How the next U.S. President could affect music

As I love statistics and analysis – especially the kind that other people do the hard work on – books like Freakonomics and Gittonomics are great for exposing the sometimes cute, sometimes weird, sometimes seedy reality underneath the glib catchphrases and slogans of modern marketing.

One study I’d pay to see, even though it’s probably impossible to quantify, is the relationship between politics and popular music in any society. Whilst the two seem diametrically opposed, put some thought to …

  • Late 60s, early 70s: LBJ and Nixon’s Vietnam War leads to a wave of protest songs …
  • Late 70s: Democrat, Liberal Jimmy Carter – Disco, baby!
  • Early 1980s: Reagan, Thatcher, Gordon Gekko, me me me – videos of smartly dressed popstars smashing expensive crockery (Duran Duran springs to mind)
  • Early 1990s: G.H.W.Bush the elder brings up Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder raging against the point of it all …

Personally, I’d then argue that Bill Clinton’s election, and the subsequent years of American prosperity, killed off a brave new art form just as it was getting going. Who knows what the next step down was from flannelette shirts as a fashion leader? In addition, I blame this era – and Clinton personally – for allowing rap, hip hop and the like to become the dominant musical form since.

Bush the younger – with another war, surprise surprise – revived Eddie Vedder, the Dixie Chicks, and a whole batch of protest songs. Which makes the next U.S. election a cultural timebomb: with Obama or Clinton likely to win, and the alternative the seemingly sensible John McCain, who’s going to lead America into the sort of unilateral geostrategic stupidity that writes it’s own lyrics?

So keep watch. And in the meantime … enjoy Eddie:

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