Beastie Boys have allowed one of their songs to be used in a commercial, for the first time ever, Variety reports. They licensed their biggest hit 'Sabotage' for a new official ad for Joe Biden for President campaign. It is about the dire situation music venues in America are currently in due to COVID-19. Beastie Boys can be heard in the ad next to the Pixies and others.

The British government on Monday announced grants of 257 million pounds to help almost 1,400 arts and cultural organizations survive the coronavirus pandemic, Independent reports. The money goes to theaters, music venues, museums, and cultural organizations such as the London Symphony Orchestra, which received 846,000 pounds, Liverpool’s Cavern Club, where The Beatles shot to fame, which got a grant of 525,000 pounds, and The Brudenell, widely considered to be one of the UK’s greatest grassroots venues, with 220,429 pounds. The money is the first chunk to be spent from a 1.57-billion-pound Culture Recovery Fund.

BTS leader RM mentioned South Korea's shared "history of pain" with the US over the 1950-53 conflict, in which the two countries fought together, while accepting an award, but his remarks have angered Chinese social media users, as Beijing backed the North in the war. Adverts featuring BTS from companies including Samsung, sports brand Fila and car manufacturer Hyundai disappeared from a number of Chinese websites or social media platforms. "They [BTS] should not make any money from China" one user commented on Weibo, New York Times reports, adding - "if you want to make money from Chinese fans you have to consider Chinese feelings".

"The worry is that the next generation of performers will come only from certain sections of society. It felt as if the chancellor was rebranding the arts sector as some sort of luxurious, decadent hobby, and now it was time for everyone to get their hands dirty – perhaps literally, as we are very short of people to pick fruit" - Tim Burgess of the Charlatans wrote for the Guardian commenting on UK chancellor Rishi Sunak's words that artists should look for other jobs. Burgess reminds the politician that in 2018 alone, the music industry contributed more than £5bn to the UK economy, and it employed 296,000 people.

American president Donald Trump has ordered a halt to talks over a package of COVID-19 relief bills that included more than $10 billion in aid for independent music venues, agencies and music companies indefinitely shut down by the global pandemic, Billboard reports. National Independent Venue Association has been warning that without federal assistance, more than 90% of its 2,500 members would go out of business. Now, NIVA says the collapse is happening.

A small group of Donald Trump supporters played Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA' outside Walter Reed Medical Center, where the American president is being treated for Covid-19 infection. Consequence of Sound explained how completely bizarre that is: "To emphasize for what has to be the bajillionth time, 'Born in the USA' is not a pro-patriotism song. It’s a lament for a country addicted to feeding its working class populace into pointless wars, only to leave them neglected once they return. So the fact that these people were blasting this protest song outside of a military hospital, where actual members and veterans of the military are trying to rest and be cared for, crosses irony over to actual ignorant cruelty".

"They are lifers. They are great songwriters. They plant their flag wherever they show up and fully commit" - Rise Against's Tim McIlrath said about Anti-Flag, who have a new documentary 'Beyond Barricades: The Story of Anti-Flag' premiering today. It was directed by Jon Nix, it features live and behind-the-scenes footage from over the years, interviews with all four members of Anti-Flag, and interviews with Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Billy Bragg, McIlrath, Brian Baker (Bad Religion), and others. The film is as much about politics as it's about the last 30 years of punk rock as it's about Anti-Flag themselves, Brooklyn Vegan says in an announcement.

Reality weirder than ol' Weird Al
October 01, 2020

Weird Al makes a 'We're Doomed' political video, featuring Trump & Biden

Weird Al Yankovic has teamed with The Gregory Brothers and made an autotuned remix of the presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Weird Al takes over as moderator, with Trump and Biden's more memorable lines turned into hooks.

15 seconds away
September 28, 2020

Judge stopped Trump's TikTok ban

American federal judge Carl Nichols blocked President Trump's TikTok ban on Sunday, granting a temporary reprieve to the video-sharing app, NBC reports. During a telephone court hearing on Sunday, lawyers for TikTok argued that the app is a "modern day version of the town square" and that shutting it down is akin to silencing speech. D.C. judge responded by halting the ban, which was set to kick in at midnight Sunday.

