What albums might Leon Trotsky have done some head-banging to if Josef Stalin hadn’t sent an assassin to shove an icepick through his skull?
Answer: the 10 Neo-Communist (and some flat-out communist) titles on our list. We count them down from the more benign Democrat-supporters to outright totalitarian radicals.
Included in this collection are alternative, rock, rap, folk, and hip-hop titles. We’ve also done our best not to be too obvious with our choices — you won’t find Greenday’s “American Idiot” on this list, for example. We also made the choice to select albums that despite being nauseating in their politics can actually be enjoyable to listen to — hence the decision to include a video with each. That’s your cookie for having to endure the next ten pages of anti-Americanism as we expose some of music’s most politicized albums.
10.“Hail to the Thief” by Radiohead
Considered by music critics and fans alike as the 20th century’s most important rock band, Radiohead took over the alternative music world in the mid ’90s with “OK Computer,” a brilliant album about the alienation we feel because of technology and the ways it makes us a little less human each day. (Certainly an accurate prediction of our Facebook-Twitterverse world of today.) They then turned themselves inside out in 2000 with the release of “Kid A” an almost completely electronic album that is considered by many to be the most important record of the past ten years. Lead singer Thom Yorke, never one to shy away from slamming George Bush and the administration’s stance on environmental issues, decided to use the band’s 2003 album title as a soundboard on the 2000 US presidential elections. Apparently “Impeach George Bush” was already taken as an album title.
Spin magazine writer Chuck Klosterman had this conversation with Yorke in 2003 following the release of “Thief”:
We’re talking about politics (kind of) and his two-year-old son Noah (sort of), and I ask him how those two subjects dovetail–in other words, how becoming a father has changed his political beliefs and how that has affected the songwriting on Hail to the Thief, the sixth studio album from earth’s most relevant rock band.
His answer starts predictably. But it ends quickly.
“Having a son has made me very concerned about the future and about how things in the world are being steered, supposedly in my name,” he says between sips of mineral water. “I wonder if our children will even have a future. But the trouble with your question–and we both know this–is that if I discuss the details of what I’m referring to in Spin magazine, I will get death threats. And I’m frankly not willing to get death threats, because I value my life and my family’s safety. And that sort of sucks, I realize, but I know what is going on out there.”
Yorke’s reluctance is not a surprise. Since April, Radiohead have stressed that Hail to the Thief is not a political record and that the album’s title is not a reference to George W. Bush’s controversial victory over Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election (in fact, Yorke claims he heard the phrase during a radio program analyzing the election of 1888). This is a bit paradoxical, because that argument seems both valid and impossible: There are no overtly political lyrics on the record, but it feels political. And Yorke is not exactly nonpartisan: At a recent antiwar rally in Gloucestershire, England, he publicly declared that “the U.S. is being run by religious maniac bigots that stole the election.”
“If the motivation for naming our album had been based solely on the U.S. election, I’d find that to be pretty shallow,” he says. “To me, it’s about forces that aren’t necessarily human, forces that are creating this climate of fear. While making this record, I became obsessed with how certain people are able to inflict incredible pain on others while believing they’re doing the right thing. They’re taking people’s souls from them before they’re even dead. My girlfriend–she’s a Dante expert–told me that was Dante’s theory about authority. I was just overcome with all this fear and darkness. And that fear is the ‘thief.’”
Because “Hail to the Thief” is not explicitly politically but more of a tonal assault on freedom we rank it at #10 on the list.
Key Tracks: The Gloaming, Drunk and Punchup at a Wedding, 2+2=5
Next: one of the grandfathers of alternative rock got some Bush Derangement Syndrome…