One of the biggest questions looming over the Grammys this year is which artists, and how many, will use their time at the podium to bring up the orange-haired elephant in the room. Not that far down the list is which of them could return to the same stage next year to collect their trophy for a song they wrote about America’s brand-new 45th president. Or it might be a bunch of different people altogether. In fact, just three days after Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, Billboard published an article running down the multitude of protest songs and albums our new commander in chief he has already inspired, a list so lengthy it might even make George W. Bush jealous. When Lady Gaga is singing Woody Guthrie at the Super Bowl, you know something must be up.
Besides new singles like Father John Misty’s “Pure Comedy,” CoCo Rosie & Anonhi’s “Smoke ‘Em Out” and Arcade Fire & Mavis Staples’ “I Give You Power,” a number of benefit albums are planned, including Barsuk Records’ SAD! covers EP; Don’t Stop Now, featuring Swanning, Laura Stevenson, Molar, The Menzingers and 34 more acts; and the unreleased-track compendium Battle Hymns, all for the ACLU and other worthy civil-liberties watchdogs. Willie Nelson has already weighed in with “Delete and Fast Forward,” from his upcoming album God’s Problem Child.
Some people have even started bands to get in on the Trump-bashing action: United Nations, featuring members of Thursday and Glassjaw, recently fired across the bow with “Stairway to Mar-a-Lago.” This list is likely grow exponentially — remember, Trump hasn’t even been in office three weeks yet — during the weeks and months ahead, but below are a few of these dispatches from the musical barricades to date that are already worth cheering extra loud for.
Australian artist Pogo uses Trump's own words against us to create a playful funk-inspired track that is surprisingly uplifting. “Trumpular” splices together quotes from Trump's debate speeches into a rallying anthem that actually addresses hope within the American people. “Big, fat, love for common ground” is a refrain that makes Trump’s America seem somewhat normal. Trump’s voice is stitched together with accompanying groovy dub beats to create an equally playful pop song. Pogo is Nick Bertke from Australia, who creates mashup songs using quotes from movies, TV shows and random ephemera to create comical dance tracks. “Trumpular” is at most a guilty pleasure and by far the most silver-tongued we’ve heard Trump. Love the flow. VERONICA SALINAS
YG, "Fuck Donald Trump (FDT)"
No list about anti-Pmurt songs is complete without "FDT." If no other song from YG's excellent sophomore album Still Brazy makes an impact in your life, let "FDT" be the rallying cry for an entire nation. Some kind soul became the hero we all deserved the moment they hacked into a radio station playlist and forced it to play nothing but "FDT" for a couple of hours. Yes, "This Land Is Your Land" is a political song swept under the warm embrace of Americana. "FDT" is a point-blank salvo at someone who was once a regular fixture in rap music. The guy once appeared on a skit for a Method Man album, for crying out loud. Go through artifacts of the 1980s from WrestleMania IV to VI to Bobby Brown's "On Our Own" video. We should have been saying "FDT" within earshot every single day. Instead, a piece of America bought into the biggest yuppie of all yuppies. "FDT" should've been played at the Inauguration. It should be played on a loudspeaker outside the White House every single day. Because "FDT" is the 94 percent of black women. "FDT" is the marches and protests that have occurred every Saturday since January 20. "FDT" is us. "FDT" is you. "FDT" is me. BRANDON CALDWELL
OUT OF SYSTEM TRANSFER, "I Shot President McKinley (and I'm Gonna Do It Again and Again and Again)"
Let's set one thing straight, music readers and snooping Secret Service members: the songwriters are in no way advocating for violence against The Donald. Nor is the writer of this blurb, just to be clear. That out of the way, this catchy ditty by Brooklyn's Out of System Transfer offers some historical perspective on the assassination of an American president with a higher approval rating than Trump's. McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz, an American-born anarchist who called McKinley "an enemy of the good, working people." Does that sound vaguely familiar? Although the song includes the lines "they tried to make me trust him and they tried to get me scared," and "He was a rotten bastard and I'm happy that he's dead," it was penned in 2014, when everyone was snickering at the idea of a President Trump. So it is definitely not about him, unless "NYC's gonzo anti-folk punk rock radical leftist hootenanny" could somehow foretell its worst nightmare. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
"This Is Spinal Trump," etc.