A slave master, not a stage master
September 23, 2020

Slave trader association dropped - Bristol's Colston Hall renamed

Bristol venue Colston Hall is dropping its name following decades of protests and boycotts over its association with the 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston. A statue of Colston was toppled by Black Lives Matter protesters and thrown into the harbour in June. The process of renaming the hall began in 2017, following protests by civil rights campaigners, music lovers and artists, including the Bristol band Massive Attack, who refused to perform in the venue. From now on it will be known as Bristol Beacon.

"We in Northern Ireland are very proud of the fact that one of the greatest music legends of the past 50 years comes from our part of the world... So there's a real feeling of disappointment - we expected better from him" - Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann has written in Rolling Stone about Sir Van Morrison's songs that protest against the coronavirus lockdown. In the lyrics, Van Morrison claims scientists are "making up crooked facts" to justify measures that "enslave" the population. "It's all bizarre and irresponsible. I only hope no one takes him seriously. He's no guru, no teacher" - Swann wrote.

Ordinary people needed for extraordinary goals
September 21, 2020

'White Riot' documentary - punk, ska and reggae against the far right

"An excellent brief documentary about a heroic grassroots political movement whose importance reveals itself more clearly in retrospect with every year that passes" - Peter Bradshaw writes about the new documentary 'White Riot'. Director Rebecca Shah mixes archival images and interviews with key figures of the grassroots organization Rock Against Racism that bonded together punk, ska, reggae and new wave scenes to stand against the far right. The documentary closes with images of the Carnival Against Nazis, which drew in an audience of 100,000 in support of their cause.

Transgender metalhead satanist Aria DiMezzo has won the Republican nomination for Cheshire County Sheriff in Keene, New Hampshire, in an attempt to prove the political paradox at hand, Loudwire reports. “I went into it expecting that I would lose the primary, because I didn’t think that so many voters were just… completely and totally oblivious about who they are voting for” she wrote in a blog post, but they did. She decided to run "because I oppose that very system, and the sheriff has the most hands-on ability in Cheshire County to oppose that system". Her official slogan is “F*** the Police". DiMezzo is the High Priestess of the Reformed Satanic Church, an anarchist, a metalhead who plays in the band FUD, and she’s using Trivium’s 'The Heart from Your Hate' is her official campaign song.

The Poland government is arguably one of the most conservative in Europe, recorded acts of homophobia happening on a weekly basis in the country, and there were also recorded incidents of police brutality. How systemic homophobia is can be read from the fact that a third of Polish towns have declared themselves “LGBT-free zones”. Guardian brings a story about Polish DJs and musicians fighting for the rights of the minority.

In love with himself
September 15, 2020

Snoop Dogg: Trump is a racist disrespecting every color

"Me and my homeboys sittin' up here talkin' about all the people that President Trump disrespected. Women, gays, transgenders, blacks, Mexicans, Asians, and now veterans" - Snoop Dogg said in a video post about the American president, adding "hmmm. Seems like he's disrespecting every color in the world and everything that ain't what he is, which is a racist". Snoop believes Trump needs to the changed, All Hip Hop reports - "so, the next motherf##ker, you better tell us what we gon' get for your vote. You better show up and deliver, period. We just want some peace, love, equality, and tranquillity for everybody. All lives. Just basic conversation. Now carry on".

Former American president Jimmy Carter said that Willie Nelson smoked weed with his on the roof of the White House in 1978, not with an employee, as the country legend had originally claimed, the 95-year-old politician said in a new documentary, 'Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President'. The new docu explores the 39th president’s connection to the music community during his four-year term, Huff Post reports. The core of Mary Wharton’s film argues that stars like the Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills & Nash, as well as outlaw country artists like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, played a crucial role in getting Carter into the White House in 1976.

