The presidency will either go to The Maniac or The Machine. If your side wins, I’m fucked. If my side wins, you’re fucked. Maybe the problem isn’t you or me. Maybe the problem is a centralized government with the capacity to fuck the opposition.
But that’s all politics, and who wants to talk politics on Election Day? The most important thing is that we have tunes to hum as the ship goes down.
1. Leonard Cohen – “Democracy”
This nonpartisan troubadour assures us:
I love the country but I can’t stand the scene
I’m neither left or right
I’m just staying home tonight
Getting lost in that hopeless little screen
You and me both, brother. I recommend Oxycontin or cyanide to soothe your aching text-neck.
As a Canadian, Leonard Cohen isn’t supposed to vote on Tuesday, but he can always hold out hope for our great nation. Although, in a country where the DNC simply hand-picks their nominee and a billionaire can muscle his way onto the Republican ticket, it’s unclear when this “democracy” will actually make it to the USA.
2. Rammstein – “Mein Land”
After the Hart-Celler Immigration Act was passed in 1965, uncomfortable questions started coming up in the public square, such as: what does it mean to change the demographic face of a nation in a single generation?
I’ve never been sure if this video is mocking America’s increasing ethnic diversity or poking fun at our fears. The scene begins with tanned dudes carousing with various women of the world and having fun in the sun. Come nightfall (five decades later), the party descends into fire, chaos, and pissed off white men in corpsepaint. Enjoy.
3. M.I.A. – “Born Free”
“Maya” Arulpragasam grew up in shadow of the Sri Lankan Civil War. Her activist father was allied with the Tamil Tigers—the Marxist revolutionaries whose penchant for suicide bombing actually took the heat off of jihadists. Her family eventually fled to India, and then to Britain, where the young artist was free to develop her talents and voice her social critiques.
In this short film, M.I.A. envisions a homicidal police state targeting people according to their genotypes. Squads of sadistic dudebros are armed up to their swollen necks and authorized to eliminate deplorables however they choose.
What does this have to do with the 2016 Election? We’ll see.
4. Guns N’ Roses – “One in a Million”
Running on ego and pure instinct, Axl Rose articulated most of Trump’s talking points on his 1988 album Lies. The lyrics include derisive statements about women, non-heteronormative males, random black people on the street, and various recent arrivals to our teeming shores, particularly Persians.
Polite society was appalled by the frontman’s Midwestern bigotry, but you can’t just burn all the records in the world, nor can you kill all the shitty white people. And so it is that “One in a Million” still strikes a dissonant chord in the dark heart of crackerdom.
Given the nastiness of human nature, none of this should be surprising. If anything, we should be amazed that this “gender non-binary” rockstar was able to survive in L.A. for so long given his overt hostility toward street vendors and law enforcement.
5. Jan Böhmermann – “Grab US by the Pussy”
We all know there are retrograde Germans and there are Angela Merkel’s Germans. I’ll go out on a limb and bet that Rammstein vocalist Till Lindemann is not a hardcore Merkelian, and that our man Jan Böhmermann is, at least for now.
Jan is ready to fuck the Patriarchy. And who knows, if Trump actually bumbles his way into office, maybe the toupeed president will honor the singer’s request, with or without a Tic Tac.
6. Lilly Allen – “Fuck You”
Men fear that Hillary Clinton represents women who want to smash through the glass ceiling and neuter Axl Rose with the jagged shards. Even sweet butterflies like Lily Allen are giving the finger to The Man.
Lily has heard enough about The Straight White Male’s hang-ups with “immigrants and faggots.” She’s done with guns and she’s tired of roses. She’s ready for the cosmos to start sprouting rainbows. And in the magical realm of identity politics, the brightest rainbows grow from the rotting carcass of bigotry.
Therefore it’s gorgeously ironic that Lily is “sick and tired of the hatred you harbor” so:
Fuck you very very much
‘Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please don’t stay in touch
If Hillary wins and glass shards start flying, Lily is with her.
7. Marilyn Manson – “1996”
Twenty years after its recording, Antichrist Superstar is depressingly prescient. The album’s brutal climax sounds like a Hillary-Donald duet set to the rhythm of endless drone strikes:
I am the anti-flag unfurled
Here is my anti-president gun
I can’t believe in the things
That don’t believe in me
Now it’s your turn
To see what I hate about me
This spoken word rendition of the original track takes us back to an era when rock stars died for your sins and music was made to smash your fucking face in. Take notes, Lily.
