Donald Trump is going to wish he didn’t make alternative rock great again.
Throughout its existence, the alternative rock genre has been one of the ultimate checks on authority and abuses of power. Punk rockers like The Clash and The Sex Pistols mainstreamed ideas of anarchy and anti-authoritarianism in the 1970s and 1980s. As Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie argue in their book The Declaration of Independents, Vaclav Havel, the leader of the Velvet Revolution against Czech communism in 1989, was inspired by the music of the Velvet Underground. During the administration of President George W. Bush, Green Day was one of the leading anti-war voices.
Sadly, over the last eight years, alternative rock lost some of its anti-authority edge while Barack Obama was in office. The band Muse is one of the few exceptions, releasing three albums during the Obama years, two of which —The Resistance in 2009 and Drones in 2015 — are remarkably anti-authority. Drones was a particularly strong album in its blasting of the military-industrial complex, but that’s commonplace from Muse regardless of who the world’s leaders are.
But Donald Trump’s candidacy prompted alternative rockers, such as the Scottish band Franz Ferdinand, to release songs and music videos that blatantly call out Donald Trump and his penchant for illiberal authoritarianism.
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