Former The Animals frontman Eric Burdon bashed Donald Trump after the American president used 'House of the Rising Sun' during a recent campaign event. “Even though nobody asked my permission, I wasn’t surprised to learn that #Trump #864511320 used #HouseoftheRisingSun for his rally the other day” Burdon wrote on Instagram, and scored - “A tale of sin and misery set in a brothel suits him so perfectly!”. In similar politics news, Rage Against the Machine's guitarist Tom Morello told Interview Magazine, ironically, that the band were responsible for Trump becoming president: "I would say that we are karmically entirely responsible, and my apologies". Morello is referring in part to the band's 'Sleep Now in the Fire' music video from 1999, which briefly includes an extra holding up a sign that says "Trump for President". "It's funny how that became an offhand joke. Offhand joke would be a good hashtag for 2020" - Morello says.

Apart from losing time...
September 05, 2020

Kanye West has spent $6 million on his presidential campaign

Kanye West has spent nearly $6 million since entering the presidential race on July 4th, with him loaning approximately $6.7 million to his campaign between July and August. He’s received eight outside donations totaling $11,500. Most of the money spent has gone to consulting firms who’ve been working to get his name on states’ ballots. He has been kicked off more states’ ballots than he’s actually gotten on - he’s gotten his name on the ballot in just 10 states. In a recent survey, Kanye received just 2% of voters aged 18-34, so it seems his candidacy won't change much for the other candidates, especially since Democratic voters don't have a favorable opinion of him.

"A political activist in the US civil rights movement - before it was even a movement" - biographer Robert Atkinson said about Babatunde Olatunji, Nigeria-born drummer who spent his life in the US playing drums, and staging anti-racism protests. BBC recollects how Olatunji, in 1952, three years before Rosa Parks helped spark the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama, staged his own protests on public buses in the south. His protest was brave and clever - he and a group of students boarded a racially segregated bus in Atlanta wearing traditional African clothes and were allowed to sit anywhere they wanted because they were not identified as African Americans, who had to sit at the back. Day after they boarded the same bus in their Western clothing and refused to sit in the back. Olatunji was, however, better known for his music - he became a pioneering drummer, releasing 17 studio albums, including his 1959 debut 'Drums of Passion', widely credited with helping to introduce the West to "world music".

Tyrese returns with his most powerful record to date, and his first song in over 5 years - 'Legendary', featuring CeeLo Green. The song depicts an “artist's response" to the unfair deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police officers. It is paired with an equally powerful visual directed by Deon Taylor, who’s seen and been through the worst of the worst coming up in Gary, Indiana. Tyrese strayed from his signature R&B ballads, and got into hip-hop/soul territory, with CeeLo Green adding his signature voice and gospel undertones.

Pick somebody your size
August 28, 2020

Trump misuses Cohen and Elton John

The 2020 Republican National Convention has closed out with opera singer Christopher Macchio belting out a version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'. Brooklyn Vegan is convinced that Trump hasn't even read the lyrics, because Cohen there sings "I've seen your flag on the marble arch / But love is not a victory march / It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah". In other disrespect-related news, Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination, and when his daughter Ivanka Trump arrived on the stage to introduce her father, she did so to the soundtrack of Elton John’s 'I’m Still Standing', causing the British singer’s name to light up social media. Billboard reports many fans weren't happy.

Iranian musician Mehdi Rajabian says he was arrested two weeks ago and is facing trial for working with female singers and dancers, BBC reports. His new album, which is not yet complete, is due to include female vocalists - who are effectively banned in Iran. Rajabian says a judge told him his latest project "encouraged prostitution". The 30-year-old has already been imprisoned twice on charges relating to his music.

We will be viktortsoious
August 22, 2020

The hymn of Belarus protests - Kino's 'Want To Change'

There is one song that keeps being heard in the crowds at the protests in Belarus - 'Khochu Peremen' ('Want to Change') by the 1980s USSR rock band Kino (Cinema). Previously, it was sung in Moscow by protestors opposing Vladimir Putin in 2011, although its author Viktor Tsoi had no intention for it to become a political anthem, or for him to be a revolutionary figure, according to the BBC. He said it was a song about inner change.

