The 21st century has witnessed a surge of progressive music that challenges societal norms, addresses pressing issues, and pushes the boundaries of musical expression. Here are five songs that have been celebrated as among the most progressive of this era:
‘Formation’ by Beyoncé: Released in 2016, ‘Formation’ is a powerful anthem that addresses racial identity, black empowerment and feminism. Beyoncé fearlessly confronts social and political issues, celebrating black culture while highlighting the ongoing struggle for equality. The song became a symbol of empowerment and sparked important conversations about race and activism.
‘Alright’ by Kendrick Lamar: This 2015 hip-hop masterpiece by Kendrick Lamar serves as an anthem for resilience and hope in the face of oppression. Through its thought-provoking lyrics and captivating delivery, Lamar addresses police brutality, racism and the struggle for justice. The song became a rallying cry for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and garnered critical acclaim for its powerful message.
‘Same Love’ by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Mary Lambert: Released in 2012, ‘Same Love’ is an anthem that advocates for equality. Macklemore’s heartfelt lyrics, combined with Mary Lambert’s soulful vocals, explore the issues of same-sex relationships, discrimination and marriage equality. The song’s impact on the mainstream music scene helped foster a more inclusive and accepting society.
‘This Is America’ by Childish Gambino: Released in 2018, ‘This Is America’ by Donald Glover (under his stage name Childish Gambino) is a groundbreaking commentary on gun violence, racism and the state of American society. The song’s captivating music video, filled with symbolic imagery, juxtaposes joyful moments with scenes of violence, highlighting the contradictions and complexities of contemporary America.
‘Pynk’ by Janelle Monáe: This track explores intersectionality, feminism and black empowerment. With its dynamic production and thought-provoking lyrics, Janelle Monáe challenges societal norms and encourages self-acceptance and self-expression.
These progressive songs have transcended the boundaries of traditional music, sparking important conversations and catalysing social change. Through their fearless exploration of diverse themes and their impact on cultural discourse, they have solidified their place as some of the most influential and progressive songs of the 21st century.
– Riya Sohini