Some people really don’t like this new Arcade Fire song. It doesn’t mess around with its purposeful timing and blunt lyrics, plus being almost entirely electronic. The thing is, Arcade Fire have avoided Neon Bible imagery when it comes to protest music (the organ and lyrics definitely have a Neon Bible side to it), and just gone straight for saying what they mean. The reason ‘Fuck Donald Trump’ became default anti-Trump anthem is because it didn’t mince its words, and that’s why other protest songs from this election – and there’s been plenty – haven’t struck the same chord. Songs that need to call Trump out on what he is, directly, is the key.
Mavis Staples is the trick up the sleeve of ‘I Give You Power’. It’s a complete wildcard, and one that is very welcome. She echoes Win Butler’s protests in a soulful vocal that he just can’t, and that’s why she’s been deployed here. It’s unclear whether this is actually a single from the new album, or if it’s just a spontaneous drop, but maybe this means Arcade Fire are in a political mood, and that’s never a bad thing. Speculation aside, this is protest music and goes beyond trump and goes right for the intrinsic link between right-wing populism gaining power and the intended use of democracy to ensure representation, not abuse of power. Even if that same democracy is what has helped those leaders get into the positions they currently hold, it may also be their undoing, or at least that’s Arcade Fire’s hope.