- Orphaned Land. A Middle Eastern metal band, nearly every one of their songs is about how pointless, destructive, and futile the Cycle of Revenge in the area is. Their song "All Is One" hits this hardest with its plea to the listener to break the cycle:
Evil falls on each of us, that's nothing new.
Who cares if you're a Muslim or a Jew?
The awakened ones are nothing but a few,
And the one to make the difference now is you!
- "The Last Stop" by the Dave Matthews Band. It does not shy away from calling people who kill "in the name of God" out as the hypocritical asshats that they are.
- 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:
- 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. It's become a LOT more relevant since it was first released.
- 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"note 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.
- The Eagles:
- "Life in the Fast Lane" - It's entirely possible to live life too fast - and the end result will inevitably be to crash and burn.
- "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 who says otherwise 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."
- Headlights says that no matter how much bad blood you have with someone, it's never too late to apologize and try to make amends.
- "Sing for the Moment" is a scathing criticism of the New Media Are Evil attitude in general, "OMG rap is corrupting our children!" in particular.
- 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 than "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").
- Eric Bogle:
- "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is an extraordinarily powerful anti-war song, not at all subtle in its message.
- Similarly, his song "No Man's Land" (covered by, among others, Dropkick Murphys and The High Kings as "The Green Fields of France").
Now young Willy McBride, I can't help but wonder, why?
Do those that lie here know why did they die?
And did they believe when they answered the call?
Did they really believe that this war would end wars?
For the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the shame
The killing and dying were all done in vain
For young Willy McBride it all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again
- Also, his song "My Youngest Son Came Home Today" (sometimes mistakenly believed to have been written by Billy Bragg, who covered it).
- No one would call John McCutcheon's "Christmas in the Trenches" subtle, but grown men have been driven to tears by it.
"And on each end of the rifle we're the same"
- Jona Lewie's "Stop The Cavalry" has pretty much the same message, but people hear it as a cute Christmas song.
- Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" wouldn't gain anything by being subtle.
- Rise Against isn't a very subtle band, but that's the point.
- "Make It Stop" is the 9001 ton anvil that they felt needed to be dropped.
- Michael Jackson - "Man in the Mirror" . It even hangs a lampshade:
"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"
- The videos for "Earth Song" and "They Don't Really Care About Us" also qualify (as if the songs themselves didn't drop the hammer heavily enough).
- 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".
- The oeuvre of Bruce Springsteen is filled with several of these.
- The Cranberries: "Zombie"
- 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 (And 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.
Now they stood beside the treasure
On the mountain dark and red
Turned the stone and looked beneath it
Peace on Earth was all it said.
- Bruce Hornsby's The Way It Is, and its 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 privileged fucks like me should feel obliged to whine and kick and scream — until everyone has everything they need.
- Queen was no stranger to this. And their most perfect Anvil that needed to be dropped was Is this the World we Created? Especially in their Live Aid performance.
- 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".
- Music/Yellowcard's Two Weeks From Twenty. War is everyone's fault.
- Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" bluntly depicts the horrors of gang violence and deconstructs the glorified lifestyle that rap culture creates around it. And to drive the nail home even further, it was released around the same time that several well-known rappers were murdered, including The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Both are believed to be gang related.
- Nine Inch Nails' album Year Zero dropped the anvil on oppressive governments and, well, a lot of things.
- 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.
- X Japan:
- "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 Hindsight with 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.
- "Genkai Haretsu" and its PV: Believe Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny? Congratulations, you are the necrophiliac Villain Protagonist!
- "Pink Spider": Be Yourself - even if doing so is taking a huge chance.
- "Pose": Everybody wants to be somebody, and secondarily, fame isn't necessarily the best road to that.
- "Oblaat": There are many people happy to lose themselves in mindless pursuits and live stupidly, while ignoring problems. Don't be one of them.
- "What's Up Mr. Jones": Selling out as an artist is not a good thing, not even for the one who does it — waking up and acknowledging one has done it is.
