Music for a different kind of patriotism

Perhaps one of the most clichés in American politics is that Americans are not patriotic enough. However, this sentiment hides many preconceived notions about what it means to be American. There is perhaps no better example of this than the Zac Brown Band song “Chicken Fried” (2005). The chorus describes the ideals of American heartland: “A cold beer on a Friday night / A pair of jeans that fits perfect… See the love in my lady’s eyes / Feel the touch of a precious child / And a mother Know the love of.”

While this isn’t an inherently bad concept, it is not representative of America as a whole. For example, Janelle Monáe gives a different, more satirical take on this American myth in her song, “Americans” (2018). Monáe sings, “I like my lady in the kitchen / I teach my kids superstitions / I keep my two guns on my blue nightstand / A pretty young lady, she can wash my clothes / But she’ll never wash my pants Won’t wear it.” These songs offer a scathing critique of the idea of ​​the ‘true American’. Perhaps this is the solution to our issues of patriotic flag planting; We don’t need to mobilize people’s love for a limited concept of America, but rather completely change how we define ‘American.’

America is the land of victory through struggle. As we celebrate our freedoms, we must remember that the most important of these freedoms is the freedom to criticize, fight against, and hate America. What could be more patriotic than ranting against America? It reflects our right to dislike our country and our belief that it can get better one day.

As argued in an article published in the Daily earlier this month, music It is an important tool we can use to express American patriotism. The music of artists like Beyoncé and Janelle Monáe, who celebrate their struggle against the oppression Americans face, helps instill a sense of pride in a different concept of what it is to be an American.One that celebrates our ongoing struggle for freedom and acknowledges the flaws in this country that contribute to that struggle.

In Beyoncé’s 2022 album “Renaissance”, she highlights black and gay culture and its place in America. Between tracks on this album, she weaves together criticisms and celebrations of American conflict. Nowhere is this more directly demonstrated than in the song “America’s a Problem”, which begins with the lyric “America, America’s a problem” and then elaborates on this statement. Denies. While it may seem like she’s being vague, in fact, she doesn’t need to specify what the ‘problem’ is: in the context of the album’s Black and queer roots, it’s clear that systemic racism and homophobia are her primary suspects. . There’s something really powerful in that she chooses to acknowledge that America “has a problem,” without needing to go into the complexities of it. In this way, it becomes a unifying statement – ​​a danceable call to action that celebrates the American struggle.

Elsewhere on the record, he is more direct. The song “Energy” contains the lyrics “Votin’ out 45, don’t get outta line”, an apparent reference to the many voters in states like Georgia who waited for hours. lines Challenging many people to be able to vote in the 2020 presidential election obstacles Hinder their ability to make their voice heard. It is a perfect example of this concept of patriotism: it is both a critique of American politics and a celebration of the people who best embody the spirit of American patriotism.

Janelle Monáe’s “Americans” (2018) takes this criticism even further, tackling almost every version of the ‘problem’ that Beyoncé was referring to. However, it also causes a sense of patriotism within this different conception of America. to project Sermon Written by Pastor Sean McMillan, some of the last lines of this song are: “This ain’t my America / But I tell you today that the devil is a mess / ‘Cause it’s gonna be my America before it’s all over.” Mone and MacMillan’s underlying point explains why American patriotism footpath: A cold beer on a Friday night is not their America. But as this music makes clear, through our criticism and our struggle, we can work toward a more pluralistic vision of American patriotism.

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