Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America. No matter how many times you read it, that sentence does not make sense. It’s like an impossible equation with no solution, a foreign language with no translation, ones and zeroes with no screen to view them on. Unfortunately, it’s our reality. That reality is one based in hatred, violence, bigotry, and fear. It’s those same qualities that gave rise to something so absurd as Brexit, and may yet contribute to an uprising of the neo-nazi ‘alt-right’ across the rest of Europe.

It’s exceptionally privileged to say, “well at least music will get better”, because this ignores the extreme danger that so many marginalised people face. 6music playing some banging tunes does not forgive any administration that willingly endangers and risks the lives of any of its people. However, art can inspire action more than any politician or party, so it’s important that we listen to our peers, work with our neighbours, and carry messages of love, acceptance, positivity, and equality around with us in our everyday lives.

Anything less will not suffice.

If music has the power to save lives, then it damn sure has the power to fight hate.

Instead of just presenting a ‘Here’s Some Songs We’re Loving This Week’ that no one will give a toss about, here are some songs that might just carry you through another depressing week on Planet Earth (or ‘Planet Earth II’).

Gorillaz – Hallelujah Money (feat. Benjamin Clementine)

Everyone’s favourite cartoon band are back, coinciding with the beginning of a cartoon presidency. No, not Alvin & the Chipmunks, though that’d probably still make the Stereo Tonic.

Of course, Gorillaz have re-descended upon reality to admonish us of our sins, and ‘Hallelujah Money’ is exactly the kind of curveball you’d expect from a band whose last album came out during Barack Obama’s second year in office. The title doesn’t go unnoticed on the day that Donald Trump enriches himself to unprecedented amounts, having paid his way to the most powerful position in the world.

English musician and poet Benjamin Clementine stars on the protest track, with his deep baritone lending itself to the lyrical doom and gloom that unfolds, as well as a damning verse of spoken word that forms the central message of the song.

“Don’t worry, my friend, if this be the end, then so shall it be. Until we say so, nothing will move. Ah, don’t worry, it’s not against our morals, it’s legal tender. Touch, my friend, while the whole world and whole beasts of nations desire power.”

In truth, there’s not much that’s recognisably or undoubtedly ‘Gorillaz’ about ‘Hallelujah Money’. Damon Albarn’s trademark drawl is only a backing vocal to Clementine’s lead, and the song is majorly comprised of synth work and other electronics. You won’t find an indie club classic like you used to, nor is there any sentimentality such as there was on ‘Plastic Beach’. But in a world that’s unrecognisable to our frozen-in-time counterparts Murdoc, 2D, Russell, and Noodle, it’s fitting that their sound has taken a dystopian twist as well.

“How will we know? When the morning comes we are still human.”

MUNA – Crying on the Bathroom Floor

For a band who have featured twice in the Stereo Tonic already, there’s no way that MUNA weren’t going to feature again with new single ‘Crying on the Bathroom Floor’. Always great at galvanising the voices of the helpless and hopeless, MUNA’s latest rallying cry is less a call to arms and more a call to love. Teaching self-love and acceptance is one of the keys to progressing as a society, and something that is sorely absent from our day-to-day lives.

It’s this kind of commentary that inspires rather than bemoans; “Give me that diamond ring, give me that love on a movie screen, and I won’t feel a thing, promise I won’t feel a thing” croons singer Katie Gavin, indicating a lack of relatability with the Hollywood ideal of love and happiness, but still demanding of a better alternative. The dark, brooding synths that weave their way round her impassioned vocals are augmented by understated guitars, four-to-the-floor drum beats and the now-traditional BIG chorus that you can expect with any MUNA release.

The LA three piece – also comprising Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson – seem to have nailed down a formula for their music; unifying lyrics, huge pop production, intimate harmonies, and a motivation for us all to be better. Whatever they’re doing, it’s working. Hopefully one day we’ll have a President that’d invite MUNA to their inauguration and, more importantly, share their beliefs.

Valerie June – Two Hearts

Almost nobody has a better voice than Valerie June. Sweet, heartfelt and emotional, it’s the exact right balance of soulfulness you expect from a Tennessee native without straying too far into country rock territory. ‘Two Hearts’ is the first release from her fourth album, but only her second since a breakout performance on Later…with Jools Holland in 2012.

June’s style is exactly the type of performance that works on that show; stripped-back, relaxed, and with plenty of room to breathe. It’s something that rings true for all of June’s music, with emphasis on ‘Two Hearts’; sparse instrumentation sings in unison with the ashy voice of June, the daughter of a former gospel music promoter, and it’s easy to see where her influences have shaped her most.