- Frank Zappa dropped so many anvils in his time, it was like "Anvil Chorus", but the anvils never took away from the music. Some particularly anvilicious albums:
Freak Out (well, every other song)
We're Only In It For The Money
You Are What You Is
- Jethro Tull drops them by the megaton, but this just makes their music all the more brilliant. Some of their more anvilicious albums:
Thick As A Brick
A Passion Play
- Suzanne Vega's "Luka" - Child abuse and how no one should ignore the plight of the children enduring it.
- The Lyrical Dissonance makes the song even more anvilicious when people pay attention to the lyrics, and so they should.
- Word of God is that the song is worded so as to put the listener in that uncomfortable spot of being the silent witness. (Word of God by way of Pop-Up Video, anyway.)
- Almost every song by Tracy Chapman has an anvil that gets dropped — greed, helping your family, racial tension, domestic abuse — she runs the gamut.
Last night I heard the screaming
Loud voices behind the wall
Another sleepless night for me
It won't do no good to call
Always come late
If they come at all
And when they arrive
They say they can't interfere
With domestic affairs
Between a man and his wife
And as they walk out the door
The tears well up in her eyes
- "Young" by Hollywood Undead. "When adults wage war, children are the ones who pay the most." (Link is to an Avatar: The Last Airbender AMV because that series dropped that anvil as well).
- Bomani "D'Mite" Armah forgoes subtlety and metaphor: "Read a book/Read a book/Read a Motherfuckin' BOOK!" Considering the controversy around the airing of the video...
- "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 always wore black on stage, saying 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.
- "The Fear": Money won't make you happy.
- "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.
- "Hard Out Here", from Lily's third album Sheezus: Women still have to deal with sexism and injustice, and we still have a long way to go before the genders can be considered equal.
- Icon For Hire has many of these, include Make a Move (you need to act, not just hope for things to change), but their latest song, Now You Know is a precision-dropped anvil about how sexist the music industry and rock music fans can be, and how ridiculous the double standards for women singers are.
- 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.
- "Settle For Nothing", despite being one of their more subdued songs, is still up-front about its message:
"If we don't take action now,
We'll settle for nothing later
Settle for nothing now,
And we'll settle for nothing later."
- 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"
"Darkness imprisoning me / All that I see / Absolute Horror / I cannot live / I cannot die / Trapped in myself / Body my holding cell"
"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.
- And of course there is "Blackened". Green Aesops have never been so brutal.
- "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.
- "You Say the Battle is Over" by John Denver contains a Green Aesop mixed with Humans Are Bastards.
Now the blame cannot fall
On the heads of a few
It's become such a part of the race
It's eternally tragic
That that which is magic
Be killed at the end of the glorious chase
From young seals to great whales
From waters to wood
They will fall just like weeds in the wind
With fur coats and perfumes
And trophies on walls
What a hell of a race to call men
- Another good John Denver one is "What Are We Making Weapons For (Let Us Begin)" deals not just with the futility of war, but with the futility of arms race in general.
Tell me how can it be we're still fighting each other
What does it take for a people to learn
If our song is not sung as a chorus we surly will burn
What are we making weapons for?
Why keep on feeding the war machine?
We take it away from the mouths of our babies
Take it away from the hands of the poor
Tell me, "what are we making weapons for?"
Have we forgotten...
All the vows that were taken...
All the lives that were given...
Saying "Never again?"
- 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.
- "Misanthrope": yes, there are plenty of bad people in the world, but there are plenty of good people as well, and blindly hating all of humanity just because of the assholes is childish and lazy.
- "Without Judgement": ignorance and knee-jerk reductivism are comfortable because people are afraid to challenge their worldviews and too lazy to critically evaluate anything.
- 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. The message is that if you are offended by the way he describes the Pope, but not by pedophile priests and the Pope's cover-up and protection of said priests, then you seriously need to get your priorities straight.
- Similarly, "The Fence" points out that the world is not as black and white as some would believe. Minchin takes the example of how "troops are good" and "paedophiles are evil", arguing that surely there is bound to be some overlap between the groups somewhere along the line, even if the latter is worse than the former.
