You know things are getting serious when Moby, Franz Ferdinand, Cold War Kids and REM team up for a compilation. With the US Presidential election upon us, the shadow of Donald J Trump looms large. No introductions are needed here, and if they are – you lucky devil.
Due to the nature of what’s at stake, music has done what it does best – unite in the face of villainy. Starting back in early October, ’30 Days, 50 Songs’ (originally 30 Days, 30 Songs – Ed) consists of tracks that either have a direct reference to Trump’s life or the general impact a successful Presidential campaign could hold. It’s remarkably well done.
The first offering came in the form of Death Cab For Cutie’s ‘Million Dollar Loan’, which was presumably chosen due to its reference of Trump’s infamous loan from his father, i.e. where it all began.
Each artist manages to create politically charged tracks with no obvious signs of surrendering their artistic integrity. These are songs that quite easily fit into each artist’s respective discography, though of course the musical aspect isn’t the sole focus. There are even satirical elements to some of the tracks, particularly Aimee Mann (’Til Tuesday) with ‘Can’t Tell’. Taking on a first person form, it involves Trump telling us that he doesn’t actually want the job and doesn’t believe he can do it, something that rings worryingly true (see: can’t you tell / I’m unwell?).
One of the few non-American acts featured are the aforementioned Franz Ferdinand, with a classic stomping and biting track that brings new meaning to the term ‘post-punk’. With all of this happening to aide the American voters, the use of a non-American band is a statement that this election is just as important to the rest of the world too. Perhaps even more surprising is that nothing on this level has been created to inflict change on our turbulent shores.
Swedish songwriter Ledinksy is another non-American, though he has lived in the states for over a decade. The catchy title ‘DonaldTrumpMakesMeWannaSmokeCrack’ is, well… you can guess. Plus the video features Avenue Q, the rude puppets – the Youtube comments section is a veritable fun house of Trump supporters.
Some of these tracks weren’t purposefully created for the compilation. In fact some were previously written with a different president in mind. Josh Ritter’s ‘The Temptation of Adam’ took aim at the George W. Bush administration. Though they survived that time, it’s reared it’s ugly head again with the threat of Trump.
Another big hitter that appears is The National’s Matt Berninger’s side project EL-VY. ‘Are These My Jets?’, a sleazy, bass driven track it perfectly encapsulates Trumps demeanour with the unforgettable lyrics “I like to mix ladies’ drinks with my fingers”. Also, yes, Walrus penis jewellery is a thing. A thing you can buy. Don’t search for it.
In case you couldn’t tell, the serious moments are few and far between. Combating impending doom with a serious voice simply wouldn’t have the same effect. This shows most in ‘Trumpy Trump’, where comedy is the strongest front. “He’s got super speed / and he can turn invisible / he’s a ladies man / he’s got the eyes of a hawk”, it ironically claims. If comedic punk rock isn’t your thing then just wait till the end where they give a pretty accurate statement, referring to the option of Hillary Clinton as “meh”.
Across the coverage of the project, comments are littered with Trump supporters calling out the acts. An Entertainment Weekly article introducing the project was lambasted with an endearing comment, “you musicains (sic) that are doing this garbage, i’m sure that nobody is buying your cd’s anyway. What a bunch of no talent idiots. I”M VOTING FOR TRUMP” while a Rolling Stone article on Franz Ferdinand’s contribution featured “It looks like RS has redefined journalism. now any old fossil that disses Trump is a story. maybe thats why they are going under”.
With both the reaction and the strength of the contributors, perhaps music can still inflict change. Projects such as this may even birth new inspirational ideas to those who are scared or sick of the way the world is currently turning politically. It’s been a while, but maybe music isn’t resigned to just an entertainment platform, with only a few hours to go, we’ll know soon enough.