Are Protest Songs Politically Effective?

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In a dictionary the word ‘protest’ is explained as “an expression or declaration of objection, disapproval, or dissent, often in opposition to something a person is powerless to prevent or avoid” (dictionary.com, n.d.). As definitions have to be written in a formal style and to make sure they are often is used mitigation. In this case words (like ‘expression of disapproval’) also seem to imply that protest is a harmless action. In the reality though if talking about protest the most common associations would be about mass demonstrations, pickets, strikes or even blood and violence and no wonder as in most of the cases it really involves all of those things. As an example it is worth to mention recent riots taking place in London and several other cities. Insurgency caused a lot of damage to buildings, cars, shops and also took several people lives. Although this time it was not really clear what rioters were protesting against usually protests are with an explicit message.

Not all the protest forms have to include violence though. One of the most peaceful and probably also most unifying protests is through music. The aim of this essay is to critically examine political effectiveness of protest songs by analyzing most popular political song, censorship and events from resources in English, Latvian and Russian languages.

We Shall Overcome

If talking about protest songs it is impossible to miss out probably the most popular protest song ever written - “We Shall Overcome”. A song which roots goes back to the 1900’s but is still popular. At the beginning it was a gospel song but later maybe the song did not start a movement but it gave people hope by just singing it, it was effective more to the nation itself by giving strengt...

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Phull, H., 2008. Story behind the Protest Song. United States: Greenwood press.

Pratt, R., 1990. Rhythm and resistance: the political uses of American popular music. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press

protest.Dictionary.com. Dictionary.comUnabridged.[online]Available:http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/protest (accessed: August 17, 2011).

Pushkin,Y.,2009.Guardian.[online].Available:http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2009/oct/06/russian-rock-bands-censored [accessed: 15/10/2011]

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Seleda,2008.CNET.[online].Available:http://www.lookatme.ru/flow/posts/music-radar/14173-muzyika-na-kostyah[accessed:18/10/2011] trans. M.Prokopenko

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