- 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.
- "Sex is Not the Enemy" by Garbage: "Sex isn't bad, and you shouldn't be ashamed of your sex life."
- "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 Gandhi," 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 DID 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.
- India.Arie's I Am Not My Hair: Drops an anvil on the black community that is way too focused on achieving a Eurocentric look.
- 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, Pink actually did a good job of telling viewers that girls need to use their brains if they ever want to make something of themselves.
- "Raise Your Glass" and "F***in' Perfect" are both Be Yourself anthems, the latter with a strong anti-suicide theme. (Especially in the video.)
- "U + Ur Hand" is all about asshole men who assume that any woman they find attractive is just there for them to fuck. The anvil is, "I'm not here for your entertainment." Lyrics NSFW.
- "Don't Let Me Get Me" has a great message about Hollywood's expectations to sell their artists as sex symbols is harmful and she compares it to high school where you're judged on the image you give off rather than who you really are
- 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.
- Tomboy's "OK2bgay" is too ridiculous to be taken seriously, yet the message is too important to ignore.
- Adam Lambert's "Aftermath" has a message which basically boils down to you are never alone. Proceeds from a remix of the song went to The Trevor Project.
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, it's 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.
- David Bowie examples:
- The final track of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide", is one of the most touching expressions of You Are Not Alone ever, using almost the exact phrase in the lyrics.
- "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
- Rush has "The Pass" - which states that suicide is NEVER the answer, and that there is always hope.
- The Yardbirds' "Mr. You're A Better Man Than I" is a successful, bitingly sarcastic attack on prejudice.
- Simon & Garfunkel. Several songs, but notably "The Sun is Burning", which is all the more horrifying because it sounds so happy.
- According to 30 Seconds to Mars' "Closer to the Edge", you should never regret anything that happens in your life. Even the bad parts make you the person you are now.
- "This is War" directly acknowledges the fact that it's trying to drop an anvil in its music video ("This is a song about peace") and is all the better for it.
- El Général, who wrote and performed the song Rais Ebled, dropped an anvil that needed dropping. It opened the floodgate and started the Tunisian Revolution.
- Elton John's "American Triangle", which is about the real-life murder of Matthew Shepard for being gay.
'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
- Ryan Cassata seems to be very fond of this:
- The music video for "Sleeping Through" is about transgender suicide.
- "Hands of Hate" is about the murders of Mathew Shepard and Lawrence King, and the suicides of Tyler Clementi and Jamey Rodemeyer. All four LGBT 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?
- Jason Michael Carrol's "Alyssa Lies" makes a similar point about child abuse - don't assume someone else has or will report it, and that the excuse of "there's nothing you can do" is just that - an excuse.
My little girl asked me why everybody looked so sad.
The lump in my throat grew bigger with every question that she asked.
Until I felt the tears run down my face,
And I told her that Alyssa wouldn't be in school today.
- 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 of them), "Kill the Poor" (the Neutron Bomb isn't a good idea) and "Nazi Punks Fuck 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 are often thought of as a War Has Never Been So Much Fun band, but they do have the occasional War Is Hell track. In "Angels Calling", there is no right side or wrong side, just soldiers dying in the mud because of politicians' games. ("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 Früvous, 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 Thrash 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 then 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.
- Arcade Fire, considering their musical style and inspirations, are quite fond of dropping this every now and then. Notable examples include:
- "Neon Bible": Squandering church donations and bible sales for selfish reasons rather than for charity, a problem that is not addressed enough.
- "Intervention": An ironically gospel-inspired Protest Song that basically says not to use your religion to justify violence, hatred and especially war. Considering the time that Neon Bible was released, it's undeniably appropriate.
- "(Antichrist Television Blues)": Uses the metaphor of an overzealous Stage Dad forcing his only daughter to pursue a career as a Christian singer to make money for himself and avoid work to address the problem of religious and pathological pressure that parents tend to push unto their children.
