Sometimes a TV show, ad campaign or song comes out to raise awareness of something that affects everyone in the world. Whilst this is an admirable effort, the fact that awareness over certain issues has to be raised or even campaigned for is something that raises an even bigger issue about the world of today: if the world was a better place, these songs wouldn’t need to exist.
Here are five of those songs that go some distance in proving that we need to change the way in which we treat each other for a bigger change to occur.
1. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Same Love feat. Mary Lambert
The narrative of this song celebrates the fact that same-sex marriage is now legal in America, but echoes the struggles of religion, race, gender and sex discrimination that has been around for decades and continues to this day.
The Independent stated that in 2014/15 there were 5,597 hate crimes against gay people and lesbians. These are only the crimes that have been reported, so the figure could be a lot higher. This is a 22% rise on crimes reported from the previous 12 months. Just as you think society is moving forward by legalising marriage between two people (it is that simple, gender and sex shouldn’t be a factor), you find out some bigoted assholes are ruining it.
Why does Mary Lambert have to pen the words:
“And I can’t change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to”?
She shouldn’t have to change. The protagonist in the video shouldn’t have to “come to terms” with the fact that he loves other men. Celebrities shouldn’t have to set up press conferences to tell the world that they are gay.
At what point did someone’s sexual orientation directly affect anyone else’s life, anyway?
2. Eminem – Like Toy Soldiers
Toy Soldiers, from Eminem’s fifth studio album Encore, is known for its obvious highlighting of the violence and crime within rapper and gang communities. Eminem had written the song to call a truce between 50 Cent, Ja Rule and his music label, and collaborators in Murder Inc. after exchanges between the artists were getting increasingly violent.
Eminem states in the song:
“The Ja Shit / I tried to squash it / It was too late to stop it / There’s a certain line you just don’t cross and he crossed it / I heard him say Hailie’s name in his song and I just lost it”
Violence, crime and rap/hip-hop have all become synonymous with one another – for example, the deaths of Tupac and Biggie Smalls are thought to have been gang-related. The title of the song itself shows just how childish and immature this violence is; Toy Soldiers shouldn’t have to exist.
3. Lady Gaga – ‘Til It Happens To You
‘Til It Happens To You highlights rape and sexual abuse across schools in America, and written for the film The Hunting Ground. The video shows three college students being raped and then dealing with the aftermath.
1 in 3 female students will experience sexual assault during their time in higher education, and sexual assault isn’t limited to just women. Non-consensual sex shouldn’t even exist; we should not have to see sexual assault and rape prevention posters in schools, colleges and hospitals.
Lady Gaga sings:
“Till it happens to you, you don’t know, how it feels.”
Let’s put this into perspective: according to Rape Crisis, in the UK and Wales 85,000 adult women and 12,000 adult men are sexually assaulted or raped every year. That is 11 adults every hour for 365 days of the year. 97,000 people in the UK and Wales can identify with this lyric, and it is gut-wrenching.
I feel like I am bashing my head up against the wall because it is so simple. Lady Gaga should not have to write a song to make sexual assault and rape victims feel like they are not on their own, simply because we should have enough respect, love and care for other human beings to not ever put them through such an atrocious trauma.
4. Band Aid 1984 – Do They Know It’s Christmas
When Bob Geldof and Midge Ure wrote this song in order to raise money for the famine in Ethiopia 32 years ago, it should have been a one off.
Seeing adverts of starving children on TV is something that we’ve all become desensitised to, and only every so often you’ll feel helpless and/or guilty for being born in a country where there is access to clean water. I understand that Christmas is a time for giving and appreciating what you have around you, but this song pops up for 2 months of a year, and we click the 79p download button so we can feel a little bit better about the position we’re in.
The chorus of voices plead:
“Feed the world, let them know it’s Christmas time”
What has Christmas got to do with world hunger anyway? This song is a literal embodiment of first world guilt. I know no-one asked to exist and you have no control over the geographical location you’re in when you are born, but when we’re belting out this refrain after a two week period of overindulging, it unfortunately, does very little to change or remedy the real problems out there.
We shouldn’t be living in a world where there is an obesity crisis in one country, and people are dying from dehydration and starvation in another.
5. Martina McBride – Concrete Angel
The song Concrete Angel, written by Rob Crosby and Stephanie Bentley, centres on the theme of child abuse.
The music video is particularly harrowing, as it tells the tale of seven-year-old Angela who is abused and killed by her mother. Before her murder, it suggests that she is bullied by her peers, and teachers ignore the bruises and signs of abuse. She is then visited by an angel of a young boy who had also lost his life at the hands of violence.
“But her dreams give her wings, and she flies to a place where she’s loved.”
This lyric is heartbreaking. When a child has to dream about being loved, which is something they should receive from their parents unconditionally, there is something severely wrong with this world. The NSPCC has stated that there are over 50,000 children who need protection from abuse across the UK. Charities such as the NSPCC and Child Line do an incredible job, but they shouldn’t have to exist because innocent children should not be being abused.
I understand that I am being entirely optimistic on the topic of how the world should be, but when all of these issues are, in reality, in our complete control, it makes you question how we’ve even got this far. Some things need to change, but change won’t happen unless we all do something to implement it.