The best songs about injustice reflect the many different challenges the world has faced over the decades, from the civil rights movement to more recent protests against police brutality.
It’s a topic that has been explored by a wide range of artists, including the folk musicians of the 1960s and modern-day rappers and punk bands.
Continue reading for a complete playlist of the very best injustice-themed songs you can listen to from some of the hottest singers and bands of all time.
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The 21 Best Songs About Injustice
We’ve selected these songs about injustice from various eras of recent history to demonstrate the consistent themes and issues faced around the world.
Whether you’re a fan of the latest hip-hop or prefer classic rock from the 1960s and 1970s, there’s a song here that should suit your preferences.
Let’s begin our complete playlist of the 21 best songs about injustice:
21. “War” – Edwin Starr
Edwin Starr’s “War” served as a powerful rallying cry for anti-war activists protesting the Vietnam War around America when it was released in 1970.
“War, I despise ’cause it means destruction of innocent lives,” the lyrics sing, continuing, “War means tears to thousands of mother’s eyes.”
“War” was released as part of Edwin Starr’s aptly-titled album War & Peace, while the song itself was nominated for best R&B Male Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards.
20. “A Lot Of Love” – Chris Brown
Another great song exploring the nature of injustice from the R&B genre is “A Lot of Love” by Chris Brown.
Released in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, “A Lot of Love” was a powerful call for unity in the aftermath of the death of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
A prolific and highly successful artist, Chris Brown has had two number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and many more listed in the top ten.
19. “Union Maid” – Woody Guthrie
Woodie Guthrie’s “Union Maid” is, unsurprisingly, a song that speaks out in support of unions and was written from the female perspective.
The lyrics sing, “There once was a union maid, she never was afraid of the goons and the ginks and the company finks.”
While “Union Maid” was released in 1973, the melody actually comes from a song released in 1907, “Red Wing” by Kerry Mills.
18. “The Anthem” – Good Charlotte
Post-punk rock band Good Charlotte released their song “The Anthem” in 2002, which was featured on their album The Young and the Hopeless.
“And my high school it felt more to me,” sing the lyrics, continuing, “Like a jail cell a penitentiary, my time spent there, it only made me see.”
Anyone who has memories of unpleasant experiences while in high school will sympathize with the song’s counterculture leanings.
17. “Rebel Rebel” – David Bowie
David Bowie was no stranger to the rebellious undercurrent that ran through society during the peak of his career, as the song “Rebel Rebel” confirms.
It’s a catchy glam-infused rock song that calls out to anyone who is facing opposition for their efforts to shun conventions and live life in their own way.
David Bowie was a huge star over several decades, responsible for some of the best songs of all time, including “Life on Mars?”
16. “The Separation Of Church And Skate” – NOFX
NOFX’s entry on this playlist of protest songs, “The Separation of Church and Skate,” combines their punk style with political commentary.
It explores the encroachment of authoritarianism with the lyrics, “Then we could pad the floor and walls, put cameras inside bathroom stalls.”
Released at the beginning of the so-called “War on Terror,” NOFX included the track on the appropriately named album, The War on Errorism in 2003.
15. “Duality” – Slipknot
Another punky and abrasive band to have released a famous song about injustice is Slipknot, with their powerful track “Duality.”
This death metal masterpiece features an undercurrent of nihilism, with the narrator singing about pushing his fingers into his eyes to escape the madness.
It was one of the bigger hits for Slipknot, picking up a Kerang! award for Best Music Video and launching the success of the album The Subliminal Verses.
14. “Born This Way” – Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga took the opportunity to write a song in support of the LGBT community with “Born This Way,” which celebrates diversity.
A huge hit for Lady Gaga, “Born This Way” urges its listeners to accept people for who they are and respect their personal preferences.
With many more great songs in her discography, Lady Gaga has been responsible for some of the best karaoke songs, including “Shallow” with Bradley Cooper.
13. “Dump The Bosses Off Your Back” – Anne Feeney
Anna Feeney doesn’t hide her contempt for the bosses with the title of her song, “Dump the Bosses Off Your Back.”
Released in 2008, it stands as a powerful clarion cry against exploitation from unscrupulous bosses in an era of corporate greed.
It came towards the end of Anne Feeney’s long and impressive career as a folk singer, which began way back in 1969.
12. “My Generation” – The Who
Each generation faces its own challenges and injustices that need to be addressed, and The Who wrote “My Generation” as a reflection of the challenges faced in the 1960s.
It’s a song that reflects the tumultuous cultural times in which the Who lived when mods and rockers waged war on the beaches of Brighton.
