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Manics Put Power Of Politics Into Pop - The Western Mail, 25th October 2004

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Title: Manics Put Power Of Politics Into Pop
Publication: The Western Mail
Date: Monday 25th October 2004
Writer: Aled Blake

Manic Street Preachers proved last night the political song is alive and kicking. While most casual pop-watchers may believe the charts are only the domain of boybands singing about teenage crushes and dance music with mind-numbing and ridiculously fast beats, the Blackwood band have brought the return of the intelligent song to the top 10.

The band entered the charts at number two with their single The Love of Richard Nixon - a homage to the disgraced former US president, taken from their latest album, Lifeblood.

It has been described as a sneaky attempt to get sophisticated political comment into the charts, but the Manics' latest song is proving a hit.

When promoting the single, bassist Nicky Wire said, 'I've always been fascinated by him (Nixon) anyway because of his indiscriminate hatred of people. He was paranoid about everyone. It's purely a love song.

"Bill Clinton presided over genocide in Rwanda - far worse than anything Nixon did, and yet he can have dinner with U2 and everyone thinks he's great."

"Some of the things Nixon did, like breaking down barriers with China - he's going to be tainted forever with Watergate but he did some decent things."

'I suppose I just feel an empathy with paranoid megalomaniacs.'

Janis McNair, of Glasgow Caledonian University's Centre for Political Song, said although there had been a trend towards trivialising pop, there is a growing amount of political pop music being aired on the radio.

She said, "The American hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas, for example, topped the UK music charts last autumn with their pacifist ballad Where Is The Love."

"The song focuses on rising world conflict in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States. I would regard that to be a significant coup."

"Prince has also released a controversial music video depicting the discrimination of Arab-Americans to accompany the release of his new song, Cinnamon Girl."

"The video depicts an Arab-American girl detonating herself in a crowded airport terminal on what looks like US soil."

"The song reflects upon post 9/11 racial tension in the US: 'Cinnamon girl mixed heritage/Never knew the meaning of color lines/ 9/11 turned that all around/ When she got accused of this crime".

Ms McNair added, "Political songs have covered a broad range of issues from workers rights to civil rights, nationalism, peace movements and feminism."

"More recently political songs have touched upon subjects such as anti-globalisation, the collapse of energy giant Enron and the war on terror."

Radio One DJ Huw Stephens said, "I think it's a brilliant single, it's a great comeback single and I think even though it has a political message, like a lot of other Manics songs you don't really need to fully understand what the lyrics are about."

"It does make you think and it makes you want to find out who Richard Nixon is. Any band which manages to do well with a single like this I think is a good thing."