the most politically important single of all time
do you know which is the most politically important single of all time?
is it beyonce's "formation"? no. geraldo vandre's "pra não dizer que não falei das flores"? também não. green day's "american idiot"? nope. nwa's "fuck tha police" or public enemy's "fight the power"? not even. hey, it wasn't the smith's "meat is murder" or patti smith's "people have the power" either.
the most politically important single of all time has just been released and it's "your capricious soul", the first single by former R.E.M. frontman MICHAEL STIPE - which you can hear after the jump.
but if you just listened to it and you're scratching your head thinking "...really?", let us explain why "your capricious soul" is the most politically important single of all time.
no, it's not the lyrics. while you can extract something political within the song's imagery, michael stipe is one of the most gifted lyricists of all time with a track-record of far superior political statements: "cuyahoga", "ignoreland", "welcome to the occupation", "drive", "it's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)"… you name it. your capricious soul is way inferior to those and other stipe compositions.
wasn't the freckled little girl video directed by SAM TAYLOR-JOHNSON either.
the thing that makes "your capricious soul" the most politically important single of all time is the way it was released:
ever since R.E.M. disbanded in 2011, after 30 years, 13 studio albums, numerous hits and immeasurable cultural impact (the band has been dubbed the most important american rock band of all-time by the specialized press), michael stipe has kept away from music. Bandmates PETER BUCK and MIKE MILLS have been in a bunch of different musical projects - Filthy Friends, The Minus 5, The Baseball Project, and even a surprising peter buck solo album - but former frontman stipe has been mostly releasing some photography books, accompanying his husband (artist thomas dozol) and his best friend (patti smith) on galleries and art shows and doing weird experiments on tumblr and instagram.
so there was always the question (with his fans and press) of if/when michael would return to music. knowing that, and having his lifelong concern with political issues, stipe kept waiting and building up his debut moment to make it mean something. and girl; did he.
first: 100% of the proceeds from the single are going to the "EXTINCTION REBELLION", an NGO with a worldwide presence that organizes non-violent protests of government inaction to the climate emergency.
that alone could (and hopefully will) make a big political change, but it's just part of the revolution michael stipe's release of "your capricious soul" did.
second: your capricious soul marks the first mainstream artist release to go against the "internet coup"* perpetrated by big tech corporations: michael stipe released the single exclusively on his website; with no streaming services for the first one-month. why is it genius? because it pre-emptied streaming services by providing the song in high-resolution (and a bunch of other cool stuff like stencil art, animated flip-book portrait, and even the .rtf file where he composed the lyrics) for anyone who donated money to extinction rebellion. any amount of money over .17 cents. so it was basically that "pay how much you want/can" model. and even after this sans-streaming period: want the song in the same compressed format streaming platforms will have? you get it for free at his website.
*If you're interested in this subject, we recommend the bruno natal profile we did a couple of months ago; it better explains the subject and has a lot of great insights on it.
and that's why your capricious soul is the most politically important single of all time. because it draws a pathway for other artists to stand up against the corporate takeover of the internet. and connect and open the eyes of consumers regarding the illusion of free will within their internet habits; the illusion of a beneficial landscape for them within the corporate internet's "walled gardens".
by the way, making "most politically important" things of all time is nothing new for michael stipe. in 1991, his former band R.E.M. arguably made the most politically important album of all time. their chart-topping, 18 million copies sold-record OUT OF TIME came with a detachable "rock the vote" postal-paid card that millions of fans filled out and sent to their senators, demanding a positive vote for the "motor voter bill", a law that came to pass due to the uproar caused by the many postal cards arriving to politicians from their constituents, and allowed voters to register through their local DMV - making it easier for people throughout the US to exercise their voting rights.
now, if you're like:
well, we'll finish off with two #
#1 - no, it's not about the music. just like it's not about thoughts and prayers. not only with political songs, but with inventions as a whole: once it's out of the author's hand and into the audience's heart… it transforms into something else. sometimes awful things - like the airplane; crafted to make everyone's lives easier, but used for war. you will see a lot of people that declare themselves big fans of star trek and intolerant towards diversity. people that have all chico buarque's albums but ask him to stop talking about politics. american patriots that hate immigrants. sadly, sometimes the consumption of protest art is used almost as an excuse not to go to bat - a way for the person to feel they've done their part by listening and sharing and so they're allowed to continue enjoying the good side of "the system". a sort of "hey, but i'm a big fan of that song, and i post it all the time, so i can elect not to fully break with insert the systemic evil the protest song is about ".
so, of course, it's nice to share a message, but, especially in these times, when EVERYBODY has a voice, it's much more important and transformative and revolutionary to actually DO something through your art and your privilege, than to speak pretty words that might get lost in translation and "inspire" awful acts. your capricious soul excels by not inviting corporate tech giants to leech off its profits and relevance and by re-directing all of its importance (cultural and financial) toward an organization that makes a practical difference in the present with actions. that is very politically important.
if "songs don't change the world, listeners do"... your capricious soul is the first song to actually change it; independently of what the listeners will do with it.
#2 - if you're a romantic that believes "music will provide the light you cannot resist" (btw, those are lyrics from "I'm gonna DJ" from R.E.M.)… here's a spotify playlist curated by ara creative ideas with the most politically important songs of all time, so you can share to fight the beast from inside its belly: