Five Finger Death Punch's "Coming Down" shows the kinds of things that could make a person be Driven to Suicide... but at the same time, shows how one friend, one family member, one person who cares could stop them from doing it. The screen at the video's end says it all:
Same goes for Nickelback's "Lullaby"... just read the Youtube comments.
Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry" is a none-too-subtle attack on mass media for the way it victimizes people and trivializes tragedy and heartbreak.
The Clash. Corporatism, Thatcherism, Industrialism, and the Vietnam War. All songs are, naturally, still very relevant today.
In Francis Child's collection of ballads, the annotation for "Sir Hugh, Or the Jew's Daughter" (Child #155), one of the trope originators of the "blood libel" is a lengthy explanation of how this belief is wrong and has had horrible consequences for numerous innocent people as when Child compiled the collection in the late 1800s. Given that some people still believe in the blood libel, this was probably an anvil which needed to be dropped.
The Last Of The Great Whales by The Dubliners. It features this killer of Empathic Environment: This morning the sun did rise crimson in the north sky. The ice was the color of blood and the winds, they did sigh. Obviously it's a song against whaling.
Life in the Fast Lane
Lyin' Eyes - "Ain't it funny how your new life didn't change things? You're still the same old girl you used to be."
New Kid in Town - You may be the hot thing right now, but you can and will always be replaced.
The Last Resort
Desperado - "You better let somebody love you before it's too late."
Get Over It - "Victim of this, victim of that; your momma's too thin, and your daddy's too fat: get over it!" "You don't wanna work, you wanna live like a king, but the big bad world doesn't owe you a thing!"
Already Gone - "So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key"
Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, one of the most beautiful, effective protest songs ever written.
Handlebars by the Flobots. The clear development from childhood ambitions to being Drunk with Power is downright chilling in its bluntness.
The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five: Don't try to go to through the gangster life, in the end, it'll only ruin your life.
Eminem is, all things considered, very good at this trope.
The album Relapse drops the anvil of 'Drugs will fuck your life up, and it takes a lot of work to fix it' like an A-Bomb.
The track "Beautiful" says in no uncertain terms that you should never let anyone tell you your worth as a human being; everyone is beautiful in his or her own way, and everyone else can go hang.
Stan has "Maybe we should act as though everything we do changes someone's life, because maybe it does".
When I'm Gone says "Love your family and be there for your children, because they're the most important things in life."
Gordon Lightfoot's "Ode to Big Blue" is as clear as can be in its condemnation of whaling, which at the time of the song's original release had driven many species to the edge of extinction — and driven some past it.
Also "The Canadian Railroad Trilogy", which is a commentary on how many people died for the sake of "progress" during the building of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, and how many of them were Chinese migrants who were paid much less than their Caucasian counterparts.
Yet another Gordon Lightfoot song is his 1968 "Black Day In July", about the 1967 Detroit race riots. Radio stations in 30 states banned the song, fearing that it would incite further violence.
Why can't we all be brothers?
Why can't we live in peace?
But the hands of the have-nots keep falling out of reach...
"I Was Only Nineteen/A Walk In The Light Green" by Australian folk rock protest band Redgum and covered by the Herd manages to completely explain the horrors of the Vietnam war and the stupidity of war in general.
Redgum's other works can be much less subtle that "I Was Only Nineteen": songs about selling off land to foreign countries ("Lear Jets Over Kulgera", "The Last Frontier"), racial relations ("Carrington Cabaret", "Maria") and other topical issues abound in their discography. Even at the end of their career, they released a song about safe sex that was as direct as they could make it ("Roll It On Robbie").
"I'm starting with the man in the mirror I'm asking him to change his ways And no message could have been any clearer, If you wanna make the world a better place Take a look at yourself and make a change"
Also, "Black or White", about racism and accepting people for who they are.
Pagan Altar's "Armageddon", "The Interlude", and "The Aftermath", meant to be listened to in sequence, describe a nuclear war that obliterates human civilization.