- The entirety of The Suburbs: It's a Concept Album that's story centrals around a suburban neighborhood that has been destroyed and used as a defense line during a massive civil war, which could be interpreted as a metaphoric message telling teenagers not to waste their childhood and teenhood on adult issues that will only ruin their lives by overriding nostalgia. The punch that really fuels this theory is the penultimate verse of the entire album, from "The Suburbs (Continued)":
If I could have it back
All the time that we wasted
I'd only waste it again
If I could have it back
You know I'd love to waste it again
Waste it again and again and again
- "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.
- Their song "I'm Alive" is about this and how it's wrong to force a person to change who they are, whether in terms of gender or sexuality, religiously or otherwise.
- The song "Sacred Lie" is especially about Iraq, but more generally about how people need to look for the truth and how war is pointless manipulation of people by their leaders, but at the same time that soldiers are as much victims as civilians.
- Then there's "Another Way To Die", which basically amounts to "If we don't stop abusing the environment, we will all die horribly." The music video, on the other hand, juxtaposes wantonly wasteful first-world culture with starvation and painfully strict rationing in refugee camps. This has the effect of beating subtlety to a bloody pulp, shooting it in the face with a machine gun, and then pouring gasoline on its corpse before dropping a nuke on it - and, yet, the egregious overkill works.
- "Legion of Monsters", from the Immortalized album, is all about how giving attention and fame to mass murderers is only going to create more of them. The song was written out of lead singer David Draiman's anger at seeing the Boston Marathon bomber plastered everywhere after the tragedy, ensuring that the world would remember his name.
- 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.
- Five Man Electrical Band were very clear when writing the Green Aesop song I'm a Stranger Here, made especially powerful by how hauntingly the final line in the verse is sung:
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-'90s, 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.
- Before they discarded them along with their open Christianity in favor of Word Salad Lyrics, Underoath had a couple big anvils on their unusually political debut Act of Depression. "Heart of Stone" (a liberal Christian attack on Knight Templar Fundamentalist)s), "Innocence Stolen" (which explains quite bluntly why Rape Is Bad), and the title track (a 10-minute account of a depressed and bullied person Driven to Suicide that, near the end of the song, shifts POV to the bully who realizes the consequences of his/her actions after seeing the protagonist's dead body) express much-needed messages.
- We All Bleed Red by Ronnie Dunn. It's one big storm of cliches repeating the message "we are not so different" in various ways, but damn it's powerful and effective.
We all bleed red, we all taste rain
All fall down, lose our way
We all say words we regret
We all cry tears, we all bleed red
Sometimes we're strong, sometimes we're weak
Sometimes we're hurt, it cuts deep
We all say words we regret
We're all the same, we all bleed red
- Roger Waters' work, in its near entirety, is a HUMONGOUS ANVIL spanning across multiple fronts. You name any tropes on this page, chances are very good that Roger's incorporated it within songs, albums, and the like.
- 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. It also drops a surprisingly nuanced anvil about the importance of thinking for yourself: yes, blindly obeying your parents, your teachers, and your government is bad — but so is blindly following a charismatic anti-authority figure just to get back at them; if you don't learn from your past and learn to think independently, you can find yourself becoming the very thing that you hate.
- 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.
- More Personal Anvils can be found in his solo work, first with "The Pros & Cons of Hitchhiking," a set of songs inspired by a disjointed series of dreams that border on Humans Are Bastards, especially involving the protagonist picking up a hitchhiker, then having sex with said hitchhiker, being kidnapped by terrorists, and having a weird series of encounters before finally waking up. "Radio K.A.O.S." takes up the same anti-war sentiment found in "The Wall," though much more focused on Espionage and judgment of the harsh mistreatment of the local Authorities (akin to Gattica, Rodney King, you name it). Lastly, "Amused To Death" is focused on Western Laziness, how entertainment can be involved, and how God is often blamed by those misfortunate in the midst of their doldrums. To say that Waters' work is moralizing or drops an anvil or two is a massive understatement.
- "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.
- Lou Reed's New York is full of rants about the dismal state of New York City at the time — AIDS, poverty, corruption, the whole gamut of issues is touched upon. It's usually regarded as one of his best post-Velvet Underground albums.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" is not subtle about how some people get out of military service because of their privileged and fortunate families, while the rest of the population doesn't have that option.
