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I just watch the burning of a police car in Paris and angry scenes. Amongst it all there was an orchestra of sort playing, I had the sound down…(was it on RT?). Does anyone have a source on this? There seems to be a news blackout?!?

Jamala has just won the Eurovision with a protest song about the Tatars in Crimea ‘1944’ its about ethnic cleansing and Stalin but with obvious relevance to the situation in Crimea since the Russian takeover.

It seems like the mainstream music world has been won over to agitdisco and is trying to take the reins and make the running. How is it that certain ‘political’ statements are OK whereas most are not?

A jokey cake graphic suggests that the votes are 90% ‘political’ in the sense that people vote for countries they ‘like’ or feel allied to.

“The country scored 534 points with its song 1944, about the deportation of Crimean Tatars under Josef Stalin.” BBC

Phillipe Sands QC has cowritten a book called ‘East West Street’ about the beginnings of international justice in the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi ‘war criminals’. This is when ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’ became part of international law. Sands tells the story from a very personal perspective. The part of it that caught my eye was that two people on opposite sides of the bench at Nuremberg were fascinated by the same piece of music. Herschel Lauterpacht had studied in Lviv in Ukraine. Hitler’s personal lawyer Hans Frank had given a hate speech there that led to the murder of some 100,000 individuals including friends and teachers of Lauterpacht, and the grandfather of Phillipe Sands. Franks was prosecuted at Nuremberg by Lauterpacht and Raphael Lemkin. Frank was executed on the 16th October 1946.

The extraordinary thing is that Sands discovered that both Lauterpacht and Frank were comforted during the Nuremberg trial by J.S. Bach’s ‘St Mathew Passion’.

How extraordinary is this? At times of such profound emotion anyone with a bourgeois background or widespread love of orchestral music might be likely to get spiritual comfort from St Matthews Passion ‘one of the masterpieces’ of sacred classical music. And Hans Frank was one of the only defendants, along with Albert Speer, to show any remorse.

The scale and cold bloodedness of the Holocaust has held me in awe and dread since I first discovered  in as a young child. It is now hard not to think of it as a result of class oppression; of the extremes of numbing that were possible. The sublimation of emotion into high art that is listened to or observed without expression of emotion (or even bodily movement) seems to be part of this conditioning.

This may be of interest:”Collective Listening” followed by discussion – sounds very #agitdisco

<p><a href=”″>The Pop Group Q&amp;A at Rough Trade</a> from <a href=””>Rough Trade Shops</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The Pop Group Q&A at Rough Trade

This is more than a simple playlist; it’s a podcast programme with its own artistic value. Beautifully put together. Transpontine says: “Mix based on DJ set at  Housmans Radical Booksellers benefit at  Surya a while ago with  Stefan Szczelkun Paul Jam  Stewart Home Martin Dixon.  A mix I did a little while ago of music from the 1984/85 miners strike, with ChumbawambaNocturnal Emissions , Test Dept, Style Council and more…”

Where are we going with this?  Is it marketising the revolution before it happens? Is it authentic? Is she ready to go to prison for her statements? Risk losing her millions? Or was it all agreed with her marketing department?


To me it always feels like it might burst but we just ain’t ready.

Update 26th April. Lemonade, her new album is certainly making waves. Perhaps it is the radical power of the commodity and celebrity that it can turn on its money master and demand reforms, changes of attitude – in this case changes in normative attitudes to black women in the USA at least.

Todays Hillsborough Enquiry result is more powerful and revolutionary  because it comes form the bottom up – it signifies a working class refusal to take that classist shit? It shows the working class in Liverpool can assert its power within a legal framework that was evolved to protect bourgeois ‘freedoms’ and so class oppression. Equal before the law? We’ll see about that!


From Smash Hits, 11 December, 1980


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Someone with screen name ‘Protest Songs‘ has accumulated an interesting collection of protest songs on YT. Anti-war songs have been grouped by decade. There are also groups under subject headings like; activists, big business, change and discrimination.

I notice the website of STOP the War Coalition is collecting anti-war songs and has a side bar devoted to songs. Although their list of British songs to inspire the fight against austerity is a bit dated and looks like it has been put together by a set-in-his/her ways 50 plus year old.

New Statesman last year updated their more obvious 2010 list of 20 ‘top’ political songs with a new, more interesting and nuanced top ten of political songs but it seems to have been updated into May this year. Interestingly it includes a selection by Deborah Levy who I once knew and by chance I’m currently reading her poetic first novel ‘Beautiful Mutants’ which still contains many satiric word images that are as potent now as they were when written in the late Eighties. Find out what song Deborah chose here:

And to finish with here’s a less Establishment list from ‘Song Facts’ that as you might imagine is much longer!

A good resource which led me to discover ‘Under Cover of the Night’, a rare political song by The Stones from 1983 with a video by Julien Temple.

This blog is to signpost news of agit disco related events and stories that come to my attention though daily media. It does not mean that I agree with he viewpoints offered. Obviously the BBC World Service tends to have a ‘benign’ paternalistic imperialism behind what it does and does not say.

I find the story of the ‘Halal Rappers’ interesting because it shows a flexible and adaptive approach to making culture rather than one that is hidebound by convention.

or try YouTube direct:

On another side of another coin are the Russian rappers which might be seen as a détournement of local racism by rapping pro Putin!  or

Another one of a Vietnamese rapper living in USA doing agit disco stuff:

BBC blurb “Son Nguyen A.K.A. ‘Nah’, a young Vietnamese rapper studying in the United States, has launched a scathing criticism of Vietnam’s Communist Party. ”

The world is full of contradictory tactics.  Am I serving imperialism by lazily picking up on BBseize establishment voice? Maybe… I’d appreciate hearing of more direct sources!?