Those pesky, subversive, lefty artists are at it again. He hasn’t taken office yet, but Donald Trump has already provoked a reaction from Arcade Fire and Gorillaz (if only some real gorillas would follow suit) who have aimed their creative juices at the president-elect in new singles, ‘I Give You Power’ and ‘Hallelujah Money’.
Neither do so subtly. The chorus of ‘Hallelujah Money’ (‘We are still human / How will we know? / How will we dream? / How will we love?’) is clunky to say the least, and its extended tree metaphor (‘the best way to protect our tree is by building walls’) is easily uprooted. Win Butler meanwhile, who is usually excellent at communicating difficult subject-matter, has not fared any better with ‘I Give You Power’ – by reading its title you’ve more or less taken in the whole lyrical content.
In fact the song is just one long chorus. With more than a hint of Ray Charles’ ‘I Got A Woman’, it’s certainly a catchy one, but quickly becomes repetitive and needs developing melodically or structurally to be considered a great Arcade Fire single. Nevertheless its dirty synth bass sounds like its just crawled out of the swamp, and its beat hits as Arcade Fire bring Reflektor’s carnival rhythms to the club for a spot of techno-gospel featuring singer and civil rights activist, Mavis Staples.
‘Hallelujah Money’ also features a guest vocal with Benjamin Clementine adding his distinctive tenor to the mix. As per, Clementine makes little attempt to ensure his words fit the music, yet his deep actorly tones and annunciated delivery provide appropriately theatrical intrigue. The song’s sense of distress and dread is reflected by its disjointed beat, which compels you to dance without letting you slip into its groove and cooly nod along.
The video is worth a mention to, with montage footage including the KKK, George Orwell’s Animal Farm and cultural behemoth, Spongebob Squarepants, whose flailing arms and squeal of panic encapsulates my feelings exactly.
After the songs’ release, both groups tweeted of art’s critical role in providing unity, hope and resistance in ‘dark’ political times, as it has done on so many past occasions. Of course Trump is no stranger to being showered in disrepute, but might these songs have a real impact? Or are they just pissing in the wind?
Featured image: BGR.