Looking for 2022’s best protest music? Here are 10 albums

November 28, 2022
Protest music albums from November 2022

Do you think there's no good protest music these days? So did I, until I started looking for it. The truth is, it's always been out there, but it's sometimes just a bit difficult to find. Every month, I search it out, listen to it all, then round up the best of it that relates to that month's political news. Here's the round-up for November 2022.


On November 3, climate activist Greta Thunberg was interviewed on the eve of the COP27 climate summit. "The only way for me to consider COP27 a success or a step forward would be if more people realised what a scam it actually is," she said. "Wake up and treat the climate emergency as an emergency." One band who get it are British political punk pioneers Newtown Neurotics, whose new album released just days earlier opens with the song "Climate Emergency". It even quotes Thunberg's words for leaders: "How dare you." On November 7, five Australian teenagers were arrested for protesting against coal. But on November 15, Australia's climate change minister told COP27: “Australia is back as a constructive, positive and willing climate collaborator.” He then declined to sign a statement to “end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022”. LISTEN>>>


On November 7, Colombian President Gustavo Petro told the COP27 conference capitalism would not solve the climate crisis. “The market and the accumulation of capital produced it, and they will never be its cure,” he said. Four days later, US country musician Jeb Loy Nichols released his new album, containing the song: "I Hate The Capitalist System". On November 21, Australian MP Andrew Wilkie revealed his country's longstanding claim its coal was "cleaner" than that of other countries was a scam. That came just days after Aussie band Stretch & The Truth released their new EP containing the sarcastic anthem "There's Nothin' Wrong With Coal". On November 18, legendary country rocker Neil Young released his new environmentally-themed album, World Record. It was not available on Spotify, which Young had left in protest. But it was available via Apple, just as its workers rioted and went on strike. LISTEN>>>  


On November 8, there was no Republican “sweep” in the US midterm elections, despite expectations, partly due to revulsion at their abortion policies. But while many media outlets hailed the results, US artist Jesse Jett offered a more critical perspective on his new album, released the same day. On "LIVE From The Hall Of The Undead", he sneers: "I’ll be silent as the earth is, with Democracy’s remains. While you’re marching on the surface for the hope of Roe v Wade. Trying to push your leaders back to where they’d always stayed. Wondering what made them change their minds November eighth. Deciding that it’s just a couple DINOs playing fake. So, NEXT time, we can vote THEM out, and things will be OK! Try kneeling with an open mouth, the boots might go away!" By making the album spoken word, Jett has kept it ultra-topical, so what it lacks in catchy choruses it gains in contemporary cachet. LISTEN>>> 


As Republicans blamed Donald Trump for their midterm woes, French jazz musician Ibrahim Maalouf released his new album, which tears strips off the former US president. Among the album's many guests is Hollywood actor Sharon Stone. Her biting monologue leaves no one in doubt about who she's addressing, despite not mentioning Trump by name. "Our country is not a toy," she hisses. "It's time to walk away boy. Put your head down and walk. Walk on, motherfucker, walk." As Twitter's new owner, Elon Musk, sacked workers without notice and reversed Trump's ban from the social media platform, 1980s hitmakers Simple Minds targeted him on their new album. Talking about its song "Who Killed Truth?", they said: "People no longer care about lying because they know that you know they're lying." Meanwhile, Trump seemed reluctant to rejoin Twitter from his tiny social media platform, Truth Social. LISTEN>>>   


As people flocked to Twitter to follow FIFA's soccer World Cup, critics pointed out that up to 6500 people had died building its stadiums. FIFA's president replied that western nations were in no position to give morality lessons to the host nation, Qatar, given their past and current behaviour. Well aware of that behaviour would be the Australian team's Jackson Irvine, a guitarist who captains anti-fascist German club FC St Pauli, which he says is a "perfect fit" for him; and Awer Mabil, who came to Australia as a refugee and runs “Barefoot to Boots” to ensure better welfare for asylum seekers. The Cup controversy played out as Gordon Koang, a blind musician who fled Sudan's civil war to seek asylum in Australia, released his new album on November 11. It includes the track "Australia" and was released by not-for profit Melbourne label Music In Exile, which champions diversity. LISTEN>>>


