5 Songs to Celebrate Overthrowing Donald Trump
America needs a drink. For the past four years, citizens like you and me have been constantly bracing ourselves for the next controversial tweet, political scandal, or total disaster brought on by the current administration. For over a year, we bit our fingernails in anticipation to elect a more qualified individual to clean up this mess. But in just a few days, it will all be over.
This Wednesday, January 20th, America will inaugurate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris into The White House. Perhaps more excitingly, we will say goodbye to the Donald Trump presidency. This calls for a major (COVID-conscious) celebration with a really fire playlist. And these are the songs to have on blast.
Runnin’ — Pharrell Williams
I begin this playlist with the lead promotional song for the 2016 blockbuster Hidden Figures. The decision to cast Pharrell Williams to make this soundtrack was likely inspired by his preppy single Freedom, released a year and a half before the film. Freedom’s fittingness to the other 10 songs on Hidden Figures: The Album (which is not to be confused with the Original Score) leads me to believe that it may even be a rejected song from early in the writing process. Runnin’ is a swingy tune about the historical struggle of being a minority in the United States. I chose it to lead the list as a reminder of the hard work it took — voting, protesting, contacting lawmakers — to achieve the progress America has made thus far.
Alright — Kendrick Lamar
This stand-out track from Lamar’s critically acclaimed 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly provides hope for a brighter future. The snappy percussion, jazzy instrumentals, and robust vocals make this song an absolute banger. (Pharrell’s fingerprints are also on this record in the form of chorus vocals and his writing and producing it.) The sociopolitically motivating lyrics quickly made it an anthem for protests all over the country upon its release. And the album it hails from is an undisputed genre-defining moment for lyrical hip hop.
Devastated — Joey Bada$$
When he’s not guest starring on one of my favorite TV series Mr. Robot alongside Rami Malek, Mr. Bada$$ is turning out feature-ridden albums with intricate flows and old school beats. Devastated is a celebratory track with chill verses and a hype chorus, expressing relief that his perseverance has paid off.
Freedom — Beyoncé feat. Kendrick Lamar
Beyoncé’s surprise visual album Lemonade took the U.S. by storm in April 2016. It tells the story of a strong Black woman who goes through the stages of grief after discovering her husband’s infidelity. The shot of Beyoncé hanging her braids out of the El Camino in her Formation video is one of my favorite artistic expressions. I first heard this explosive song Freedom in an Apple Watch commercial, a big flex from the tech giant at a time when the album was only streaming on Apple Music (and her husband Jay-Z’s unpopular streaming service Tidal). It features fiery vocals from Queen Bey and a strong verse from none other than Kendrick Lamar. In the search for pure excellence, look no further.
Americans — Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe would have been a great choice to score the Hidden Figures soundtrack if she weren’t already busy acting in it. *sarcastic eye roll* She has had a few other politically charged solos, including 2008's Mr. President and this election season’s Turntables. Americans tops off Monáe’s self-expressive latest album by acknowledging the systemic prejudice that still exists in the United States. “You see my color before my vision. Sometimes I wonder, if you were blind would it help you make a better decision?” The track ends with an inspiring speech encouraging America to continue its march towards freedom and equality.
Thanks for reading What Matt’s Listening To: Music recommendations from a regular guy with impeccable taste. Come back next week for five more great songs.