Album Information: This is the sixth studio album by the Punk Rock band Rise Against. This is their highest charting album debuting at number 2 on Billboard’s top two-hundred. The songs reference political events including the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina, the suicides of LGBTQ teens, and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. While these are grim topics the songs themselves have a positive feel trying to inspire people to take action.
Critical Evaluation: The album features many songs that act as commentary on political issues that were happening at the time. This includes “Help is on the way” that was written as commentary on the response after Hurricane Katrina. The song describes people waiting for rescue workers to save them from their homes that had been flooded. The song was also influenced by the BP oil spill and can be used to reference other issues. For example when playing live the band has dedicated the song to those suffering from damage done during the tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan. Another example of the political messages on the album is “Make it Stop: September’s children” which was inspired by the high number of suicides of LGBTQ teens in September 2010, the it gets better project, and anti-bullying. The song lyrics specifically refer to bullying and the message that things will get better if you go on living. It also lists nine teens between the ages of thirteen and nineteen that took their lives which gives the song a powerful impact. While the song was inspired by LGBTQ teens any teen who is or has been bullied can relate to the songs message.
Listeners’ Annotation: Fans of Punk Rock will appreciate how Rise Against takes on heavy topics inspiring change in the world.
Band Information: Rise Against formed in 1999 in Chicago they publically support a variety of causes and most members are straight edge and vegetarian. They have currently released seven albums and their music is popular globally having charted in several countries.
Genre: Punk Rock
Discussion Ideas: 1) What was your favorite song on the album and why?
2) How do you think the political messages of the album apply, or do not apply, to your life?
Interest level: This album can appeal to teens of all ages and will most appeal to teens who have taken an interest in political issues. While some may assume this gears it more toward older teens who are nearing voting age many younger teens are still politically aware and involved.
Challenge Issues: There is some explicit language on this album but that can be dealt with b getting the clean version of the album. The album is well reviewed and has a positive mention about enacting change and being politically aware and involved.
Why is it included?: When people think of music for teens it is tempting to just list off the pop artists that are the most aggressively marketed as being for teens but teens enjoy all kinds of music. I specifically chose this album because of the track about the suicides of LGBTQ teens as this is a political issue that directly effects teens, the anti-bullying message in the song can also be important to any teen who has been bullied and help them feel supported.