Also standing up for refugees is Welsh protest singer Cosmo, who released his new album on November 12, just days after his country adopted a protest song as their World Cup anthem. On "Immigration Raid" he sings: "Face on the floor, slap on the jaw, there’s no hiding in the shade. Ask no questions, tell no lies, it’s an immigration raid." And on "No Welcome In Dover", he pledges: "From the cops that all protect them, to the state that profiteers, we’ll drive fascists out this land while refugees are welcome here." The album began when he performed a protest song outside the COP26 climate summit and the video went viral. He followed that up with more videos, whose songs are compiled on this record. The musician has also put his money where his mouth is, donating the proceeds to homeless, climate and refugee charities. Well-written, clear-voiced and catchy, this is the protest album of the year for me. LISTEN>>>


Also supporting the homeless are Black, queer, feminist punks Big Joanie, with their new album, Back Home, released on November 4. Discussing the record, they said: "Living in London, you kind of feel like you’re going to have the rug pulled out from under you at any time because housing is so insecure and unstable." On the same day, US protest singer David Rovics held a launch party for his new EP with rapper Mic Crenshaw, which takes aim at landlords on the song "Just A Renter". A week later, Australian punks Delivery delivered their new album, whose songs "No Homes" and "No Balconies" bemoan affordable housing drying up as prices skyrocket. A fortnight after that, their fellow Aussie punks The Smith Street Band slammed the government's house price-inflating policies on their new album, with the song "A Conversation With Your Old School Friends About Negative Gearing". LISTEN>>>


On November 19, Anderson Lee Aldrich shot five people dead and injured 18 others at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs. A drag queen performing at the club said Aldrich was stopped only when a trans woman stomped her heels on the attacker. Aldrich's homophobic, Republican, porn actor father, said his first reaction on hearing the news was: "Shit, is he gay?" The attack came as trans musician Honey Dijon, who is described by pop queen Madonna as "my favourite DJ ever", released her new album, which is sure to fill gay dancefloors. Those wanting a more raw take on the scene might turn instead to the innovative new album by supremely talented Indian trans artist Finsta, which addresses violence within the community. "The album isn’t really made for people who aren’t queer," she said. "A heterosexual or cis person listening to the album should feel like a voyeur." LISTEN>>>


After a bombing in Instanbul on November 13, Turkey instantly blamed the Kurdistan Workers Party and Syrian Democratic Forces. Both strongly denied any involvement. But on November 19, Turkey carried out cross-border attacks on Kurdish towns across northern Syria and Iraq, killing at least 31 people by November 21. On the same day as the Istanbul bombing, 3CR Community Radio in Melbourne interviewed Farhad Bandesh, a Kurdish refugee who has fled persecution in Iran. Nine days earlier, radical New Orleans "synth punks" Special Interest released their new album, which contains the pertinent track "Kurdish Radio". And as protests continued to rage in Iran over the killing of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, Tehran-based metal band Hyper Planet released a single for her. The record is dedicated to "all the Iranian women and girls on the front line of the revolution of the Iranian people". LISTEN>>>


Hitting back at the likes of Turkey's military violence is the latest album from New York indie rocker activists The Resistance Company. On "Drop the M.I.C." they tackle their own country's policies with the words: "Big oil putting blood in the soil. Investing in your enemy's fuel aggression. Big oil putting blood in the soil. A budget for their criminal minds... Resist the war. Resist the war. Where are we now? Drop the military-industrial complex." The album came after the US Department of Defence, "the largest institutional contributor to global warming on planet Earth" and "whose carbon footprint exceeds that of nearly 140 countries" claimed it was going green, sparking accusations of "military-grade greenwash". On November 25, fresh from skewering such greenwash at the COP27 climate summit, Greta Thunberg sued the government of her country, Sweden, for inaction on climate change. LISTEN>>>

This column is taking a break and will return at the end of January.

Video: The Privilege Song (SHUT UP!) - Cosmo.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mat Ward has been writing for Green Left since 2009. He also wrote the book Real Talk: Aboriginal Rappers Talk About Their Music And Country and makes political music. This year, Mat Ward released his new album based on protest chants, Why I Protest. Stream or download it free for a limited time.

Stream our new "Best protest songs of 2022" playlist on Spotify. This replaces the previous "Political albums" playlist, that was getting too big at more than 700 albums.

Read about more political albums.

Stream Green Left TV's political music playlist.

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