Playlist for the Ultimate Rebel
The 13 best tracks for fighting the power! Or the man! Or your parents! Or whomever, really.
Whether you’re fighting a revolution or just really hate doing homework, we’ve got a playlist perfect for your authority-challenging needs.
Public Enemy, “Fight the Power” (1989)
Commissioned specifically for Spike Lee’s film Do the Right Thing, “Fight The Power” is about as straightforward a call to rebel as you can get. Also, nothing says “rebel” like giant clock chains.
Rebellious Line: “Got to give what we want/Gotta give us what we need/Our freedom of speech is freedom or death”
Beastie Boys, “Fight For Your Right” (1987)
Actually a parody of shitty party anthems, “Fight For Your Right” was ironic way before being ironic was cool. So, really, this is for the super cool rebels rebelling against other rebels who are just poser rebels. Got it?
Rebellious Line: “Your pop caught you smoking and he said no way!/That hypocrite smokes two packs a day”
Malvina Reynolds, “Little Boxes” (1962)
Rebellious songs don’t have to be power rock songs with more screaming than sense. If you recognize this song from Showtime’s Weeds, congratulations – you watch TV! Reynolds hoped to address American conformity with this ironically upbeat song. Since like the third Google search for this song is “Malvina Reynolds Little Boxes Meaning” we’ll just go ahead and explain: She’s saying everyone is a boring, shithead.
Rebellious Line: “And the people in the houses/All went to the university/Where they were put in boxes/And they came out all the same”
The Clash, “White Riot” (1977)
The Clash addressed class, race, and everything else nobody wants to talk about in most of their songs. The sad thing is, some morons thought this song was calling for a race war.
“Black man gotta lot a problems/But they don’t mind throwing a brick/White people go to school/Where they teach you how to be thick
Jay-Z, “99 Problems” (2004)
We’ve all been there – pulled over by the police just because we were young, black, and rich. Sigh.
Rebellious Line: “And I heard ‘Son do you know why I’m stopping you for?’/Cause I’m young and I’m black and my hat’s real low?/Do I look like a mind reader sir, I don’t know”
Rage Against The Machine, “Killing in the Name” (1993)
The military industrial complex, police, the Klu Klux Klan – if you’ve got a problem with pretty much, well, anything, “Killing in the Name”
is a great start to your day.
“Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” (repeat 9,000,000 times)
Bob Marley, “Get Up Stand Up” (1973)
Marley fought against poverty and injustice in Jamaica for his entire life. So it’s really great that this video is prefaced with an ad for the Olive Garden.
“We sick an’ tired of you ism-skism game/Dyin’ going to heaven in Jesus’ name
Billy Joel, “Prelude/Angry Young Man” (1976)
This song is kind of a dick move making fun of the angry kid who believes in something and bashes his head against the system, but it might be sung from the point of view of the same kid when he’s older, and a bitter jerk. So, yeah. There’s that. Maybe.
Rebellious Line: “And he’s proud of his scars and the battles he’s lost/He struggles and bleeds as he hangs on the cross/And he likes to be known as the angry young man”
Neil Young, “The Loner” (1969)
Everyone wants to think of himself as the cool loner, too awesome for people to understand, man. Even though you probably just smell and have a weird aversion to getting a haircut.
Rebellious Line: “He’s a perfect stranger/Like a cross/Of himself and a fox”
White Snake, “Here I Go Again” (1982)
C’mon, this wouldn’t be a list without some ’80s hair metal. The original lyric was, amazingly, “Like a HOBO I was born to walk alone.” Because, yes, hobos come out at birth with a bindle attached to their umbilical cords.
“An’ here I go again on my own/Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever know/Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
Johnny Cash, “The Rebel – Johnny Yuma” (1967)
This wouldn’t be much of a list of rebellious songs without Johnny Cash. A theme song for a movie, the character of Johnny Yuma hunts down the perfidious woman that killed his relative. We’re not sure what’s really rebellious about that, but hey, Cash says “rebel” 10 times in this song, so you listen to it and you like it.
Rebellious Line: “Johnny Yuma was a rebel/He roamed through the west/Did Johnny Yuma, the rebel/He wandered alone”
Bjork, “Army of Me” (1995)
There’s nothing quite like being shouted at by a tiny Icelandic woman to get the hell up and do something with your life.
Rebellious Line: “Stand up/You’ve got to manage/I won’t sympathize anymore/And if you complain once more/You’ll meet an army of me”
De La Soul, “Me, Myself and I” (1989)
Sadly, there are few things more rebellious than trying to be yourself. De La Soul made this track to push back against popular conceptions of what hip-hop had to be. Basically they’re saying, “If you love Japanese body pillows, just go for it, buddy.”
“Tell me, mirror, what is wrong?/Can it be my De La Clothes/Or is it just my De La Song?
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