- "Hero's Song" by Brendan James is a poignant anti-war song which also reminds soldiers not to settle for Just Following Orders and find their own personal reasons for fighting.
"Fall out, fall out with the rest of your brothers,
With the rest of your sisters, and heroes on the line,
And carry out what your leader says, because what his leader says,
Is that his leader says this is right for the people
No one will ever understand why thousands of beautiful, healthy young statues must fall"
- "Paradise" by Eyedea spells out why it's dangerous to base your life around your relationships, that loving somebody and needing them are definitely not the same thing, and hope that you learn to find your own happiness instead of always relying on someone else to feel loved. The first two verses focus on a man and a woman trapped in a loveless relationship with each other, and the final verse takes the perspective of the man, who finally decides to let her go for both their sakes.
"I don't expect you to stay chained by the ankle,
There's so much world to see, so, fly free my angel
I'm dying without you, but it's teaching me to live
Heaven ain't something someone else can give... it's all inside of me."
- Straylight Run's "Who Will Save Us Now?" practically states about its title that "it's a wrong and irrelevant question", because ultimately, you have to decide what's best for you. Not your heroes, not your idols, and definitely not the politicians you elect will show you the right path to take.
"'Who will save us now?'
It's a wrong, and irrelevant question
Cause we figure it out
With the people who love us, who call us their brothers,
Through lessons we learn from our fathers and mothers
Not looking for someone to find our solutions,
To fight all our battles and show us what truth is,
But working hard to find our own peace of mind,
Living and learning till we know what's right for our lives!"
- The Indelicates are a very understated British indie rock band who have written several songs about the rarely-discussed (relative to the rest of the world) issues that British people have regarding class and social standing. They even have an entire album devoted to these and other problems with the country, lovingly titled "Diseases of England". Here's one of the songs from the aforementioned album, satirizing the condescending attitude of the higher class. And for a nice read regarding the lead singer's own opinions, check this out.
- Amy Studt's "Misfit" criticizes those who conform to social standards and labels them superficial — saying that it's okay to Be Yourself. The video also shows that all cliques can be bad, not just popular ones — Amy gets bullied by goths and nerds as well and she's only truly happy when she does her own thing.
- "Something Bout Love" by David Archuleta basically boils down to "Yes, loving someone can end up breaking your heart because they don't deserve it, but that doesn't mean you should stop loving."
- Even though Faith No More are usually touted — even praised — as being a very anti-anvil band, they do occasionally pull out a less-than-subtle mind jolt to prove a vital point.
- "We Care a Lot", as lighthearted as it is, is a much needed counter to society's shallow facade of compassion that feeds their egos more than any impoverished people.
- "Zombie Eaters" was an unabashedly creepy You Suck metaphor for probably a good chunk of their fanbase's relationships with women.
- "The Real Thing" tells the listener to pay attention to the finer details in the real world in order to appreciate it.
- "Midlife Crisis" gives a rather Squicky glimpse behind the narcissistic facade of the much-idolized career celebrity.
- "Smaller and Smaller" gives a clear picture to what non-first world life is really like.
- "Everything's Ruined" details the Karmic Death that befalls overzealous and amoral corporations. Given the band's circumstances at the time, it can also be a metaphor for their battle with the music industry.
- "Paths of Glory" is probably the closest the band comes to an identifiably Anvilicious number, and manages to perfectly show a War Is Hell picture with extremely simple music and lyrics.
- Orden Ogan, with The Things We Believe In. If you truly believe in something, be prepared to put your money where your mouth is, and don't be afraid to die for it.
- The Macklemore song "Same Love" pretty much hits you in the face with its message about acceptance of everyone, regardless of race, orientation, or anything else (though it mostly focuses on homosexuality and how, in an age of people trying to be tolerant, still have issues with it), but the points it brings up are pretty dead-on, especially this one:
America the brave
Still fears what we don't know.
