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2021 so far: politics brings tragedy and a music boom

2021 began with a political tragedy and a political music boom. Let’s hope the rest of year is free of the former and full of the later.

Whew! The first week of 2021 is finally over.

Actually, 2021 has finally arrived but in some ways, you would not know it.  The invasion of the US Capitol this week –  a historic tragedy – told us that not much has changed politically. America’s government and politics are still a mess and may stay that way for a long time. As a nation we seem to be separated sharply and permanently into country and hip hop, and never the two shall meet.

In music, things began much better.  As 2020 came to close, WAP blew everyone away with over 500 million streams in a few weeks and ended the male supremacy in rap. Male supremacy is fast eroding in other areas, given the number of women wielding axes and winning awards – including Grammy’s in categories like Rock. I think that is a good thing.  More great musicians is always a good thing, no matter what their sex is.

There was a little hiccup in the music industry at the very beginning of 2021, the rescheduling of the Grammys to  March 14 because of Covid. Which happens to be the same night the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) had rescheduled its Awards to back in July.  Two nationally televised Hollywood awards show colliding on the same night, looking for much of the same TV audience was completely avoidable, but there it is.  They will figure it out. And there will be twice as many parties to go to that week.

A different kind of collision took place the first week of 2021, not in Hollywood but in Georgia, and it really brought musicians out: the runoff for 2 Senate seats and control of the US Senate. At times the campaigns seemed to be driven by music.  Stacy Abrams’ get-out-the-vote organization, Fair Fight, produced  music events both large and small, enticing the likes of Amanda Palmer, Ani DiFranco, Annie Hart  Buzzy Tunes, Death Valley Girls, Rufus Wainwright,  Tom Morello, William Tyler and many more to sing at virtual fundraisers and drive-in concerts.   Country stars like Travis Tritt and the Lee Greenwood Band toured with Vice President Pence, surely a first for both of them.

Bands put out new music just for the election.  Death Cab for Cutie released a covers EP, The Georgia EP, and Merge Records released a compilation album of its artists, Going to Georgia,  with covers of The B-52s and Superchunk among others, and a track of William Tyler playing The Glands. Grammy winner Patti Austin released an original song, Georgia, playing for laughs as well as votes. Plus, a virtual concert by the entire cast of Hamilton.

 And of course, Atlanta being the nation’s hip-hop capital and home to So So Def, LaFace and Criminal Records among others, saw election involvement of artists from Jeezy to Lil John to Offset, raising money and even entertaining people standing in line to vote.

Whatever you thought of the election, if you followed it you know it rocked.

Music has always been part of politics, as evidenced by the number of bands that have obtained cease and desist orders against candidates they did not like using their songs  and the continuing use of same(I never understood the GOP love of “YMCA” since it is a gay anthem).  So, although 2021 began with a political tragedy it also began with a political music boom.  Let’s hope the rest of year is free of the former and full of the later. Patrick O’Heffernan, Host, Music Sin Fronteras Radio



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About Patrick O'Heffernan, Music Sin Fronteras (471 Articles)
Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist based in Mexico, with a global following. He focuses on music in English and Spanish that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America, especially Mexico like cumbia, banda, son jarocho, and mariachi. He is also edits a local news website and is a subeditor of a local Spanish language newspaper. Check out his weekly column Music Sin Frontera on Sunday nights.

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