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Protest Songs Of The Week: ‘Mercedes Marxist’ And ‘I Dream Guillotine’ By IDLES

This post originally appeared at Ongoing History Of Protest Songs.

One of the best protest albums of 2018 was “Joy As An Act Of Resistance” by the UK punk band IDLES.

The album’s socially conscious tunes tackled the regressive attitudes and xenophobia that contributed to Brexit and the culture of “Make America Great Again.” Multiple tunes also addressed toxic masculinity.

IDLES recently released a seven-inch single featuring two unreleased songs from the album’s session, “Mercedes Marxist,” and the B-side, “I Dream Guillotine.” Even though the band may have felt that they did not fit the mood of their last album, both tracks are hard-hitting, insightful, and well worth a listen.

The band made a video for “Mercedes Marxist.” The visuals support the song’s lyrical message, which relates to the frustration of being a cog in the life-sucking machine of capitalism.

An office worker is shown banging his head against different things. Regardless of where he goes, he can’t escape his disillusionment. It is a fitting visual representation of the lyric: “Forgive my crippled head. Our revolution’s dead.”

The video features a fleeting moment of catharsis where it appears escape is possible, but the story ends unresolved.

The powerful imagery is a fitting depiction of the monotonous cycle in which many find themselves. The lack of resolution creates a choice for viewers. Does one continue to be part of the machine or do they break free from the shackles and try to make positive changes?

“I Dream Guillotine” refers to the economic decline of working class Britain. It references how the wealthy elite exploit those they feel are beneath them (“Jaded city broken, by a jaded wealthy jettison”).

The guillotine is a reference to the French Revolution and how French citizens revolted against tyranny. Many of the factors, which led to the revolt, still exist sadly.

IDLES is proof that punk rock is still a vital force in providing provocative social commentary.

“Mercedes Marxist” – IDLES

“I Dream Guillotine” – IDLES

Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. Photo via Prison Insight on Flickr.
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CJ Baker

CJ Baker

CJ Baker is a lifelong music fan and published writer. He recently started a website chronicling the historical developments of protest music: ongoinghistoryofprotestsongs.com, and can be found on Twitter @tunesofprotest