“I kept waiting for someone to do something that moved or inspired me, but I began to realize that I’d have to do it myself" - Brazilian artist Linn da Quebrada told Guardian about being black and trans in a repressive country (130 trans people were killed in Brazil in 2019, more than anywhere else in the world). Linn and her musical partner Jup do Bairro make brave music with vulnerable lyrics, tongue-in-cheek statements, and genre-bending dance rhythms. They're fighting the system which is "so narrow, we have to come in through the cracks. And as we come in, we also widen these gaps so that more and more people can start occupying them, too”.

“We are the first country in Asia to legalise same sex marriage. We’ve been supporting the Hong Kong democracy movement and the cause of Tibet" - Freddy Lim of Taiwanese metal band Chthonic says in Guardian interview. He is also a member of the Taiwan parliament, where he pushes for young people and progressive ideas: "That younger generation have been born into independence, into a democratic country that they don’t want to sacrifice. With this generation making political decisions, it can make Taiwan more progressive, to care more about oppressed people and those who suffer with tough lives”. Recently, he started a new podcast with Emily Y Wu, Metalhead Politics where he mixes the two worlds.

TikTok has 85 million American users and it is a hub for creativity of all kinds, especially for musicians, The Forty-Five reports on impact of politics on music. From the hopefuls to the viral hit makers to the bona fide superstars, TikTok has become the best tool for music promotion. If the American ban on TikTok activates the American users would be kicked off the app and US companies would no longer be able to advertise on there. It is now owned by a Chinese company, if their American operations are bought by an American company before September 15, American TikTok users will remain active.

Iranian band Arsames have fled their home country to avoid having to serve a 15-year prison sentence for playing metal music. Arsames insist they don't play satanic music, rather they sing about Persian history - "is it a crime that we love music and our country?!”. Metal is viewed as a Satanic form of music in Iran, which violates the country’s strict blasphemy laws and could result in execution, Loudwire reports.

It certainly hurts music
August 07, 2020

Would Kanye West's candidacy really hurt Joe Biden?

It is widely believed that Kanye West's American presidential candidacy serves one purpose - to take potential Joe Biden's votes, black and young ones, and make it easier for Donald Trump to win. Billboard argues it just might not happen like that. African Americans tend not to vote for candidates solely because they are Black, while West’s status with Americans age 18 to 29 is actually more unfavorable than favorable - said David Jackson, a political science professor at Bowling Green State University whose research focuses on the links between young people’s entertainment and political preferences. It’s also possible West could actually draw support away from Trump, since he’s been an outspoken supporter of the president in the past.

Don't keep on grabbing in the free world
August 05, 2020

Neil Young sues Trump for copyright infringement

Neil Young filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Donald Trump's campaign for playing his songs at campaign rallies. The complaint filed in New York federal court states that "Plaintiff in good conscience cannot allow his music to be used as a 'theme song' for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate". Young alleges that Trump's campaign lacks a license to publicly perform 'Rockin' in the Free World' and 'Devil's Sidewalk'.

Hachalu Hundessa / Diamond Platnumz / Bobi Wine

From Senegal to Kenya to Algeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a new generation of artists is giving voice to the grievances and aspirations of hundreds of millions of people - Guardian says in an article about African musicians fighting oppressive rules. Hachalu Hundessa was a popular Oromo singer and activist in Ethiopia, who was murdered last month. Tanzania’s highest-selling artist, Diamond Platnumz, had songs banned and was arrested. Rapper Falz from Lagos raps about country’s political class. Bobi Wine is a popular reggae star and opposition MP in Uganda and will release a new album next month that addresses “the real issues people are facing – the injustices, corruption, high taxation, misrule, abuse of human rights, dictatorship”.

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