"Chariots of fire rode roughshod through the world, Men of vision stood ridiculed, seen but never heard. Cries of disillusionment were drowned by man's desire And the need for mass destruction Fueled the raging fire."
John Lennon's entire solo career revolves around War Is Hell anvils. He gave up on subtlety with so many of his Beatles songs (and those of the other group members) being misinterpreted, the ultimate example being the Charles Manson murders. He wanted to make it very clear what messages he was sending.
"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"
Also "Give Peace A Chance" and "Working Class Hero".
Gladys Knight and the Pips, "Midnight Train to Georgia": Stardom isn't important; love is. People who truly love you will stand by you no matter what happens.
Bob Marley - "Redemption Song."
Franco De Vita's "No basta" has the anvil "It isn't enough satisfying your offspring's material needs and wants, you also must care for them and give then moral guidance and emotional support before they get it in other places (or substances) and before they become too old to even consider hearing you". It's like a Very Special Episode in 4 minutes, but it's also one of his best songs, and, given that the song is very obviously directed to fathers (which in Latin America tend to be the biggest absence in many a kid's upbringing, even if they are living with the mother), that anvil is a very needed one.
Folk songs. Only when the songs themselves aren't totally anvilicious to begin with. Good examples from Bob Dylan: "Masters of War," "Oxford Town," "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," and especially "With God on Our Side:"
If God's on our side,
He'll stop the next war
Phil Ochs was a particularly cutting 60s folk singer whose Anviliciousness was offset with biting wit, particularly in "Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends" (an anti-apathy song) and "Love Me, I'm A Liberal" (about the hypocrisy of mainstream leftists—it was even updated in the 90s by Jello Biafra!)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio" isn't at all subtle. And works substantially better because of it. CSN's "Wooden Ships" probably qualifies as well.
Neil Young, who wrote the song, abandoned subtlety again in 2006 with the Living with War album. Dissent against Pres. Bush was discouraged, even labeled "treason" whether spoken in the press or by fellow politicians. The title track says "I never bow to the laws of the Thought Police". Another song declares "Let's Impeach The President". It was so Anvilicious that it rated a satirical promo on Saturday Night Live in which Young was credited with an album called I Do Not Agree With Many Of This Administration's Policies.
In an interview a year after that was released, Young revealed that people had been spontaneously hugging him on the street and saying "Thank you, Neil." He said he realized just how badly The War on Terror had been terrorizing the people it was meant to protect.
U2 aren't at all subtle about their beliefs and opinions, although the actual songs are usually too subtle to be called anvilicious, in that there's usually some room for interpretation. Not always, though:
"Sunday, Bloody Sunday"
"Rejoice" ("I can't change the world / But I can change the world in me")
"Silver and Gold"
"Mothers of the Disappeared"
"Peace on Earth"
"Love and Peace or Else"
"Original of the Species"
"Crumbs From Your Table"
They once did a joint song with Green Day, called "The Saints Are Coming", which has an underlying message of not giving up, no matter what, you fight for your life if it's in danger. The fact that it was raised to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and that the video is part the two playing and part news clips of Katrina doesn't hurt the message.
More than that - they showed what should've happened. The sight of military aircraft dropping aid supplies and a tank pulling a stranded ambulance through a flooded street are not ones that quickly leave. The last sign in the video saying "As NOT shown on television" left the message totally unambiguous.
This list wouldn't be complete without The Legend of Billy Jack, aka One Tin Soldier. Peace on Earth, indeed.
Bruce Hornsby's The Way It Is, and it's equally good remake by Tupac Shakur, retitled Changes.
They say hey little boy, you can't go where the others go
Cuz you don't look like they do
Say hey old man, how can you stand to think that way
Did you really think about it before you made the rules
He said Son
That's just the way it is, some things will never change
That's just the way it is,oh but don't you believe them
We gotta make a change...
