7 music videos with hilariously confusing protest scenes

February 11, 2015

Look around you — the world is a cruel, unfair and unjust hellscape, and each day we creep one step closer to our impending doom. Police brutality, patriarchy and extreme financial inequality are just a small taste from the cruel smorgasbord of burdens plaguing the world on a daily basis. On every level we’re surrounded by injustice, and our supposed leaders have only their own interests in mind. If there’s ever been a time to protest, it’s now.

Plus, protests look cool as hell. The smoke, the faceless riot police, the couples smooching as chaos unfolds — it’s badass, especially when it’s soundtracked by some gut-wrenching butt rock or some emotive pop-punk. After all, Shepard Fairey uses the cutout filter to make propaganda-lite t-shirts for frat bros now, and protests look the same whether they’re about legitimate injustices or simple Stanley Cup losses.

With that in mind, here are seven music videos that feature vague protests about something or another. Who cares — they look real good.

Yellowcard “Only One”

Before we get started, let me clarify that this song completely, unabashedly rules. Yellowcard are fronted by a dude who looks like he directs wakeboarding DVDs, and they’ve also got a dude whose only job is to play violin every few bars, but they still managed to pull off this absolutely flawless masterpiece. A song this emotive and hard-hitting was designed for cry-moshing at karaoke. It’s a perfect song. It’s accompanying video sorta looks like a Community knockoff, and it’s impossible to know what all of these protestors are upset about. Half of their hand-written signs look like they contain lorem ipsum text. Regardless, our hero and his blonde bae face off against the cruel officers the only way they know how — by blowing bubbles at them and putting daisies in their guns. It’s like Woody Guthrie for the frosted tip generation.

Good Charlotte “We Believe”

This song opens with a guitar run that sounds vaguely similar to the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Push,” which is as good a sign as any that it’s going to rule. And it does rule, as the Madden twins belt out nasally platitudes about how they believe in love. They communicate their message by weaving a powerful narrative about a woman who can’t sleep because her son died, which they blame on the “suits and ties” downtown. This powerful message is supported by a video that sees Good Charlotte performing in full guyliner, interspersed with shots of old people, babies, various ethnicities, news footage and, of course, protest scenes. It’s like a quick scroll through some random stock footage, set to Hot Topic makeout music.

Anjulie “Stand Behind the Music”

Sometimes you just need to take a step back and consider what all of this shit is about. It’s about real music. And nothing pairs well with real music like some staged protest scenes on a studio backlot. It’s a fact that Oakville, Ontario pop performer and Fefe Dobson ghostwriter Anjulie knows all too well; in the video for her single “Stand Behind the Music,” a ragtag group of political misfits (read: a diverse batch of good looking models for hire) hoist golf clubs and crudely painted “We the People” signs as they stand off against four police officers in riot gear. Yes, four. There’s also a part where Anjulie sings in front of a bunch of static-filled TV sets, crossing off another wonderful music video trope. As it turns out, however, Anjulie didn’t even really stand behind her music, because she sold the song to British X Factor sensation Cher Lloyd, whose near-identical version of the track was much more successful.

Angels & Airwaves “Surrender”

Arguably the strongest critique of the Occupy movement at large was that it was unclear exactly what they were hoping for. And if a group of young people are engaged in vague wishmaking and pseudo-political emoting, you can bet your Macbeth’s that Tom DeLonge is gonna be there. The dude who broke up Blink-182 again holds his hands behind his back as he mugs for the camera in front of a wall of Guy Fawkes posters. Then, an entire casting call’s worth of Levi’s models dance in some mud, kiss each other and face off against some baton-wielding riot cops (who, at this point, I’m rooting for) as DeLonge yelps “Oye weell nawt sir ender.” Which, in regular human English, translates to “I will not surrender.”

Bullet for My Valentine “Riot“

Vague protest rhetoric is equally wonderful when it’s used in lyrics, as evidenced by mall-metalcore mainstays Bullet For My Valentine. Their song “Riot” doesn’t feature the words “sheeple” or even “society,” but it’s still chock-full of lines about breaking down doors, running from the law, setting fires and feeling alive. In the video, frontman Matthew “Matt” Tuck (yes, his Wikipedia lists “Matt” as his nickname) walks down a sketchy street like he’s delivering a Rick’s Rant video. He’s wearing a ball-bearing necklace, fingerless leather gloves, a shredded blazer and a carefully designed anarchy t-shirt. He looks like a metrosexual Che Guevara. As the video progresses, we find out what happens when you break the law and break down the walls — you get a private Bullet For My Valentine concert with plenty of push-moshing. Viva la revolución.

Linkin Park “Shadow of the Day”

Linkin Park’s sappy U2/Coldplay rip “Shadow of the Day” doesn’t seem to be about any sort of protest in general, but its still a prominent theme in the video. From the moment Chester Bennington flips through channels with junk-bulgingly tight boxers through the times he’s walking around and moping on the streets, there’s a near constant standoff between protestors and riot police. Adding to the chaos, the sounds of the riot are mixed in with the song. It feels like you’re actually there (in a hokey Linkin Park music video, not a real protest).

Nickelback “Edge of a Revolution”

Last year, Nickelback put out their No Fixed Address LP, and led it with a general “protest bad stuff” anthem called “Edge of a Revolution.” Meaty riffs, Chad’s inimitable groan and some call-and-response vocals make it another solid offering in the ‘Back catalogue, and its video sees our good ol’ Canadian boys rocking out in a classroom, with generic protest footage playing in the background (not to mention the occasional Guy Fawkes mask for good measure). What’s most notable, however, was the timing of the single, which was released at the height of the Ferguson, Missouri protests over the unjust shooting of Michael Brown. It was also used a few months later just a few miles away as the official theme song for the WWE’s Survivor Series in St. Louis, Missouri.


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