Thames Valley Police today unveiled a grime song aimed at discouraging gang violence and knife crime in the area. It’s as cringe-making as you’d imagine. They aren’t the first organisation to use the medium of popular music to communicate with a young audience. Check out this selection of videos from the annals of preachy pop.
El Paso Police Department, ‘Think Twice’
Where the Thames Valley Police enlisted the help of local grime artists to help them reach out to the local youth, over in Texas, the El Paso Police Department of 1992 decided to do it themselves. “I’m not Vanilla Ice/This ain’t no 2 Live Crew/But we’re going to do a little rapping for you,” says a moustachioed officer going by the name Friday. Cue lumpen wordplay and Casio keyboard beats. It’s anti-gangsta rap. Do you know what’s properly criminal? Really, really bad rapping.
The USA’s long-running D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) campaign is responsible for this slice of dark-edged ‘80s pop helping kids to remember not to take drugs with a handy acronym: “D: I won’t do drugs/A: Won’t have an attitude/R: I will respect myself/E: I will educate me!” The best thing we can say about it is it sounds a bit like the theme from The Lost Boys.
TV viewers of a certain age have an image of Zammo Maguire’s descent from cheeky schoolboy to zombie-like junkie filed in the same part of the brain that reminds them not to talk to strangers and to stop, look and listen when crossing roads. The hard-hitting 1986 storyline on the BBC’s schoolroom children’s drama led to this not-so hard-hitting pop song, with an obligatory rap thrown in for good measure. Believe it or not, there was a whole album of this crap. Just say no, kids.
This anti-bullying anthem is available to Philadelphia schools for the purpose of educating its students. Oddly, the music has a bit of a baggy vibe. Wonder what the Andy Weatherall remix would sound like?
The White House sponsored this all-star anti-drugs song from the mid-‘80s. And when we say all-star, check out the role call: La Toya Jackson! The Hoff! Herb Alpert! Arnie! Nancy Reagan! And Whitney, who clearly wasn’t paying attention to the lyrics. The song goes to prove the rule that any supergroup will be as weak as its weakest member. I challenge you to hum the tune to this song after listening to it once. Clue: there isn’t one.