Prayuth Chan-ocha – Because You Are Thailand

Not too many heads of country are pop stars?

Chan-ocha is the prime minister of Thailand, and writes patriotic and nostalgic songs for and about his country.

If we join hands … the day we hope for is not far away,” sings someone on his behalf, as the leader is more like the Bernie Taupin, to Elton John…

Yet critics might think all this to be adult contemporary propaganda – imagine John Tesh with a rifle pointed at you? The man is in power as he took it via the military (a “coup d’état”) in 2014. The military, under his direction today, is not tolerant of dissent.

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Stevie Wonder – He’s Misstra Know-It-All

This song by Stevie Wonder, on his phenomenal social and musical achievement, the Innervisions album of 1973, takes on the 37th US president, Richard Nixon. Well, the lyrics detail an over-confident, know-it-all trickster. But it was widely figured to be about “Tricky Dick.”

You might today feel it applies to President Donald Trump, too, with verses like:

Makes a deal
With a smile
Knowin’ all the time that his lie’s a mile
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Must be seen
There’s no doubt
He’s the coolest one with the biggest mouth
He’s Misstra know-it-all

Also by Stevie Wonder and reviewed here:

Some other songs here about Richard Nixon:

Aimee Mann – Can’t You Tell?

Old school hipsters will want you to know that like them, you should appreciate Aimee Mann. She led 80’s new wavers ‘Til Tuesday, but has a longer, more distinguished, if low-key, solo career.

Today, with this song, Mann is singing as if she was 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

It is part of an artist’s campaign, sort of like these social media challenges of posting inspirational happenings for one month. This one, is 30 Days, 30 Songs, wanting a “Trump-Free America.”

Mann imagines “The Donald” as a sociopath who has no plan for America beyond winning. He can’t stop the damage he is wreaking, and would wreak more, if president. But that, Trump has a conscience and truly, privately wishes someone would put a stop to him getting the top political job of the land.

Who is to blame? Trump for, sure. But Mann as Trump suggests his supporters carry responsibility, too, wanting to crown Donald Trump and troll and lambaste his detractors. That’s an interesting point: Donald Trump is who he is, but what is it in the American political culture that has put this person in prominence?

One could argue, this instalment of 30 Days, 30 Songs could try to get into the minds of Trumpsters to better understand their feelings and motivations, and support for Trump. What gave rise to their stridency?

Mann doesn’t like Trump, and by extension, maybe his adherents, too? But the song even accords some humanity to the man. This is not just from it suggesting Donald wants off this runaway train, but through the tune’s fluid, effortless melody and soothing, jangly instrumentation.

It might be one of the sweetest salves of a protest song, despite Trump being so abrasive in style?

AKB48 – Kimi Wa Melody

Infectious bubble gum pop ecstasy, or borderline “ear worm” annoying?

AKB48 (pronounced A.K.B. Forty-eight) is a Japanese pop act, a super-group not just in their popularity throughout Asia, but because somehow the band has more than 100 members.

The group has found controversy for seeming to use underage sexual imagery in lyrics and videos, and at public appearances such as in their own theatre. For example, a magazine photo showed a member with her naked breasts covered by what looked like a child’s hands.

AKB48 is also seen as providing examples of strong female role models to Japanese culture, in a larger society that is seeking to make gains for gender equality. But another member shaved her head as some sort of apology, after she stayed over night with a man.

Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down

US Senator John McCain might hold the record for most times, for using songs without the permission of the artists. He used Van Halen’s Right Now. He’s also had John Mellancamp upset for using “Our Country.” Heart didn’t like McCain spinning “Barracuda.”

Other songs McCain pinched without approval: John Mellancamp’s “Pink Houses,” The Foo Fighter’s “My Hero,” Abba’s “Take A Chance on Me,” Bon Jovi’s “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” and Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty.”

These are from McCain’s 2008 run for President as a Republican. He lost to Barack Obama.

Are there more?

Tom Petty objected to the Arizona Senator using “I Won’t Back Down.”

The general lyrics about not giving up in the face of adversity do fit well for an election campaign theme song. It was also a popular song on the radio following 9/11.

Not again!:

Petty had his 1989 song copped again, but this time by a non-politician. Petty got co-writing credits on Sam Smith’s similar-sounding “Stay With Me” (2014), even though he didn’t think it was such a big deal.

Coven – One Tin Soldier

An AM radio anti-war message that highlights the ignorance of greed.

This song was originally done by a Canadian band, The Original Caste, but this 1971 version is better known, having been in a film, “Billy Jack.”

It’s a song with a story. It resonates on listening, with the Pachelbel Canon type melody. The lyrics might seem simplistic and Dr. Seuss-like when summarized in print.

There is a nation or country (the mountain people), and a warring nation or country (the valley people). The mountain people have a hidden treasure that they will share with the valley people. But the valley people want it all for themselves. So they kill off the good guys. But then… spoiler alert… the treasure is just a message about peace!

The joke’s on the you, genocidal valley boys and girls!

International conflict is rarely this simple and never this hummable!

Boris Grebenshchikov – This Train Is On Fire

Called by some the Russian Bob Dylan, “BG” is the face and sound of classic rock music in the Soviet Union. Well, to the extent it was permitted!

This Train Is On Fire is considered a “perestroika anthem.” Perestroika, meaning restructuring, was an effort within the Communist Party, to open up the political and economic system of the Soviet Union, in the 1980s. This happened.

Did a song play a leading role in ending the Cold War? Wow!