While some may argue that metal has long been a secret bastion of far right, angry white boy sentiment, it’s not exactly true for the entire genre. Slayer’s Tom Araya and Ted Nugent aside, plenty of metal musicians vehemently reject a Trump presidency. From Municipal Waste’s brutal T-shirt depicting Trump’s suicide to Brujeria’s record and supporting tour calling for the overthrow of Trump, many have plenty to say. Two songs by Brujeria detail their strong feelings about the reality star turned politician, “Viva Presidente Trump!” and “Pared de Muerte” (Wall of Death). There’s no shortage of clearly violent reactions to the new Commander in Chief. Other noteworthy metal songs that reject a Trump dystopia include a Spinal Tap mashup, an entire record — albeit a parody — from Anal Trump (yes, in the spirit of Anal Cunt) and, while it may not be “metal,” Tom Morello’s assistance on the song, “Old Man Trump” is at least another voice from the heavier side of music that calls into question the legitimacy of our current Commander In Chief. KRISTY LOYE
RICK ROSS & NICKI MINAJ
Songs about Donald Trump aren't really a new phenomenon. What's new, by contrast, is how the tone of Trump-name-dropping songs have changed. Despite the fact that the Donald has always been a royal douche-canoe, his previous dolt-like behavior was somehow appealing and inspirational to many, because, well, money. Despite being an all-around horrible human being, many were able to ignore his horrific attitude, insulting nature, and disgusting hair simply because the dude had money and had his name on a bunch of crap. This is incredibly evident in hip-hop, where tons of artists flaunt Trump's name in association with the ever-present rap theme of financial acquisition. Rick Ross seemed an apparent admirer, with more than one song toting Trump-like money: 2008's "This is the Life" stating "I'm in Trump Towers, amongst earners," and 2012's "Pirates" line "Resurrection of the real, time to get richer than Trump" as examples. Nicki Minaj was also a proud hotel guest; 2013's "I Wanna Be With You" bragging "I'm at the Trump, and you bitches at the Radisson."
Fast-forward a few years and the themes of newer hip-hop songs citing the Orange One have thankfully changed. Apparently, the rap community can agree that even all the money in the world doesn't make being a racist assmonkey acceptable. Rick Ross has literally changed his tune: 2015's "Free Enterprises" has Ross claiming he will "Assassinate Trump like I'm Zimmerman," while Nicki Minaj's 2016 hit "Black Barbies" says "Island Girl, Donald Trump want me go home." A quick Google search of election-period hip-hop will produce a laundry list of clever anti-Trump lines and a lack of acceptance for his bullshit, and it is evident that finances and all, the vast majority of the hip-hop community was not going to ignore Trump's racism quietly. Hopefully hip-hop learns from this. Either way, the Radisson is looking a lot better these days. SELENA DIERINGER
HAPPY FLOWERS, "Mom I Gave the Cat Some Acid"
Bear with me. I tried to stay in the clear waters of the shallow end; I dallied with .clipping, Run the Jewels, and the mounting numbers of other similarly clear-minded, straight-shooting artists speaking out against the undemocratic statements, inhumane policies, and unconstitutional drift of the newly minted executive administration, but a couple of things happened. First, I threw myself into the scree of the President pro tem’s notorious Twitter feed, which reads like voice-to-text ravings of an underachieving silverback ape. That in turn reminded me that the actual, physical DJT is hardly much more than a semi-sentient lump of spoiled man-meat, in thrall to the will of one Steve Bannon, the shadowy crypto-fascist who governs by chaos, outpacing his more rational opponents via a self-professed love for and use of shock-and-awe strategies on multiple fronts — gaslighting, black ops, intentional nonsense. Hugo Ball and Alfred Jarry and here, Happy Flowers, prepped the rest of us for the incontinent absurdity of the present moment; protest messages needn’t be careful letters to Dear Abby. Keep them guessing; sooner or later, in charging the bait, Bannon’s Trump administration will outrun their leash. TEX KERSCHEN
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.