Rebellions are born to give people a voice and fight against oppression and unjust status quo. They can be executed in many ways, from protests to standing firm in your individuality.
We have rounded up a list of songs that center on the good fight against societal norms, oppressive governments, inequalities, and even wars. These tracks are testimonies of those who’re suffering and a rallying cry to us to lend support to them.
Each of these songs have impacted our collective consciousness and will surely inspire you too.
The Best Songs About Rebellion
“Rebel Rebel” – David Bowie
Bowie’s glam rock anthem starts out strong with a distinctive guitar riff that has made it a huge concert favorite today.
The song also marked his farewell to the glam rock movement before transitioning into the funk stage of his career.
This track tells the story of Bowie’s personal rebellion against societal norms and expectations as he was struggling with his sexuality that time.
With stomping beats, magnificent riffs, and irresistible hook, it’s a show-stopping number that will certainly rock any crowd.
“Killing in the Name” – Rage Against the Machine
This 1991 protest song was an outcry against police brutality suffered by Rodney King and the following Los Angeles riots in 1992.
Featuring distorted guitar riffs and gritty vocals, it bears a powerful anti-establishment message that requires you to shout and scream your lungs out.
“Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” – Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd takes a jab at the British education system in this somber disco-infused number.
The song depicts the school as a draconian site with abusive teachers and stringent rules.
This catchy track caused a controversy in the UK upon release, yet it ended up topping charts in at least six other countries.
“Standing in the Way of Control” – Gossip
This song isn’t just catchy, it’s also a rallying cry of unity, liberation, and empowerment.
The pulsating instrumentals and passionate vocals give this song an upbeat, danceable quality.
“Freedom” – Beyonce ft. Kendrick Lamar
Beyonce’s collaboration with Kendrick Lamar brings us an empowering anthem on the struggles of African-American women and their community as a whole.
“Freedom” is one of Beyonce’s most strikingly powerful tracks that shed light on injustice and oppression.
With synthetic organs, thumping drum beats, and straightforward lyrics, it’s a song that calls us to stand in solidarity.
“Thoughts and Prayers” – Drive-By Truckers
Fighting for our rights often requires us to be physically at the forefront.
“Thoughts and Prayers” is a country-infused number that criticizes the lack of action involving wars and mass shooting incidents.
The song is accompanied by a guitar-driven tune, making it pretty easy to follow.
“What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye
Though it was released in 1971 at the height of social unrest in the US, it’s still relevant to the issues we currently face.
The song deals with themes of police brutality, violence, and wars.
Rather than the typical aggressive protest song, Gaye’s track is a gentle and soulful number that encourages us to strive for positive change.
“The Anthem” – Good Charlotte
Some rebellions are small and personal, as the band Good Charlotte demonstrates in this upbeat rock song.
“The Anthem” is all about defying authority and societal expectations to live the way you desire.
With a high-charged rhythm and energetic chorus, it’s a liberating track that’s relatable to everyone out there.
“Get Up Stand Up” – Bob Marley and the Wailers
Bob Marley’s 1973 classic track was written based on the social and political unrest in Jamaica.
The song is as direct as it gets, it calls everyone to stand up for their rights and fight against oppressive powers.
This single has left such a great impact that it was adopted as the official anthem by the Amnesty International, a non-profit human rights organization.
“My Generation” – The Who
Since its release in 1965, “My Generation” is recognized as the band’s signature hit and hailed as a classic rock anthem.
The song revolves around youthful rebellion and defiance against the older generations.
This track was considerably distinct in the 1960s not only for its use of powerful drums and guitar but also for the frustrated stutters in the vocals part.
It’s a great, one-of-a-kind song that you can experiment, scream, and dance around with.
“American Idiot” – Green Day
Green Day presents us with a feisty punk-rock track about finding your own individuality in the midst of a time of control and injustice.
The song was based on events in 2004, with biased mass media platforms covering the presidential campaigns.
Along with its highly political message, it’s accompanied by a high-energy melody and fast-paced vocals that make you feel powerful.
“Imagine” – John Lennon
Sometimes, wanting peace and harmony is a rebellion in itself, an antithesis to the greed and gluttony of authorities.
Lennon’s “Imagine” was a gentle yet formidable composition against the call to arms. It encouraged everyone to desire for a world of hope and solidarity without borders.
It’s one of the most enduring songs of all time that it has been used at many events and tons of artists have covered it.
“War” – Edwin Starr
This song sets a funky yet poignant tone as a protest song against the Vietnam War.
Aside from its upbeat rhythm, it has an equally straightforward message about favoring peace over warfare.
The track remains one of the most popular protest songs ever and is still used by many activists today.
“God Save the Queen” – Sex Pistols
Released in 1977, “God Save the Queen” represented the band’s criticism of the British monarchy and the social upheaval in Britain that time.
With aggressive instrumentation, angry vocals, and a snarky tune, it became an empowering anthem for those who were unhappy with the status quo.
The song has cemented itself as an important part of British history and is even played at several public events.
“Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2
“Sunday Bloody Sunday” details the events of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the band’s condemnation of violence.
This post-punk composition has a melancholic feel to it, featuring harsh guitars, smooth harmonies, and militaristic drumbeat.
The song ended up becoming successful and is considered one of U2’s most iconic tracks.
“Fight the Power” – Public Enemy
“Fight the Power” was originally composed for the 1989 film Do the Right Thing.
However, it soon grew into an anthem for the African-American community as the lyrics called for them to fight for their rights.
The song is also known as one of the most influential hip-hop singles and would go on to inspire many to retaliate against oppression.
“Bad Reputation” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
If you’re looking for a song that makes you want to rebel and dance, Joan Jett’s punk-rock hit is the way to go!
Lyrically, it’s about living on your own terms without caring about what others think of you.
This track has been featured in many popular films and shows like Shrek, Freaks and Geeks and Jessica Jones.
“Alright” – Kendrick Lamar
“Alright” encapsulates Lamar’s frustration and hope regarding the injustice suffered by the black community, especially with police brutality, poverty, and violence.
Along with these themes, the track also provides encouragement and hope in the belief that standing together as one will eventually lead to a better outcome.
“The Message” – Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
This catchy track combines elements of disco, funk, and electro to bring our attention to inner-city poverty.
It’s an amazing song that dives deep into the shackles of social conformity and the difficulties in trying to change your life.
With an upbeat tune, it’s a timeless track that inspires people and gets them to dance at the same time.
“For What It’s Worth” – Buffalo Springfield
Published in 1967, this folksy ballad focuses on anti-war sentiments and counterculture protests occurring at that period.
The song has a mellow vibe despite its political themes, featuring a soft rhythm and vocals.
It has become a well-known protest song and was covered by many popular artists like Cher, Ozzy Osbourne, and Rush.
“Born in the U.S.A.” – Bruce Springsteen
“Born in the U.S.A.” is one of Springsteen’s iconic singles and is a certified rock classic.
Lyrically, it describes the hardships Vietnam War veterans go through after returning from the war.
It’s a somber hit filled with searing criticism of the government at the time, bringing awareness to the consequences of war.
“Fortunate Son” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Fortunate Son” is another well-known protest track against the Vietnam War.
With a snarling rock ‘n’ roll tune and upbeat vocals, this song is just as fun as it is introspective.
The track left a great impact that it has been used in tons of popular media, from films to video games.
“Rebellion” – Linkin Park ft. Daron Malakian
Linkin Park collaborates with System of a Down’s Malakian to focus on political instability in this 2014 metal track.
It’s a fast-paced song with a serious edge, speedy drum beats, and blistering guitar riffs that make you wanna rock out hard.