The Smiths, Tom Waits: The Songs Itching To Start A Political Campaign

The Weather Girls are back in the top 40 once again, some 32 years after ‘It’s Raining Men’ first entered the charts (they splashed in at No.31 on Sunday, pop pickers). The camp anthem was a worldwide smash back in 1982, and also a post-Spice Girls No.1 for Geri Halliwell in 2001. Now Martha Wash – the surviving member of the duo – is enjoying chart success all over again. And all because of a Facebook campaign set up in protest at UKIP councillor David Silvester’s fire and brimstone open letter to David Cameron, published in a Henley-on-Thames local newspaper.

The crux of Silvester’s epistle, should you have been living under a rock to try and shelter from the endless rain, suggested the inclement downpour from the heavens which still shows no signs of abating is direct action from a God angry with us for allowing a gay marriage bill to pass through parliament. Historians might deem this a strange moment of intervention given the 2,000 odd years God’s been keeping out of our way as part of some free will embargo, but there you have it.


Silvester was suspended by UKIP party leader and Joe the Camel impersonator Nigel Farage in January, but clearly the Old Testament frothing of a bigoted antiquarian upset members of the gay community enough to want to register their protest in an entertaining and postmodern way; it certainly beats egging Silvester’s house, which happened a few days ago (thankfully Justin Bieber had an alibi this time).


The campaign started out merely as an idea on the internet, but soon G-A-Y owner Jeremy Joseph was offering to donate £1,000 to Elton John’s AIDS Foundation if the song went Top 20. And, while the track might have finished just outside the top 30 having been poised at Number 21 in the midweek chart, it raised plenty of awareness through media coverage – hopefully some hearty guffaws as well as landing the requisite bloody nose.

It’s a type of protest we’re likely to see more and more of in the coming months and years, thanks to the millions of songs that have been released over the decades, catalogued and in stasis on media libraries like iTunes, just waiting to be brought back to life. When someone decided to take on the might of Simon Cowell back in 2009 by starting a campaign to get Rage Against The Machine to the Christmas Number One and topple the hegemony of The X Factor, it felt like an anomaly, despite its eventual success. ‘Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead’ last year? Less so. Soon the charts may be flooded with classic old songs making points about thorny topical issues. Here are just a few we thought of regarding current events, should anyone be itching to start a campaign about something but are too damn lazy to come up with a track to champion their cause.

‘Paint a Vulgar Picture’ by The Smiths – in protest at the MPs portrait scandal
£250,000 spent on politicians’ portraits? How much etc? The amount dished out for politicians to preserve themselves in paint for posterity in the House of Commons – especially in times of austerity – stuck in the collective craw of much of the electorate recently, especially when they realised they were footing the bill. How about ‘Paint a Vulgar Picture’ by The Smiths, lobbed at the political classes like some well-aimed Jackson Pollock splodges? The fact the song is about the music industry wringing dry dead rock stars for all they’re worth is almost irrelevant. Who cares about the song? It’s all about the statement, dumbass! Let’s get ‘Paint a Vulgar Picture’ into the Top 40 now!


‘The Wanderer’ by Status Quo – in protest at plans to make foreign-born terror suspects stateless
Home Secretary Theresa May caused controversy recently with plans to revoke the citizenship of foreign terror suspects previously awarded UK citizen status, should they, you know, get suspected of any wrongdoing anytime soon. That’s right, these people will be ejected from the bosom of these isles and made stateless because they might have possibly been up to no good. But hang on a minute? Surely you can’t take someone’s citizenship away from them and cut them adrift to wander the corridors of diplomatic purgatory forever and a day just because you’re feeling a bit suspicious? Let’s send the three chord metal-boogie of Status Quo’s ‘The Wanderer’ back into the charts immediately in protest!

‘Empty Rooms’ by Gary Moore – in protest at the Bedroom Tax
Got a spare room? How dare you. Since 1st April last year (oh so it’s an April Fool is it?), welfare reforms brought in under Iain Duncan Smith have cut the amount of benefit people can get if they are deemed to have a spare bedroom in their council or housing association home. But hang about, that doesn’t seem very nice. Let’s propel the mulleted late guitar monster Gary Moore back into the charts with his 80s power ballad ‘Empty Rooms’ right now (this may be Gary’s only chance of ever re-entering the charts, so make it a good one).

‘Dickhead’ by Kate Nash – in protest at Justin Bieber behaving like a dickhead
Justin Bieber is rich, successful, good looking, talented and has nearly 50 million followers on Twitter. So why’s he acting like a dickhead? Even Beliebers must be wondering what the hell is going on with Justin. Put Kate Nash’s ‘Dickhead’ into the hit parade this Sunday and make Justin aware of your derision!

‘Sins Of My Father’ by Tom Waits – in protest at actor’s ancestors

A bit of a strange one this. It has been revealed that Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch – who stars in the movie 12 Years A Slave had a great, great, great, great, great grandfather who kept slaves at an 18th century sugar plantation in Barbados, and some people are calling for the popular thespian to apologise for sins of the fathers. This might be the perfect time to put ‘Sins of My Father’ by Tom Waits from the awesome ‘Real Gone’ album into the charts, in protest at Cumberbatch doing absolutely nothing to halt the segregationist behaviour of his ancestor born three centuries before he was even a twinkle in his daddy’s eye.

‘Just The Way You Are’ by Billy Joel – in protest at ‘Eastenders” modernisation
Recently, it’s been revealed Eastenders is being dragged kicking and screaming out of the 1980s, with producers looking to trendy Shoreditch as inspiration. So from now on it’ll be less Phil Mitchell having sex with Sharon and more hipsters on Bromptons drinking flat whites and Essex teenagers vomiting in your turn-ups down Brick Lane. But wait: what if we don’t want Eastenders to change? What if we’re resistant to change? Look at Coronation Street, purging the loveable old folk and implementing racier storylines with these young whippersnappers. Rubbish! Some of us want Eastenders kept exactly the way it is regardless, of plummeting ratings and recycled miserablist storylines involving Ian Beale. Let’s get ‘Just The Way You Are’ into the charts as soon as we can before they turn the Queen Vic into the Macbeth!

‘Hold Back The Rain’ by Duran Duran – in protest at the bloody weather!
So if God wants to protest about gay marriage then let’s protest back at God for the deluge we’ve been suffering this winter. Oi God, stop the bleedin’ rain will ya? Don’t you think we’ve had enough precipitation for one season? How would you like it if we came round yours and emptied our bladders for months on end all over your house? Let’s get ‘Hold Back The Rai’’ by Duran Duran to Number One in the charts to send a message to God that we’re not happy, despite the fact he’s omniscient and knows this already.

And so it’s over to you. What makes you angry and which song might you choose to let the world know all about it?