Complete with organs, always-building drums and breezy acoustic guitars, this love song is as easy to relate to as they come. “See I’d learned to live alone // A quiet house keeps a weak mind strong // Though I’d settled in my ways // It’s mighty fine waking to your face”. Isolation is only as good as the people you’re isolating yourself from, so love one another. Moreover, listen to this song, because it’s very good.

Spoon – Hot Thoughts

Austin’s best band (sorry White Denim) have returned on cue with ‘Hot Thoughts’, taken from their upcoming ninth (!) album of the same name. Such stagnating staleness that you’d associate with a band on their way to double digit records is absent here though, as strings and off-kilter guitars feature prominently, along with an irresistibly-danceable drum and bass combo.

Spoon have always sounded best when they don’t seem to give a fuck, and if you don’t give a fuck then you’re probably quite likely to write a song filled with lewd and obvious metaphors for sexytime.

Exhibit A: “That drag drug from your lips, making you think how good it was to let baby kiss on the lows // Hot thoughts melting your cool // All on my mind and all of the time.

If frontman Britt Daniel’s soft delivery doesn’t have you rushing for a cold shower in the immediate, then you’re probably dead inside, sorry. ‘Hot Thoughts’ happens to be one of Spoon’s hottest records in a long time, and if we’re living through the end times then we might as well HAVE IT OFF WITH EACH OTHER, RIGHT??????????

East of My Youth – Words

Ronan Keating once said, “It’s only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away”. He didn’t say it so much as he sung, and there were some other Irish blokes there too, but for the purpose of my dreams let’s just go with Roney-boy himself. If words are all any of us have, then East of My Youth have done a bloody good job of taking my heart away with theirs.

The Icelandic pop duo (you already know it’s going to be great) have smashed it out of the park with ‘Words‘, a song so dripping in emotion that you’ll be hard pushed to not find something to relate to here. There’s manipulated vocals, rumbling synths, soaring melodies, and pretty much everything else you’d expect from a group that describe themselves as either being from Reykjavik or the Moon. No joke. Frankly, you’re a fool if you don’t believe them when they tell you, “Everything is gonna be alright now”.

The Superweaks – No Sorrow

Sometimes you just need a good bit of garage rock ‘n’ raucousness to get you through the shit, and Philadelphia’s rowdiest boys have you covered. The Superweaks master the noise and nonsense to bring you ‘No Sorrow‘, a heartfelt, mournful apology written in seeming regret. Wondering what could’ve been different might be an especially prevalent feeling for all of us over the next four years (if we live that long), so it might be best to bookmark this one.

“Frustrated, I can’t take it, I wish I could get away.”

Forming part of a split release with Thin Lips and Modern Baseball, ‘No Sorrow‘ combines punk rock urgency with almost college rock melodic sense, as guitars chug and drums thump behind Evan Bernard’s surprisingly fragile vocal tone. Catch them in February on their European tour, before they become the latest sensation across DIY zines and student radio stations everywhere.

Lee England Jr. – are We The People

In between playing violin at WWE events and signing with Michael Jordan’s shoe brand, Lee England Jr. is writing extraordinary social commentaries that feel tragically even more apt with every waking day. The Illinois-born, L.A.-based composer and vocalist’s latest take addresses the very real need for conversation about the U.S. constitution, specifically, arms-bearing laws that have led to the need for the Black Lives Matter movement – notice the careful grammar in the song title.

They killin’ us in the streets // Even let us see,” England rhymes. “The put the shit on TV // The revolution’s being televised // I thought it wasn’t gonna be televised.

To be honest, any single stanza, verse, couplet, or line from the song is equally worth noting, as beautiful strings intercept angry (and completely accurate) accusations that the media turn a blind eye to such human rights crises. “I could see with my eyes and it comes as no surprise that the media lies” says England, and his soulful voices adds a sense of tragic urgency to the track; “What we call freedom ain’t freedom at all”.

The apocalypse might be well and truly here, but at least we still have the music. For now.

In all seriousness, if shit’s got you down then memes, Facebook shares, and petitions aren’t enough. Actions speak louder than words, and I’ve said a lot of bloody words here, so make sure that the actions are as plentiful. As the world races itself to the finishing line of existence by seeing who can fuck up the furthest, your civil liberties and basic fucking human rights are going to be violated, torn up, and pissed on. Here is a list of organisations (h/t Jezabel) that are fighting and doing vital work to ensure that citizens of our planet are treated fairly, legally, democratically, and humanely. If you are able to, please donate whatever you can afford. If you’re unable to, then please try to spread the word. A lot of those organisations operate internationally, or deal with affairs that will greatly affect international policies for years to come – the time for complacency is over, the time for activism is right now.

Good luck, enjoy these perhaps-insignificant mere moments of pop, rock, and pop-rock brilliance and I’ll see you next week.

About The Author

Mark Riley

Always pick the Fire starter-Pokemon.