For years, many of us at MTV News headquarters have been lamenting (OK, complaining ad nauseam) that the music community has been way too tame in protesting the sorry state of our world. Sure, acts like Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Green Day, the Dixie Chicks, Nas and Pearl Jam have released protest songs and said things from the stage that have either gotten them censored (Pearl Jam at the 2007 Lollapalooza), or, in the Chicks' case, hounded by their own fans.
But sometimes we wish we'd never said anything and instead just encouraged artists to stick to what they do best — making pretty songs and insisting we not look them in the eye when they pass us backstage. A few cases in point:
Madonna: The pop icon has been railing against Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain and his running mate almost nightly on her current Sticky & Sweet Tour.
First, she banned Palin from attending her concerts (not that the Alaskan governor was going to get within shooting range of one anyway). Then, during a show this week, she dropped an impromptu verse that confirmed a few things for us: Madonna probably doesn't realize what kind of muscle it takes to field dress a moose, Madonna fans will clap along to anything, and saying you're going to kick someone's ass and then adding the caveat "It's nothing personal, I love her soul" kinda defeats the purpose.
Art Alexakis: Then there's our old friend Art, singer for Everclear, who never met a controversy he couldn't try to create from scratch, preferably one having to do with Jesus. Alexakis' latest cry for attention is the free online tune "Jesus Was a Democrat," which his publicist described as "Alexakis tackles religious and political hypocrisy head-on with lyrical vibrancy and epic rock n' roll swagger."
A few choice lines:
"If Jesus was a democrat like the bible says he was" (Really? I missed that chapter.)
"If Jesus was alive today he would be sad to see/ That it is no different than it used to be" (You mean his 401(k) was also wiped out a Biblical mortgage market meltdown?)
"I think Jesus would have been a card-carrying liberal/ If he was a young man born in the U.S.A./ He would not be "fiscally conservative"/ And he wouldn't vote for John McCain" (I bet that sounded way smoother in your head than it does in the outside world.)
Aaron Tippin: Yeah, we were on board when the Village-People-mustache-sporting country singer released the America, F--- Yeah! song "You've Got to Stand for Something," back in the '90s and the post-9/11 "Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagle Fly." And we, frankly, didn't really notice when he put out "Drill Here, Drill Now" a year ago, way before Palin and McCain got their people shouting "Drill, Baby, Drill!"
But now that the song is getting a new life thanks to Palin's drill-happy speeches, we went and looked at the lyrics:
"Now I don't know what a gallon of gas costs up on Capitol Hill/ But we sure know what it cost down here in Reality-ville/And the damage already done has been a mighty heavy toll/ And if we're gonna fix it, we gotta start right here at home. Drill here, drill now/ How 'bout some oil from our own soil that belongs to us anyhow/ No more debatin', we're tired of waitin'/ Everybody shout out loud/ Drill here, drill now"
Really, Aaron? Reality-ville? I hope that's not anywhere near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, because it's gonna take years to get that oil flowing. Really.