The song was released on the album of the same name in 1965 and is widely regarded to be one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded.
11. “Living For The City” – Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder wrote many powerful songs about injustice, and our pick for this comprehensive playlist is “Living for the City.”
This place is cruel, nowhere could be much colder,” Wonder sings, continuing, “If we don’t change, the world will soon be over.”
Stevie Wonder covered a wide range of themes over the years, including one of the best songs about magic, “Superstition.”
10. “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2” – Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” is another great example of how British rock music accurately reflected the political zeitgeist of the era.
The most popular song from their album The Wall, it’s a damning indictment of the education system and its inability to turn out critical thinkers.
Pink Floyd has remained at the forefront of political activism over the years, with Roger Waters in particular known for his outspoken opinions.
9. “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” – Peter, Paul And Mary
Pete Seeger joined forces with Paul and Mary for the song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” a classic anthem for the civil rights movement.
It’s a song that laments the ever-growing cities around America and the rapid decline of the natural world in the face of progress.
While “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” was originally written in the 1950s, it made a comeback the following decade as a civil rights anthem in the era of Martin Luther King.
8. “I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing” – James Brown
“I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing” by James Brown reflects the singer’s experiences as a black person living in the United States.
Brown was a leading figure in the fight for racial justice and often sang about police brutality and other topics close to his heart.
Over the many years of his career, Brown wrote several hit songs and won three Grammy Awards in addition to eight nominations.
7. “We Shall Not Be Moved” – The Seekers
Another classic song that became a notable protest song during the American civil rights movement is “We Shall Not Be Moved.”
Performed by the Seekers, “We Shall Not Be Moved” was originally written as an African American spiritual before the band covered it.
In addition to entering the ranks of protest songs, it was also frequently sung on the picket lines of union protests.
6.“Bad Reputation” – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts tackled the subject of injustice from the perspective of straight-up rock music with the song “Bad Reputation.”
“Never said I wanted to improve my station an’ I’m only doin’ good when I’m havin’ fun,” the lyrics sing, “An’ I don’t have to please no one.”
It’s another defiant protest song that urges listeners to shun societal conventions and escape from the mental slavery of the modern world.
5. “Strange Fruit” – Billie Holiday
The exceptionally talented jazz singer Billie Holiday released the song “Strange Fruit” in the 1930s, and it still holds up well to this day.
It features some striking and disturbing lyrics, including the line, “Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze.”
Billie Holiday enjoyed a hugely successful career releasing many great tracks, including one of the best songs about spring, “Some Other Spring.”
4. “Glory” – Common Ft. John Legend
Common and John Legend teamed up for the huge hit “Glory,” which was featured in the powerful movie Selma about Martin Luther King Jr.
With elements of gospel music, “Glory” is a great song about the civil rights movement from the era of Bob Dylan and John Lennon.
The rap song immediately found a wide audience throughout America and resonated even further due to the tragic death of Michael Brown.
3. “Blowin’ In The Wind” – Bob Dylan
It wouldn’t be a complete list of the best songs about injustice without the inclusion of a track by Bob Dylan, who has consistently opposed everything from nuclear war to gun violence.
With “Blowin’ in the Wind,” Dylan sings about many pressing issues of his time, such as war, freedom, and peace, which still resonates to this day.
Along with artists of his time, such as Bob Marley and John Lennon, Dylan was among the highest-profile figures calling for world peace.
2. “Alright” – Kendrick Lamarr
Kendrick Lamar is one of the most active hip-hop stars working today, calling for activists to fight the power and reclaim their autonomy from the state.
“Alright” is one of many hit tracks he’s released and explores the struggles of black people in America in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The song appeared on his best-selling album To Pimp A Butterfly, which helped make Kendrick Lamar a household name both in America and around the world.
1. “This Is America” – Childish Gambino
Lastly, we’re diving into the excellent Childish Gambino song “This is America,” which topped the charts and serves as a window into contemporary American life.
It’s a playful song that nevertheless casts a critical eye over consumerism and the desire for money, as well as human rights issues around the country.
On a lighter note, Childish Gambino also wrote and performed one of the best songs about nature, “Feels Like Summer.”
So there you have it, our comprehensive playlist covering many of the best songs about injustice produced over the last few decades.
It’s a powerful topic that impacts many people in a variety of ways and is unlikely to become irrelevant at any time in the near future.
As politics continues to remain heated, we can expect many singers and bands to contribute their own protest anthem to the political debate in the future.
What songs about injustice can you best relate to? Leave a comment below.
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