By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
The realistic answer to the above question is âprobably not.â Still, we have to give some credit to the organizers of Agit8, an initiative from the anti-poverty foundation One.org, whose board includes Bono, Sheryl Sandberg, and Condoleeza Rice, for a unique, well-executed idea: a Spotify playlist of protest songs that you can filter by topic.
Fancy an anti-Apartheid jam? The Specialsâ âFree Nelson Mandelaâ should suffice. Is war not your thing? Queue up cover versions of CCRâs âFortunate Sonâ or Arcade Fireâs âIntervention.â Then, itâs civil rights time, kicked off by Kid Rockâs treatment of âFor What Itâs Worthâ by Buffalo Springfield.
Agit8â²s goal with its Protest Songs campaign was to âraise awareness to end extreme poverty before the 39th Annual G8 Summit.â The summit took place on June 18 and 19, and we havenât read about extreme poverty having ended, awareness having been raised or not. Itâs also a bit of a leap to assume that awareness alone can end extreme poverty, but insofar as awareness-raising goes, a nice, filtered playlist appears to be a fine way to go about it.
The songs play in Spotify, or you can watch the video via YouTube, while reading the lyrics to the song, reading about the original version, looking at photos people have uploaded, and creating customized images based on lyrics from the song, suitable for sharing on social networks to, you know, raise awareness. You also get celebrity protest playlists from Angelique Kidjo, Tom Morello, and Pharell Williams. Thereâs a wealth of information there, and itâs all nicely laid out and easy to get to, courtesy of F#âs design (the company is âthe leader in music-powered digital ad experiences.â
Other than protest songs, the theme of the playlist appears to be connecting modern artists with protest singers of the past. Itâs unclear whether music still has the power it once did as a protest medium, but if it does, the fact that itâs delivered by a contextualized Spotify/YouTube web experience with viral lyric sharing, rather than, say, a music festival on a farm in upstate New York, tells us everything we need to know about how the times are a-changinâ.