Breaking beats: Battle tracks

By Skyler Rodriguez

Artists have been playing with themes of war and battle for decades. Think about that country ballad featuring a lone, waving flag, a conscious rap track questioning the motives of war or a pop song using battle as a metaphor for a messy relationship.

The adrenaline, fear and anticipation of a fight have served as inspiration for hooks like “War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!” — from the catchy anti-Vietnam War protest song by Edwin Starr. Songs with these themes are usually more rock, like Metallica’s “One,” Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” or The Clash’s “London Calling.” But for this playlist, I wanted to go a little more pop.

As some of our staff make their way through the West Bank, I put together this playlist. Whether you’re getting pumped for a game or getting over a breakup, these songs were made to make you wanna fight for something.

Christina Aguilera — Fighter

So thanks for making me a fighter…

This Stripped classic is guaranteed to make you stronger and more independent than ever. Christina really knows how to make a comeback track.

Destiny’s Child — Survivor

I will survive (What?)
Keep on survivin’

I remember watching MTV’s show “Making the Video” for this song, and Beyonce was keeping it flawless way before she was a solo act.

Jay Z & Kanye West — No Church in the Wild ft. Frank Ocean

What’s a mob to a king?
What’s a king to a god?
What’s a god to a non-believer?
Who don’t believe in anything?

Straight from Watch the Throne, Jay Z and Kanye enlist Frank Ocean to make a statement about religion, war and mob apparel.

Bruno Mars — Grenade

What you don’t understand is
I’d catch a grenade for ya

It’s kind of pathetic how whipped Bruno Mars sounds in “Grenade.” Don’t let anyone treat you like this BMars.

Amy Winehouse — Some Unholy War

If my man was fighting
Some unholy war
I would be behind him

In “Some Unholy War,” Winehouse solemnly sings her loyalty to her man using metaphors of combat and justice.

Rihanna — Hard ft. Jeezy

I see you aiming at my pedestal
So I think I gotta let ya’ know

Since it’s from the early days of RiRi’s “bad girl” transformation, the music video for “Hard” is probably harder than the actual song.

David Guetta — Titanium ft. Sia

You shoot me down, but I get up

This No. 1 song uses lines like, “I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose,
fire away, fire away” to show resilience. While Sia is singing more about being thick-skinned than being in an actual battle, the song is still fun to dance to, and it’s oh so catchy.

M.I.A. — Pull up the People

Son in a battle, is a son and battle too

Anyone who’s followed M.I.A.’s career knows she often ties themes of war and politics into her music. “Pull up the People” is from her debut album Arular — named after her father’s political code name during his time working with Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups. The album is filled with these political tracks camouflaged by dance beats and catchy hooks.

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