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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘M.A.H.’ By U.S. Girls

M.A.H. stands for “Mad As Hell.” It is the centerpiece from “In A Poem Unlimited,” the latest album by Meg Remy a.k.a. U.S. Girls.

Since 2007, Remy has performed under the moniker, drawing from various corners of pop and experimental music to deconstruct ideas about feminism, politics, and social norms.

Upon a first listen, some might take this song for an disco-inspired dance-pop tune about a bad break up. “As if you couldn’t tell, I’m mad as hell,” Remy croons in the chorus over a slick beat. “I won’t forget so why should I forgive?”

But listen closer: this is a song protesting against war, and more specifically, it is a song about Barack Obama. “You took me for an 8-year ride though you were never by my side,” Remy sings. “I always wanted to believe. Now this is what I’m questioning.”

In the second verse, the narrator calls out Obama for eight years of drone war and violence. She points out how the “war rolled on and on” and criticizes the 44th U.S. President for being “first in line to use those bugs up high, the coward’s weapon of choice”—a reference to drones.

The song’s music video opens with Remy holding up a newspaper that blinks between different headlines reading “U.S. Concedes It Played a Role in Iraqi Deaths,” “Bombs Hit Baghdad,” and “War Machine.”

Throughout most of the video, Remy sings over vintage pro-war propaganda, cut together with shots of her dancing with four back up dancers (they’re all her). They all smile and simultaneously flip a middle finger in one iconic shot.

“We can never know the hands we’re in, until we feel them grip, choking off our air supply, but I don’t cry,” she sings. “Every day I look. Every day I see. That good war music still getting written for me.”

The song is not exactly autobiographical. In much of Remy’s work, she takes up the perspective of various characters. Here, that character is someone who was first hopeful about the Obama administration and grew more disappointed and disillusioned over the years.

“I don’t like politicians,” Remy said in an interview last month. “I don’t trust any of them.”

“M.A.H.” was released as a single last fall, ahead of In “A Poem Unlimited,” which came out last month on the record label 4AD.

Listen to “M.A.H.” by U.S. Girls:

Liz Pelly

Liz Pelly