Lyrics, Photo by Calum MacAulay

Musicians pushing the boundaries with social commentary in their lyrics

3 mins read

Can you picture a world where there was no music? How desolate and joyless such a world would feel. Music is no longer just a source of entertainment, the right beats to move your hips with. Music provides solace to those who feel like their world is shattering around them. It helps people overcome their trauma and face the day with renewed confidence. 

Music permeates all parts of our lives and going even a day without listening to some tunes would be unimaginable. Since the last century, the sheer amount of music being released each day has grown manifold, and you have immediate access to songs from anywhere in the world. The internet has helped erase musical boundaries, and today someone in Japan might be going about their chores listening to the latest Spanish hits.

Love and breakups are two of the most common themes found in millions of songs around the world. The lyrics of these songs are easy to digest, and no matter your age, you will somehow feel empathy towards the singer. But musicians have also used their music as a platform to talk about more severe issues plaguing the world. These songs might not always receive the attention and fame they deserve, but occasionally a few pieces break through this barrier and get enjoyed by millions worldwide.

Photo by Joël Vogt

You need to calm down

Taylor Swift’s song titled You Need to Calm Down was an instant hit in 2019, and not just because of its groovy beats. The song does not try to hide its meaning between the lines, and Swift is very open about the message she wants to convey. The song came out as an anthem against homophobia and the hate against the queer community and featured several iconic figures from various domains. Alongside speaking up against cancel culture and internet trolls, she also talked about how successful women are made to fight against each other.

The song was one of the top five in several countries and was second on the Billboard Hot 100, and was played at Mucho Vegas Casino in different slot games for a long time.

Born this way

Lady Gaga released Born this way in 2011, and it sent ripples around the world with its pro LGBTQ+ message. Even though the song came out ten years ago, it continues to be relevant and popular to this day. Lady Gaga referred to this song as her freedom song that empowered women and the gay community.

Born this way was number one in more than 25 countries and also on the Billboard Hot 100. Even to this day, this song continues to be one of the best selling singles.

Long way to go

Gwen Stefani’s 2004 song titled Long Way to Go discusses the society’s attitude towards interracial relationships and the need for tolerance and acceptance. Her lyrics describe a man she’d met, whose skin wasn’t the same colour as hers. She goes on to talk about how everything was fine until she went out with him, but afterwards, she started receiving dirty looks from all around.

Racial prejudice is an important topic that many artists, including singers, have tried to discuss in their songs. It’s been more than ten years since Long Way to Go came out, but the need for more voices on this subject has not reduced.

Photo by Rachel Coyne min

99 Red Balloons

Anti-war songs are not as common today as they were in the last century. This German song by Nena released in 1983 and had an anti-war theme. The song describes pilots who after investigating a cluster of red balloons put on a firing show, leading to a full-blown war.
The original German title was 99 Luftballons, but an English version was also released, called 99 Red Balloons.

The song was extremely popular in Australia, America, Japan and among European countries. It came second on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.


Self-love and acceptance have been a recurring theme in the pop music of the 21st century. From Pink’s Perfect to Katy Perry’s Roar, we have had many female singers talking about accepting who they are and outliving their past.

Christina Aguilera came out with Beautiful in 2002, a song that talks about accepting yourself despite what society or bullies say. The song discusses insecurities and dealing with a lack of self-esteem. The song came second on the Billboard Hot 100 and also won Aguilera a Grammy.

Brown Skin Girl

This song by Beyoncé, Saint Jhn and Wizkid also features Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy Carter. The song is a celebration of dark-skinned women from all around the world, and an anthem against the colourism they feel from their own families or society.

The song’s video that was released later featured famous dark-skinned women from around the world including Lupita Nyong’o and Naomi Campbell.

Brown Skin Girl received a positive response from the critics and various celebrities who took to social media to celebrate this song. For Beyoncé, it was vital that she showcased all different shades of brown and also brought in lesser-known activists who were doing their part to make this world a better place for dark-skinned women.

Summing up

There are hundreds of songs in the world that can get you thinking about what’s happening around you. With the skilful use of words and rhythm, these artists have managed to beautifully convey important messages and start discussions.

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