It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes.
Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live
and let's change the way we treat each other.
You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do
what we gotta do, to survive.
While political punk music basically is this trope, Propagandhi do it particularly well. They manage to sum up their entire ideology in a couple of lines at the end of the two-minute song Resisting Tyrannical Government:
And yes, I recognise the irony: the system I oppose affords me the luxury of biting the hand that feeds. That's exactly why priveliged fucks like me should feel obliged to whine and kick and scream - until everyone has everything they need.
Australian band The Cat Empire has the song The Chariot:
"this song is written 'bout my friends it's engraved into this song so they know I'm not forgetting them Maybe if the world contain[s] more people like these The the news would not be telling me 'bout all our warfare endlessly..."
Taylor Swift's "Fifteen". When every song on Top 40 radio or Radio Disney is a Silly Love Song about finding the boy that you'll be with for the rest of your life (when it's not about having sex), hearing a song telling girls not to look for love in High School comes as quite a shock. It's a message that a lot more girls in middle and high school should be paying attention to.
Elvis Presley's song "In the Ghetto" is a clear condemnation of the cycle of violence and poverty of the ghettos, and of the apathy the problems of those communities receive.
Sugizo's solo songs "Spirituarise" and "No More Machine Guns, Play The Guitar," which are about, respectively, respect for the world and everyone's responsibilty to save it and ending war.
L Arc En Ciel's songs "Hoshizora" and "As One," which are incredibly strong and incredibly powerful anti-war messages. Don't believe us? Watch Hoshizora (which was written by Hyde as a protest of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) live on Youtube. Hyde is practically sobbing as he sings the last line.
The film Dreamgirls had a segment in which Jimmy and the girls "tried to do something new", and recorded a quasi-protest song over the Vietnam war. Curtis, however, was quick to prevent the track's release because it was a "message song".
Loudness has done this repeatedly. See Protest Song on their page. Among others, War Is Hell is a VERY common theme, but everything from spammers to meta on Heavy Metal to animal testing to religion has gotten its turn.
"Week End" and its promotional video: The Cycle of Revenge and violence in general, whether directed at self as suicide or at others, only leads to more violence and more death, and the end of a life is the end of the world - at least for the person dying.
"Art of Life": Face one's emotional pain and acknowledge it rather than silence oneself. Understand suicidal feelings have meaning, but that living is a better option than suicide, even if life is painful and confusing and difficult.
"Tears": Grief is a real and painful experience.
"Without You": The above, plus don't hurt the people you love and who love you, because you will regret it, and even in loss one must live on.
"Voices From The Dead": War Is Hell, and an incredibly pointless source of pain and suffering often inflicted via Collateral Damage for reasons many of its victims don't even know or care about.
"Empty Room": Mental illness and loss (whether it be financial, social, or otherwise) are isolating and painful experiences, and it is possible to be "all alone in the crowd." This one is even Harsher in Hindsightwith what eventually happened to the writer in Real Life - there were so many people who could have done something to prevent his final breakdown and death, yet no one did.
"So What": Fame rarely brings true friends, and the Groupie Brigade, the Poisonous Friend, and gossips are not true friends. Don't be them, and if you're a position to earn any of these, don't trust them.
"Bacteria" and its PV: Fascism and totalitarianism are mundane, common, infectious, and must be resisted.
"Beauty and Stupid" Sex is often emotionally complicated and confusing even when physically desired, and unlike tropes like Good People Have Good Sex and the tropes that equate sex with a given set of emotions say, that is okay.
"Waste" by Staind. While there are many anti-suicide songs out there, this one is by far one of the most brutal and honest expressions of the emotions one goes through when a friend kills themselves. Instead of going for the usual "It's going to be alright, there's so much to live for!" message that most songs of this type use, it instead says: "Suicide is a cheap way of running away from your problems, and when you die those problems don't just go away. The people you leave behind have to deal with them instead. Fuck you for not being strong enough." The message is effective—notice that one of the commenters on the linked video says that this song stopped them from committing suicide.
