks about feminism and smashing the patriarchy, but their latest track "Hail Mary" ups the political ante. “If I start getting freaked out about everyday stresses and then I’m reminded that we have a Trump presidency, it really disturbs me,” Kelli said. “It made me think I need to make my art more political.”
The Regrettes: This L.A. rock band, whose members still happen to be in high school, are total badasses. We suspected as much when we chatted with lead singer Lydia Night, and then it was confirmed with the release of the group’s new track “Seashore.” The tune from their ingeniously-titled debut album Feel Your Feelings Fool! includes defiant lyrics like “Hey, I’ve got news, I’m not a little girl...and I’ll still kick your ass even in my skirt.” The accompanying video time-travels through history to showcase women taking back the narrative. “I initially dedicated this song to Donald Trump due to him being a bully,” Lydia explained. “The video represents resistance. Given the fact that people in those time periods couldn’t stand up for themselves, I wanted to make sure that I’m always standing up for things that I believe in and for myself.”
Ella Vos: Peppered with a sing-along chorus and dreamy pop melody, this California singer’s track “You Don’t Know About Me” could be mistaken for just another indie anthem. Until you actually listen to the lyrics, that is. The pro-choice song’s directed to men who think they have control over women’s bodies. As Ella has put it, “This is my body. About learning to be strong. About not letting anyone tell me who I should or shouldn’t be.” Preach.
Need more music? Look no further than the new compilation albums (and there are a lot of them!). Leading up to the election, dozens of artists lent their voices to the anti-Trump playlist 30 Songs, 30 Days, including Death Cab for Cutie, Fiona Apple, and Arcade Fire. Indie faves from Angel Olsen to Mitski to Julien Baker also got together to contribute to the First 100 Days Album. Not only does this post-election compilation of songs inspire progress and change, its proceeds go toward a good cause. Speaking of good causes? 7 Inches For Planned Parenthood, a curated series of tracks from Sleater-Kinney, St. Vincent, Chvrches, and more that benefits the org. Consider your summer (and your resistance) soundtrack covered.