The times are a-changin’ ... again – pop gets its protest mojo ...

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The times are a-changin’ ... again – pop gets its protest mojo back

Little doom-monger Greta Thunberg is helping bring back the protest song in all its terrifying glory

Jake Kerridge

Pop music is getting cross again. This week The 1975, the Manchester indie band that manages to ride the two horses of trendiness and mainstream popularity, has released the opening track (also called The 1975) from its forthcoming album, and it features a speech from the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.

The Swedish doom-monger spends a full five minutes talking about the imminent death of the planet and it’s the most terrifying spoken-word sample used in a pop song since Frankie Goes to Hollywood appropriated actor Patrick Allen’s voice for their 1984 hit, Two Tribes, an exuberant meditation about nuclear war.

That song came at the fag-end of a golden period for protest songs in the pop mainstream; 35 years on, we may be at the start of a resurgence of pop that tries to make us look outwards rather than inwards. Just this week, the Mercury Prize shortlist featured the rappers Dave, who won an Ivor Novello award for a song attacking Theresa May, and slowthai, who rails against Brexit...

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