8. John Lennon – “Imagine”
Hazy white light blurs the boundaries between John and Yoko, inner and outer, the one and the many. By the end of the song, we can imagine there are no countries, no borders, no weapons, no locked doors, no need for search warrants, no epidermis, no white blood cells, nothing but all the people sharing the world and living as one.
Certainly, the traditional lines are being blurred. In today’s America, provincial yahoos are willing to put a New York huckster in the White House, while cosmopolitan liberals are cheering on a country girl from Arkansas. During the Cold War, American right-wingers were staring down Russian leftists. Today, America’s liberal elite openly deride Russia’s authoritarian leader as a cypto-fascist while testing his military resolve in the Middle East.
In some sense, Lennon’s dream is coming true. As empires expand, old boundaries dissolve and a new world order emerges.
9. Neil Diamond – “Coming to America”
Like Leonard Cohen, the insanely successful Neil Diamond grew up in a working class Jewish family whose hard work paid off. His family immigrated from Russia and Poland, where most Jews could expect persecution by Communists and Nazis, respectively. America gave these artists the freedom and space to write songs and drop panties with abandon.
Unlike protectionist Trump-voters, Neil Diamond doesn’t want to keep all of this freedom and space for himself. For nearly a century, America has boasted the largest economy, the strongest military, and the most popular songs in the world. Why shouldn’t the other 6.5 billion people on the planet be able to get their slice of the pie?
10. Ruben Obed – “The Latino Trump Anthem”
In his 1995 State of the Union address, Bill Clinton declared that U.S. citizens were “rightly disturbed by the large number of illegal aliens entering our country” and promised to drive them back. But who can remember that far?
Today, Hillary Clinton is her own woman. According to emails released by Wikileaks, her staff appeals to “needy Latinos” whenever their votes are needed. This strategy will be crucial for the next generation of politicians.
That doesn’t mean we can just stereotype, though. “Latinos” are not some unified, homogeneous electorate to be manipulated at will. Given the heated reactions to Trump’s brainless “rapist” comment, it’s hard to believe that a Puerto Rican musician would write a campaign song for The Donald. But I swear to el Dios this musician exists, and his name is Ruben Obed.
11. dead prez – “Police State”
Last week Dave Chappelle skewered Hillary Clinton for being a hypocrite: “She’s going to be on a coin someday. And her behavior has not been coin-worthy. She’s not right and we all know she’s not right.”
The same southern Democrat who eulogized a former Klansman in 2010 now calls for the black church’s support. On the other side, a crude tycoon asks black Americans for their votes, then snorts: “What do you have to lose?”
From slavery to segregation to lynchings to redlining to drug wars to broken communities to hostile cops to mass incarceration, the capricious State proves to be a cruel master. M1 and stic don’t have time for The Monster or The Machine. Unlike the ultra-wealthy pop stars tasked with channeling rebellion into entertainment, when dead prez advocate revolution, they ain’t playin’.
12. Scott Biram – “Judgment Day”
Working class whites have caught hell the last couple of decades, facing rampant overdoses, crumbling communities, evaporating jobs, and the fashionable scorn of the nation. There are presently over 450,000 white people in prison, whites make up roughly two thirds of all Americans shot by the cops each year, and we’re the only American demographic seeing a drop in life expectancy.
Rustic folks remain invisible to polished academics and urbane pundits. Sophisticates have nothing to gain from acknowledging the struggles of lesser white people. Even pop country stars have turned the plight of the American hillbilly into vacuous pap for the masses.
Is it any wonder so many whites have fallen for The Donald’s cynical appeal to identity politics?
Thank God that Hiram Biram, the “dirty old one man band,” has maintained his cosmic consciousness along with a streak of apocalyptic wish-fulfillment.
13. Black Sabbath – “Electric Funeral”
It’s hard to say which would be worse: if he pushed the button in a blind rage, or if she did after cold calculations.
America, it doesn’t matter if you’re a sociopath. Vote your conscience!
Shout out to the Fertile Turtle, Chachi Montana, Trev-o-Tron, the Bush Bush, and Il Tinio Scarficci for throwing records on the turntable.