Tori Amos' "Me and a Gun", which is about her real-life rape. Many victims came to terms with their rape because of it, and it lead to Tori co-founding RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the largest anti-sexual assault organization in America.
Kate Bush's "Breathing", which was released during the Cold War. It's about a fetus knowing that a nuclear fallout has happened, but it still wants to live.
My radar send me danger, but my instincts tell me to keep breathing.
"The Dreaming" is about the oppression of Australia's Aborigiones. Erase the race that claim the place/And say we dig for ore.
Peter Gabriel has lots of these, especially on his third self-titled album ("Melt"). "Family Snapshot" humanizes Lee Harvey Oswald to show how even the most evil among us start out as ordinary humans, "Games Without Frontiers" analogizes the absurdity of warfare in the context of a 70s game show reminiscent of Global Guts, and "Biko" is a stirring tribute to Stephen Biko, one of the first prominent anti-apartheid activists in South Africa to gain worldwide recognition.
Johnny Cash's song "Man in Black" explains why Johnny Cash all ways wore black on stage, say that as long as there was suffering and injustice in the world, he would wear black to remind us.
Lily Allen's second album ''It's Not Me, It's You" is full of these. Including:
"Everyone's At It": Drugs are bad. Even prescription drugs if abused. Pushing it underground won't solve it.
"Not Fair": In a romantic relationship all aspects are equally important including the physical. It doesn't matter how nice you are in public if you're not willing to care enough in private to satisfy your partner sexually.
"Fuck You": No song with this title is ever going to be subtle but it's still a brilliantly effective attack on prejudice.
Rage Against the Machine has many songs which could qualify, one song that stands out is "Darkness", a song about the greed of mankind and how it leads to genocide.
A bit meta maybe, but members of Franz Ferdinand are willing to forthrightly state what many people need to hear.
Metallica gets a couple "war is hell" Anvils dropped in some of their best songs. The most up-front is "Disposable Heroes", which alternates between the view of a soldier for the verses, and his commander for the chorus:
"Back to the front You will do, what I say, when I say Back to the front You will die, when I say, you must die Back to the front"
"For a hill / Men would kill / Why? / They do not know. / Stiffened wounds test their pride. Men of five / Still alive through the raging glow / Gone insane / from the pain that they surely know For Whom the Bell Tolls
Also "Hero of the Day", on the same theme, or "...And Justice for All" about the failings of the legal system, and "Master of Puppets" and "Frantic" on the "drugs-are-bad" theme.
Dyer's Eve is about someone blaming his/her parents for overprotecting him/her and leaving him/her unprepared for life.
There's also the very first anvil the band ever dropped, "Fight Fire With Fire", the opening song from their 1984 album Ride the Lightning, about the dropping of a similarly heavy object. Though songs expressing fear of nuclear warfare weren't exactly uncommon then, it was the first time someone had managed to capture just how fucking scary and big a fucking deal it was through both lyrics and music.
"Going To A Town" by Rufus Wainwright expresses his disappointment with America's role in the world under the Bush administration and the rampant homophobia used by politicians for political gains at the expense of its most vulnerable citizens. The message is loud, clear, and unforgiving.
Tell me, do you really think you go to hell for having loved
Tell me, and not for thinking everything that you've done is good
I really need to know, after soaking the body of Jesus Christ in blood
I'm so tired of America
To further hammer the point home, during at least one live performance of the song he's dedicated it to the late Edward M. Kennedy, whose successor in the US Senate Rufus is not a fan of.
Band Aid's (the original one) "Do They Know It's Christmas" drops a pretty effective anvil about not putting on blinders regarding poverty and needing to actually do something about it.
"Father Christmas" by The Kinks, on the other hand, with its call against holiday materialism and in recognition of the poor, was a Christmas Anvil that needed to be dropped.
