'Give Peace a Chance'? 'Fight the Power'? 'American Idiot'? What's the best protest song of all-time?

If there’s one thing rock stars like more than driving expensive cars into swimming pools while on angel dust, it’s writing tunes about how gosh darned unfair society can be. The history of the latter tendency is exhaustively tracked in British music writer Dorian Lynskey’s new tome, 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holliday to Green Day, which is out this week.

The 550-plus page tome serves as a reminder that many of the greatest tunes of all-time found their authors objecting to one societal ill or another, and I’ve embedded a tiny selection of the (at times righteously potty-mouthed) tracks Lynskey writes about below. But what do you think is the greatest protest song of all-time?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix)

More from EW.com:
Tom Morello’s favorite protest songs
Musicians release war protest songs

Comments (38 total) Add your comment
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  • Who Craig

    None of those videos are supported for mobile devices haha I don’t know whch songs they are. I guess I’ll check back on the home computer Later tonight ._.

    • Color Me Impressed

      Without a doubt, the all time best are: “Blowin in the Wind”-Bob Dylan, “Androgynous”-The Replacements, & “Sunday Bloody Sunday”-U2.

    • Color Me Impressed

      Oh and I’m not entirely sure if this counts, but Sam Cooke’s “A Change Gonna Come”.

    • Color Me Impressed

      Oh yeah I keep forgetting ones, like “Anarchy in the U.K.”-Sex Pistols, “Piss Factory”-Patti Smith, and “What’s Going On?”-Marvin Gaye.

    • Color Me Impressed

      Oh and of course how could I forget “Teenage Riot”-Sonic Youth! Sorry I’m like taking up a whole f*cking page here.

    • Color Me Impressed

      OK one more post: “This Land Is Your Land”-Woody Gunthrie, “One Tree Hill”-U2, and “Silly Eye Color Generalizations”-Regina Spektor (rebel against generalizations!).

      • Ferid

        Ohh Wow, stunning pieurtcs! I love them. Misha looks so beautiful and Ben looks dashing. Great work Sher! Yes I agree great lighting! Looking forward to the next episode of Wengy and Mish.

  • God

    “Uptown girl” for sure

    • Erin Samiloglu

      LMAO that was hilarious.

  • Amy Darnell

    “Which Side Are You On.” Bare none.

  • SM

    How about almost anything by Bad Religion? Except that EW apparently doesn’t know Bad Religion exists. And has for 30 years now.

  • dogwood bumstead

    Fight the Power doesn’t appear to protest anything other than not liking John Wayne or Elvis. fight what “power”? PG & E? Con Ed? furthermore it has no melody and the music’s just machines.

    The Revolution Will Not Be Televised seems to say that a revolution won’t be on tv. ok…so what?

    Strange Fruit is a gorgeous song with a haunting poetic lyric and is a timeless protest song. Blowing In the Wind is also a beauty. Marley’s song and Lennon’s are simple but are rousing with strong hooks. the rap stuff is just nonsense.

  • Brendan

    the best protest song of all time is either Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young or Fight for Your Right To Party by The Beastie Boys

  • TC

    “Someday We Will All Be Free” by Donny Hathaway, “What’s Going On” Marvin Gaye and “F the Police” by N.W.A.

    • Jan

      Yes, What’s Going On. I just posted that below.

  • Craig

    “Wer’e not Going To Take It” by Twisted Sister is my personal protest anthem..lol!

  • Rutiger

    “Fortunate Son” by CCR

    • LOL

      What he said ^^^

      • dogwood bumstead

        great call.

    • Jan

      Check out Todd Snider’s version. Different from the original, mournful, but I think it is as good.

  • RT

    Virtually anything by the Clash.

  • Jan

    Marvin Gaye — What’s Going On

    • Jan

      utoob rD78i6eoGkM

  • Michael

    To me, it has to be both Fight The Power by Public Enemy & American Idiot by Green Day.

  • ikagirl

    Fish Cheer. Or Ohio by CSN for very personal reasons.

  • john brown

    I’m Not Ready To Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks. That counts, right?

  • Frank from MusicNerdClub.com

    Sex Pistols’ “God Save The Queen” or Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World”. Because nothing yells “protest” like a really, really loud and noisy guitar.

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