- Slightly less serious but still important is the message of "Thrift Shop," which is about how buying expensive brands and clothes isn't going to get you laid; Macklemore spends the whole song describing how awesome he feels in hand-me-down clothes.
That shirt's hella dope.
But having the same one as six other people in this club is a "hella don't!"
Peek, gang, come take a look through my telescope
Trying to get girls from a brand? Man, you hella won't!
- Septicflesh's "Ground Zero": postmodernism is not "real art", it's a masturbatory pity party that sucks out creativity and replaces it with childish nihilism.
- While it's true that the Alice in Chains album 'Dirt' essentially boils down to Drugs Are Bad, it's still a pretty important message - especially considering what ended up happening to poor Layne Staley.
- Afghan-Iranian rapper Sonita Alizadeh's "Brides for Sale" is about as subtle about its anti-Arranged Marriage, pro-women's rights message as an anvil to the head. And deservedly so, since it was written in response to her own incipient Arranged Marriage, and the imagery of her rapping with a bar code on her forehead, beaten and bloodied in a wedding dress, was so effective her parents actually cancelled the wedding, and she got a scholarship to a Utah art school.
- David Allan Coe's "Fuck Anita Bryant" is probably the first pro gay rights song.
- As a general rule, Kacey Musgraves throws subtlety right in the trash when she has a point to make: "Follow Your Arrow" is a song promoting acceptance of others and being yourself, no matter what others think, and "Biscuits" is a song about how making other people feel bad won't make you feel good. Both are excellent messages and both are delivered about as unsubtly as possible.
- "Hell is for Children" by Pat Benatar is about child abuse, specifically the unfortunately common practice of children being abused by their parents and being coerced into keeping the abuse a secret.
- "Politically Correct" by SR-71 tells how rampant political correctness can cause someone to be unable to connect to anyone and be unable to see and understand other's opinions and is basically the same as living in constant fear of offending someone.
- Enter Shikari's more politically-charged songs range from symbolic/metaphorical lyrics (Juggernauts) to straight-up statements of the anvil they're trying to drop. For example, Gandhi Mate, Gandhi begins with a 45-second long rant, and later includes the phrase "If we keep them silent, then they'll resort to violence, and that's how you criminalise change"; and Quelle Surprise prominently features the line "If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything".
- "American Skin (41 shots)" by Bruce Springsteen, about police brutality, racism, and trigger happiness, is almost timeless, in its anvil dropping. It was written in response to a case where police shot a man 41 times, but with the recent spat of police killing black men who often didn't even present a threat to them, like with Laquan McDonald, who was walking away from the police hold a knife at his side, posing no immediate threat, before being shot 16 times in the back, it takes on a whole new resonance.
- Believe it or not, "One in a Million", on the surface an extremely bigoted song which Guns N' Roses hasn't quite been able to live down, was intended to be an example of this by Axl Rose, according to reevaluations of the song. Rose's intent was to expose just how deeply entrenched bigotry is in American society and force Americans to confront minority-related issues head-on. Apparently, he thought the best way to go about it would be to put himself in a bigot's shoes and channel his own negative experiences with said minorities into his writing.
- Green Day's American Idiot is initially upfront about how blindly following the media is a bad thing. But surprisingly, the album later makes a turnaround and portrays the other extreme as equally bad: the protagonist blindly rebels against society to alleviate his Small Town Boredom, but alienates everyone around him in the process, causing him to eventually return home. In other words, those who blindly follow the media and those who rebel against it are both American Idiots.
- The Antlers' album Hospice drops an unsubtle but powerful anvil on abusive relationships, using the metaphor of a romance between a hospice worker and a cancer patient to show how sick, demeaning, and downright damaging they are. It also urges the listener not to buy into Freudian excuses too much. No matter how bad a life the abuser might've had (like the patient in the story), it still does not justify their abuse in any way, and it's wrong to put up with it because of that. A very depressing anvil, but a very important one, especially given that it's mostly autobiographical.
Some patients can't be saved, but that burden's not on you
Don't ever let anyone tell you you deserve that