Riot Riot Upstart: Songs For The UK Riots
A few days ago, in the midst of the worst of the rioting going on around London, which has now dominated the headlines for the better part of a week, someone on Twitter remarked "If Americans rioted every time the cops shot somebody we'd have no time for cocaine and jerking off."
That made Rocks Off snicker, but it was also a sadly true statement, aside from the coke and onanism. Substitute Subway and So You Think You Can Dance for those two on this side of the pond and you see what he means.
The shooting of reported London criminal Mark Duggan at the hands of undercover police in Tottenham is at the center of it all. Watchdogs and early forensic tests are stating that Duggan didn't fire on police. His death brought violence and mayhem on the British capital that hasn't been seen in decades.
Small businesses, houses, and historical sites have been burned down, people have been assaulted, and a general unlawfulness has been ruling the streets. Apparently Tuesday night saw a quelling in the action, although the unrest has now spread to other cities like Birmingham and Manchester.
Rocks Off doesn't condone rioting of any kind. True, it may came from abject poverty, general injustice and, in Duggan's case, police misconduct, but in the process it hurts innocent people who are going about their own lives without harming others, just trying to survive. Rioting shows a lack of maturity and order, and the reasons behind the violent acts are lost in the flames and bloodshed.
Protest, scream, and boycott all you want, but don't ruin someone's home or livelihood. Stealing a camera or a pair of shoes doesn't send a message to the Man - you just look like you are bored and ignorant.
But this is a music blog and you came for hot, hot, playlist action, so let's shake out the sillies. We asked folks online what their favorite songs about rioting and general social unrest were, and the three bands that came up the most were Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine, and The Clash, the veritable big three pissed-off, politically conscious music-makers. Let's face it, most people ignore the sentiments and turn into jock jams anyway.
Civil disobedience is ingrained in pop music, just as much as shady promoters and one-hit wonders. From early blues artists singing about the law coming down on them, rockers complaining about drug busts, and hip-hoppers broadcasting ghetto injustices of, music is the best way to get your social bitch on. It also helps if it's got a beat you dance to.