Death's "Crystal Mountain", about why proselytizing is forcing yourself on other people.
Darryl Worley's song "Sounds Like Life to Me" repeatedly hammers home that life isn't always easy, but that the hard times shouldn't prevent us from enjoying what we have, and doesn't even try to be subtle about it.
Tim Minchin's "Pope Song" (warning: Very NSFW) does not mince words about his position on the child abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.
Angelspit's "Girl Poison" is a scathing look at how underage girls encounter sex and lose their innocence as a result of the media, which in turn feeds off their insecurities.
Lyfe Jennings's S.E.X another song about teenagers being pressured into sex.
Australian pub rock band Midnight Oil pretty much built a career out of dropping anvils about politics and social issues; particularly nuclear disarmament, Aborigine rights, and the working class.
Blowin' in the Wind: "How many times can a man turn his head/ And pretend that he just doesn't see?"
M.I.A.'s new music video for "Born Free" is extremely graphic in its depiction of young redheaded men being rounded up and executed, but it also demonstrates the horror of genocide and the absurdity of the discrimination that's used to justify it.
"Heaven is Falling", which Bad Religion originally released as an "emergency" 7-inch during the first Gulf War. Given the lead time for CD production — and the brevity of many "wars" against overwhelmingly-disadvantaged opponents — they didn't think people should have had to wait for the release of Generator to hear the song:
God I know that it's wrong To kill my brother for what he hasn't done And as the planes blacken the sky It sounds like heaven is falling You promised me a new day dawning I've seen a thousand points of light Like so many points of hatred, shame and horror
Gorillaz' "Feel Good Inc" is especially Anvilicious when accompanied by the video. The anvil - hedonism is not a way to live your life and it will imprison you sooner or later, leaving you yearning to go back to the little joys of your innocent youth.
"Slow Down Ghandi," by Sage Francis:
So what's the truth, quit seeking forgiveness You need to cut the noose, but you don't believe in scissors You support the troops by wearing yellow ribbons? Just bring home our motherfuckin' brothers and sisters
Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle". The anvil is to be there for your kids, and appreciate your time with them. The real tragedy to that song, of course, is that the son DIDN'T grow up just like the father - who would never let "... and the kid's got the flu ..." interfere with his affairs.
Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya: War affects everyone, especially those left behind.
Lauryn Hill, similar to India.Arie above, released some very anvilicious songs before deciding celebrity wasn't worth it. That Thing called out people in the black community who claimed to be Christians and Muslims but behaved like sex-crazed exhibitionists. It was practically a sermon, but damn if it didn't make for some fine listening
How you gonna win when you ain't right within?
Uh-uh, come again.
P!nk's "Stupid Girls" urges young women to rely on their brains. The song and especially the video can be pretty heavy-handed and downright mean to the type of girls she's ripping into, but we're living in a world where young girls are being taught that, in order to matter, you have to have an eating disorder, plastic surgery, and become "famous" for having a sex tape released, so, yeah, P!nk actually did a good job of telling viewers that girls need to use their brains if they ever want to make something of themselves.
John Prine's "Sam Stone", an anvil that needed to be dropped about soldiers' addictions after coming home from Vietnam. 'There's a hole in Daddy's arm where the money goes/ Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose.' Subtle? Not exactly. Beautiful and effective? Very.
Billy Joel's "Leningrad": both sides of the Cold War were just people - basically the same in the end.
"We never knew what friends we had until we came to Leningrad."
Sting's "Russians" dropped a similar anvil a few years prior (both songs were released in the 80s): There is no monopoly in common sense on either side of the political fence / We share the same biology, regardless of ideology. Given what happened shortly thereafter, their anvils about moving beyond a black-white Cold War mindset were possibly a reflection of evolving public opinion.
Anytime anybody pulls you down Anytime anybody says you're not allowed Just remember you are not alone In the aftermath.
