Authority is usually referred to as a synonym for power. There have been many powerful songs over the years that were based on authority. Authority often goes hand in hand with people’s beliefs, which can be changed when authority is ineffective or even looked at in a negative tone.
Authority and the power that comes with it have been around for a long time. Many songs over the year have been written about authority and/or power, even some songs about running from the law. These songs about authority have served to be themes for protests, riots, sporting events, and more.
Top Songs About Authority
“Killing in the Name” – Rage Against the Machine
This song is one of the most famous songs that Rage Against the Machine performed. It was released on the group’s self-titled debut album in 1992. The song’s theme is based on politics and anti-authority. In this song, they criticize authority. The song is said to have been inspired by the Rodney King case, who after a high-speed chase was beaten by the police, and also the 1992 Los Angeles riots that ensued after the officers were acquitted.
“I Fought the Law” – The Clash
This song was written by Sonny Curtis in 1958. Many people have covered this song over the past six decades. The song is based on a guy who goes to jail after a robbery spree. It is a reminder of how powerful the state is in this day and time. Many societies in the pre-modern era did not have prisons at all. Things sure have changed over the years.
“Soul Power” – James Brown
This song was released as a three-part single in 1971. “Soul Power” has been said to be the most impressive song ever penned, lyrically. James Brown truly had the ability to connect with so many people and so many causes. Although the song isn’t technically about power, it shows the power music can have over others.
“Fight the Power” – Public Enemy
Released in the summer of 1989, this song is Public Enemy’s best-known song. The song has allusions to African-American culture, including civil rights exhortations, black church services, and the music of James Brown.
It is one of the greatest songs of all time, making a huge cultural impact. It epitomizes the emotion of the Black struggle, both then and now. Although this song was a testament to the time that it was written, in the 1980s, it still is relevant to listeners today.
“Fortunate Son” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
This song was written and associated with the Vietnam War. It was an anti-war anthem and an expressive symbol of the opposition to the US being involved in the Vietnam War. Its focus was on the unfairness of social classes. The “son” that is referred to in the song is not a child of the elite, but they aren’t exempt from the choices made by the elite. It is very political in nature, but cannot be pigeon-holed into just one area of politics.
“The Times, They Are A-Changin'” – Bob Dylan
This song was written to give voice to social movements that were going on during the 1960s. It is often used as a protest song, even today. Dylan referred to this song as an anthem of the time. The lyrics contribute to the message of the song’s lasting message about change. It remains that, decade after decade.
“People Have the Power” – Patti Smith
This song was written during the punk movement. Anti-establishment and anti authority themes in this song were very much relevant during that time. Although the song was released in 1988, a time when Patti Smith was different than she was during the punk movement, she was still a pioneer of that time. The title alone shows the political thinking of that time.
“Another Brick in the Wall, Part Two” – Pink Floyd
Education is an important part of life for people. It comes up in a lot of discussions on authority. This song was written in protest of the rigid and abusive practices found in schools. This was based on Pink Floyd’s bassist Roger Waters and his personal experience in school.
“We Are the Champions” – Queen
This iconic song from Queen was written in the 1970s. It is one of rock’s most recognizable themes. Today it is played at many sporting events as a very positive and uplifting song. The song was written for anyone, as “we” refers to anyone and gives them inspiration.
“Something Inside So Strong” – Labi Siffre
This song was written after Siffre saw a documentary about Apartheid in South Africa, which had footage of white soldiers shooting at black civilians. It also is based on his experience as a gay individual. Written decades ago in the 1980s, it is still relevant in modern times.
Over the years, many songs have had a theme related to authority and power. From wars to social movements, audiences around the world came together to listen to a song that resonated in their hearts and also supported a cause they were passionate about.
Power is the ability to implement the decisions that those in authority have the power to make. Pushback from the public has and always will be. These songs serve as an anthem to those who refuse to allow the authority to have the last say.