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Political Music

Legitimization and Contestation

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Edited By Tomasz Bichta and Anna Szwed-Walczak

In the 12 chapters of this book the authors argue for the universal presence of music in public space and social relations. The examples of American, British, Hungarian, Polish and Russian music serve to elucidate two functions of political music, that of legitimizing and contesting political power. Both satirical songs with their ironic commentary on specific events and people as well as protest songs undermining the system corroborate the universal character of the legitimizing and delegitimizing function of music. The book is addressed to readers interested in countercultural movements and politically engaged music, especially to students of political studies, sociology and cultural studies.

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Politique Mode? Politics and Depeche Mode: The Case of Construction Time Again (1983) and Spirit (2017)

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Krzysztof Chaczko1

Abstract: When Depeche Mode released their third studio album Construction Time Again in 1983, their engagement in socio-political issues came as a surprise for their fans and music critics alike. Depeche Mode’s political activity may have stemmed from the conservative politics of Margaret Thatcher and the social tensions noticeable in Great Britain in the second half of the twentieth century. Over three decades later, in 2017, the band took up social and political issues again with their album Spirit, articulating in even stronger terms their care for the direction in which the world is moving. This chapter offers an analysis of socio-political conditions in which the two albums were created and of political elements present on the albums to reflect on whether the political engagement of Depeche Mode is a mere fad or a serious social declaration.

Keywords: Depeche Mode, politics, social issues, Construction Time Again, Spirit

In contrast to music groups such as U2, Manic Street Preachers, Rage Against the Machine or Pearl Jam, committed to socio-political issues, the British band Depeche Mode has not been regarded as concerned with political matters. Dennis Burmeister and Sascha Lange claim that the band frequently restated that they were by no means politically involved.2 Two of their albums, however, do not follow this pattern of the perception of the group and their music, namely, the third studio album Construction Time Again, released in 1983, and the latest one, Spirit from 2017. In this chapter,...

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