The Bowling for Soup song I'm Gay is essentially the message of the Justice League episode below: You don't have to be serious. Sometimes all that matters is if you have fun and enjoy doing what you're doing. And no, its not Jarret Reddick coming out of the closet.
The band themselves also deliver the Anti-homophobia message in many other songs, to the point it becomes a little too anvilicious.
Tom Robinson's protest song, "Glad To Be Gay". Nothing with that title is going to be subtle; the song is bitingly bitter, sarcastic, angry, and delightful — and released in the mid-seventies.
"Repetition" (Lodger, 1979) is a clanging, dissonant tune that threatens to bruise the ears, but once you've digested the lyrics it makes sense that it be so — it's a blunt description of the life and mindset of a Domestic Abuser and the cowed acceptance of his victims, a subject undeserving of melodic or vocal tenderness.
Well Johnny is a man And he's bigger than her I guess the bruises won't show If she wears long sleeves But the space in her eyes Shows through
Rush has "The Pass" - which states that suicide is NEVER the answer, and that there is always hope.
'Western skies' don't make it right 'Home of the brave' don't make no sense I've seen a scarecrow wrapped in wire Left to die on a high ridge fence It's a cold, cold wind It's a cold, cold wind It's a cold wind blowing, Wyoming
"Hands of Hate" is about the murders of Mathew Shepard and Lawrence King, and the suicides of Tyler Clementi and Jamey Rodemeyer. All four gay youth.
"In My Hands" is about anti-LGBT bullying, and was written after he received many letters from LGBT kids telling him about how they had been bullied.
And I'm holding people's stories in my my hands 'Cause they write me, and they tell me what's gone wrong And I'm holding people's stories in my hands Because they write me, and they told me who's to blame 'Cause they write me, and they told me you're to blame
"The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World. Explicit in its theme, it is still something that many a generation of confused and insecure teenagers need repeated back to them. Don't let other people make you question your self-worth, you are worthwhile.
Martina McBride's "Concrete Angel". Message: "Don't ignore Domestic Abuse just because you're scared. Imagine what the victim is going through. Don't ignore it until something uncorrectable happens." The music video isn't necessary as the lyrics provide enough weight but it certainly makes the blow heavier since they aren't subtle with their images — because that's the reality of domestic abuse, why should they hide it to make the audience feel better?
The Dead Kennedys' entire career is built of this trope, but "Holiday in Cambodia" (don't assume you know how the poor suffer if you're not one), "Kill the Poor"' (the Neutron Bomb is not a good idea) and "Nazi Punks (F*ck off)" (...actually, the title pretty much says it all) deserve special mention.
"The Irony Of It All" by UK rap/garage outfit The Streets, which all but hammers its message of marijuana's relative harmlessness, compared with the many serious issues with alcohol abuse. Tim the pothead introduces himself as a criminal in his verses, but is practically harmless to the point of not complaining when the pizza delivery sends him the wrong order. Terry the alcoholic lout describes himself as a "law-abider" throughout his verses, but gets into fights regularly and mentions spitting in the face of a police officer.
Sabaton. War Is Hell. There in no right side or wrong side, just soldiers dying in the mud because of politicians' games. "Angels Calling" ("Hell on Earth...the ultimate test is a synchronized sacrifice...Dream of Heaven, angels are calling your name") and particularly "The Price of a Mile".
Six miles of ground has been won Half a million men are gone And as the men crawled the general called And the killing carried on and carried on What was the purpose of it all? What is the price of a mile?
Moxy Fruvous, especially in their early days - from their first album Bargainville alone, we get "River Valley" (environmentalism), their cover of "Spider Man" (over-comercialization and jingoization of products aimed at children), "The Drinking Song" (dangerous binge drinking), and "Gulf War Song" about the polarization of political positions, with the inimitable line:
What makes a person so poisonous righteous
That he'll think less of anyone who just disagrees?
