Ed Vulliamy has written today in The Observer in praise of Taylor Swift for expressing explicit political views in favour of the Democrats, of LGBTQ rights, and against what she describes as ‘the systemic racism we still see in this country’. These might seem unexceptionable views to express, but Vulliamy’s points are that, firstly, she has a lot to lose with her middle America appeal, and, in particular, that such an explicit political stance from a pop star is pretty rare these days, compared to the late sixties/early seventies.
He has a go at a number of stars for their political silence. I don’t agree with that – I have never felt that musicians should be obliged to speak up politically, any more than they should be beaten up when they do so. But he has a point, doesn’t he, about the relative political tameness of major pop stars these days? Or are there in fact plenty of current examples out there? My sense is that there is plenty of political songwriting going on, but that its a different kind of politics – of gender, identity and behaviour rather than geo-political protest. Recent examples welcome.