“Masonic lockdown – in YOUR hometown”: Covid-denying ‘protest’ songs ranked from shit to shittest

Every era is defined by the songs that seek to make a political statement. Whether it’s the Sex Pistols hitting an invisible number one with ‘God Save The Queen’, or the Red Wedge heroics of the Thatcher era, musicians have long seen themselves as standard bearers for alternative thinkers. Voices of the voiceless, saying what the rest of the world needs to hear.

Except sometimes, people get angry for stupid reasons.

In a world ravaged by poverty, inequality and some of the most divisive governments in recent memory, there sits a brigade of rich, ageing musicians for whom the greatest injustice is the fact that pubs are shut. They cannot stand wearing a mask when they nip to the shops and they absolutely have no time for their tours being cancelled.

The heart bleeds.

2020 has been a difficult year for most people; but while most of us learn to adapt, those in society who never learned to accept change have turned to protest. Nobody is pretending that the UK government has got their response to the pandemic right, but that is not the argument of these privileged old bastards. Nor is the very real mental toll of lockdown any more than a convenient point-scoring exercise for the people in question.

Debates as to the relative merits of the argument aside, one indisputable fact remains: every lockdown ‘protest’ song released is abject shite, without any exceptions. While you ponder why this might be, here is a handy list of the worst offenders, ranked from least to most terrible. You can even listen to the songs, if you really want to do that to yourself.

5. Mad Professor – Covid Illusion

Dub legend Mad Professor kicks off our list, ranking as officially the least shit of the anti-lockdown offerings for precisely the same reason that this song is such a perplexing statement:

It’s a fucking instrumental.

That’s right, the track – a perfectly serviceable offering – is in no way related to the pandemic but for its title, which begs the question…why? Mr. Professor (Professor Professor?) could have got away with dropping this tune under near enough any other available title, without raising any sort of question as to his beliefs surrounding wearing masks on the tram. Therefore, while this song cannot be regarded as the shittest ‘truther’ offering due to its lack of cringe-inducing lyrics or lack of subtlety, it comes number 1 with distinction for making absolutely no sense whatsoever. What did you expect from a man literally called Mad Professor?

4. Van Morrison – ‘No More Lockdown’, ‘As I Walked Out’, and so on…

Really, catastrophically hard to know where to start with this one.

Van ‘The Man’ (inverted commas an absolute must) did not just put out a bumper single about how he has to wear a mask in Waitrose. He wrote an entire bloody album’s worth of content – and whatever you’re imagining, it’s exactly like that. In fact, the predictability of Van’s delivery is the only reason these songs haven’t ranked higher on this list. If you weren’t listening to the lyrics, this would pass for any of Morrison’s usual waffle; more crucially, his languid delivery renders many of the lyrics unintelligible, thank God.

Lead single ‘No More Lockdown’ is a mantra-meets-tantrum, repeating…yep, you guessed it, “no more lockdown”, with the usual missives about not being told what to do by Them (no, not his former bandmates). Follow-up ‘As I Walked Out’ abandons any attempt at lyricism and amounts to unedited, drunk ranting from a man who sounds more confused than angry about it all. Maybe someone needs to explain the situation in monosyllabic words. Slowly.

The only sure thing is that if the following is classed as songwriting, I have heard some bloody fine balladry in the pubs of Salford:

Well, on the government website, on the 21st of March, 2020, it said Covid was no longer high risk.

Then two days later, they put us on lockdown.

Then why are we not being told the truth?

Van Morrison, ‘As I Walked Out’

True poetry.

3. Right Said Fred – ‘We’re All Criminals’

Before we get into the nitty gritty of this one, it’s worth pointing out that the categorising of Right Said Fred as ‘less shit’ than the other acts on this list is likely to infuriate ageing rock purists. That being said, it’s nobody’s fault but the artists later on this list that they’ve turned out such festering abominations.

Back to the matter at hand. This only half counts towards the list for two reasons: one being that the single is a reworking of an earlier album track and is only tangentially about the pandemic; second, the Fairbrass brothers have stated on the record that they are not Covid deniers, and just wish to stand up for free speech and against the draconian lockdown that…

Oh, you get the picture. They’re talking bollocks.

The music and lyrics are pedestrian, if not identifiably terrible. Really, ‘We’re All Criminals’ just plays out like any has-beens making a reheated attempt at a political statement; the faux-USSR aesthetic that crops up in the video, the “things used to be better” lament – it’s all there. It is slightly disappointing to see former poster boys for Britain’s LGBT community literally using Daily Mail headlines in a video, but it’s always been said that you go right-wing as you get older and more boring. Yawn.

2: Eric Clapton – ‘Stand and Deliver’

If there’s a message you really want to get out there, a cause that the world needs to sit up and listen to, what you really need is a frontman with integrity. Someone who stands up for the courage of their convictions, and whose views are respected by all.

Someone like Eric “Enoch Was Right” Clapton, perhaps?

Well done Van. Yes, ‘The Man’ is back in this list, having penned another so-called protest anthem, this time for boring old bastard Eric “I’m Into Racism” Clapton to turn his ever-relevant and painfully slow hand to. It’s worth saying here, the music is not that offensive. Soul-crushingly dull? Yes. Clapton should definitely be able to give us more than four chords at this point, and Van ‘The Man’ (inverted commas still a must) certainly should be able to put across his godawful point in more nuanced language (“Do you want to be a free man / Or do you want to be a slave” repeated ad nauseum). For two highly-rated (if supremely overrated) industry stalwarts, it is perhaps surprising that they can’t package their neurotic polemic in a more interesting fashion. It’s almost as if fixation on conspiracy theories is a sign that your brain has turned to mashed swede or something.

For bonus insight into this particular track, check out the absolute fucking state of the music video.

1: Ian Brown – ‘Little Seed Big Tree’

Jesus Christ, this is bad.

Like, even if the message checked out, you’d have serious questions to ask. In a parallel universe where this song was a heartfelt tribute to the hard work of our NHS workers during the pandemic, you would still be forgiven for saying it is total and utter shite. In any world, it unquestionably is shite. On every single imaginable level, and some levels as yet inconceivable.

The message – the tortured, stoned sixth-form poetry of it all – is the most obvious target for our righteous ire here. The subtlety, or lack thereof, puts every other paranoid old gimmer’s lockdown anthems to shame. It is such a taxing listen, from the way every rhyme is done to death (“Masonic lockdown / In your hometown / Masonic lockdown / Can you hear me now”) to the glaring lack of nuance, the way “global orders” is at one point rhymed with “new world order”…it goes on and on.

Literally. It’s five fucking minutes long.

As we noted at the time of release, the sonic profile of this song is terrible enough to rival the lyrical content. The production is negligible and the guitar sounds like a 14-year-old just figured out you can make more noise by plugging your guitar into that little amplifier that came in the box from Argos.

Paranoid, ‘they’re-out-to-get-us’ lyricism is nothing new from the Monkey Man; but you can accept it if the tunes are as good as anything off his first album. As painful as it is for a Mancunian to say this, Ian Brown has delivered not only the worst song of the pandemic, but one of the worst singles by a major artist in the history of indie rock.

The only silver lining to Brown’s descent into such banal incoherence is the series of singles in which Mclusky frontman Andy Falkous performs ‘covers’ of the Stone Roses man’s most ludicrous tweets. Almost makes the bullshit worth it.