Great Big Sea used to sing about Canadian east-coast political issues, dropping anvils regarding the loss of a valid, viable fishery due to deregulation and commercialization and subsequent overfishing ("Fisherman's Lament"), election promises leading nowhere ("Someday Soon"), and the grand-scale personal depression that follows on the heels of economic depression ("Nothing Out Of Nothing").
Ed Sheeran's song The A Team is, by itself, a touching song about a prostitute who's addicted to illegal drugs. It's not obvious enough to be anvilicious, but the message doesn't take much decoding to understand. Little Lady is a collaboration using parts of The A Team with Mikill Pane, who raps about an immigrant whose mother worked to send her to Britain to live with her uncle, in hopes of her having a better life. The girl's uncle is a pimp who brutalises the girl, and when his attacks force her to go to a hospital, she attracts the attention of a nurse who calls the police. The girl refuses to co-operate, and when she goes home she is murdered by her uncle when he sees the number the police gave her to call. Moral:prostitutes do not deserve to be vilified and punished. They are the victims of their crime, stuck in horrific situations, and they deserve to be helped.
The Power Metal band Metal Church dropped many anvils during their time with Mike Howe as singer (1989-94) but none so effectively as "In Mourning" and "In Harm's Way" off of The Human Factor. All children need to be given love, guidance, and a stable family, and that the lack of these is what causes school shootings, suicide, and other childhood tragedies.
Maybe if you'd listen than you'd know what I just said If you think the words I'm singing are why your kids are dead Maybe could it be that no one was there to hear Did you pay attention to their angers and their fears? You're trying to find someone to blame who can't be put on trial The enemy you're looking for is laughing all the while I mourn for those who have been so deceived You know the last words that they spoke were "Who loves me?" I hope that someday you will stop and realize Just why so many kids have died
R.E.M.'s lyrics are usually very cryptic, but Everybody Hurts is so plainly expressed that it might as well be being spoken directly to someone who's contemplating suicide. The message: You Are Not Alone, however much it may feel like it. Most of humanity will have been depressed at some point, and there are people who are willing to help and don't want you to end your life.
"Never Again" by Disturbed is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face, but gives a powerful message about the horrors of genocide and how they should never happen
Rod Stewart's self-penned 'The Killing of Georgie' has an incredibly simple tune (almost entirely one-chord) and a non-too subtle message ('Homosexuals can have loving relationships just like heterosexuals and killing them is wrong') but is all the more powerful because of this.
Oh, you crazy fools, don't you know you have it made?/You've been living in paradise/But take it from one who knows/Who knows the gates of Heaven can close/I only pray that you take my advice/'Cause paradise won't come twice.
Reba McEntire's song "She Thinks His Name Was John" is about a woman who contracts HIV/AIDS from a one-night stand. It was released in the mid 90's, a time when many people thought only homosexuals could contract the disease.
Sophie Ellis Bextor is not at all subtle with the You Are Not Alone Anvil in "Mixed Up World" but it still works in the way it is presented. It basically says that yes life can be really tough and cynical a lot of the time but that's okay because you're stronger than you think and you're not the only one with the problem.
Pink Floyd's The Wall is essentially all about showing what happens when you let your emotional wounds get the better of you, as Pink becomes a cold, destructive person. It also makes the point that no matter how far gone you may be, you can tear down the emotional barriers that turn you into such a person.
Many of their anti-war anvils are also far from subtle (especially on The Final Cut and, again, The Wall), but again, they wouldn't be half as effective if they were. The political anvils on Animals are also far from subtle, but as with George Orwell's Animal Farm, which inspired it, they gain much for their directness.
"People are People" by Depeche Mode, on prejudice and bigotry:
You're punching and you're kicking and you're shouting at me
I'm relying on your common decency
So far it hasn't surfaced but I'm sure it exists
It just takes a while to travel from your head to your fists
Stan Rogers's "House of Orange," strong words against both the IRA and Loyalist terrorists during the Troubles, and the people who were raising money for them in North America.