War, huh! Good god, yall, what is it good for? A whole lot of free MP3s, is what. Thanks to the Internet and studio technology

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Countin' Down the Hits

A guide to the pop songs inspired by Operation Iraqi Freedom.

War, huh! Good god, yall, what is it good for? A whole lot of free MP3s, is what. Thanks to the Internet and studio technology in general, some big-time artistsincluding a few you havent heard from in a whileare able to set their political opinions to music and get them out to the public quicker than you can say Al-Jazeera. Whether any of them will go on to join the ranks of great ones, from Marvin Gayes Whats Going On through the Clashs The Call Up (and roughly half of Bob Dylans catalog), only time will tell. Until then, allow us to break down the big ones for you.

Beastie Boys

World Gone Mad

Pro- or anti-war?: A to the N to the T to the . . . oh, never mind.

Artist impetus: Being together, writing, and recording, we felt it would be irresponsible not to address whats going on in the world while the events are still current. It didnt make sense to us to wait until the entire record was finished to release this song.

Sounds like: Basement-level production values, with your community-college older brother on the mike and his best friend rockin the Casio.

Best/worst lyric: Now dont get us wrong cuz we love America/But thats no reason to get hysterica/Theyre layin on the syrup thick/We aint waffles, we aint havin it.

Danceability rating (1 to 10): 3. The Fat Albert wiggle cant even save this.

War, huh! Good god, yall, what is it good for? A whole lot of free MP3s, is what. Thanks to the Internet and studio technology in general, some big-time artistsincluding a few you havent heard from in a whileare able to set their political opinions to music and get them out to the public quicker than you can say 'Al-Jazeera.'

Clint Black

I Raq and Roll

Pro- or anti-war?: Pro.

Artist impetus: He hasnt explicitly said what led him to create the song, but the country star is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Clint Black Families of the Fallen Soldiers fund.

Sounds like: Jingo Bell Rock Nashville-style.

Best/worst lyric: I raq, I rack em and I roll/Im back and Im a high-tech GI Joe/Ive got infrared, Ive got GPS and Ive got that good old-fashioned lead/Theres no price too high for freedom/So be careful where you tread.

Danceability rating: 6. A little slow, but you could still tip your hat to it.

Green Day

Life During Wartime

Pro- or anti-war?: Thoughtfully anti.

Artist impetus: The band is strongly urging George W. Bush to rethink his plans for military invasion.

Sounds like: Acoustic, sensitive Billy Joe, ࠬa Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).

Best/worst lyric: A call to action and a reaction, taking our lives into our own hands/Instead of sitting around talking about the same old shitty bands/ But war is going on right now, and Im not doing anything about it/Without a crowd, Im not so loud.

Danceability rating: 4. Like we said, acoustic. But not totally hopeless.

Toby Keith

Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue

Pro- or anti-war?: Pretty pro, yall.

Artist impetus: According to his Web site, Toby has been blown away by the incredible response he received from the military and their families for his songs. He wanted them to know how much he appreciates their efforts and supports them.

Sounds like: Smooth, radio-friendly new-country from a Higher Moral Place.

Best/worst lyric: Now this nation that I love has fallen under attack/A mighty sucker punch came flying in from somewhere in the back/Soon as we could see clearly through our big black eye/Man, we lit up your world like the Fourth of July.

Danceability rating: 6. OK for some low-impact two-stepping.

Lenny Kravitz

(with Iraqi pop star Kazem Al Sahir) We Want Peace

Pro- or anti-war?: This is Let Love Rule Lennywhat do you think?

Artist impetus: This song for me is about more than Iraq. It is about our role as people in the world and that we all should cherish freedom and peace.

Sounds like: Pretty much any other up-tempo Kravitz number, with a little extra Middle Eastern flavor on the intro.

Best/worst lyric: We want peace, we want it, yes, we want peace, we want it/We want peace, and we want it fast/Doo doo uhn doo doo doo dooooo.

Danceability rating: 7. A nice funky dance floor bass line, but much too short to really bust a move.

R.E.M.

Final Straw

Pro- or anti-war?: Anti.

Artist impetus: This is the strongest voice we could think of to send out there.

Sounds like: A little bit country, a little bit rock n roll, a lot bit Pete Seeger.

Best/worst lyric: As I raise my head to broadcast my objection/As your latest triumph draws the final straw/Who died and lifted you up to perfection?/And what silenced me is written into law.

Danceability rating: 3. Maybe a very subdued Michael Stipe body spasm or two. Otherwise, just sober head nods.

Zach de la Rocha/DJ Shadow

March of Death

Pro- or anti-war?: Um, anti.

Artist impetus: Artists, be they painters, actors, writers, or musicians, have a responsibility to reflect and interpret the world around them.

Sounds like: Zach is still Raging Against the Machine, but this time with backup turntables.

Best/worst lyric: I wont follow like cattle, Im more like the catalyst/Calm in the midst of battle/Who let the cowboy on the saddle? He dont know a missile from a gavel.

Danceability rating: 7. Excellent for throwing ones neck out of alignment while raging around the living room.

Darryl Worley

Have You Forgotten?

Pro- or anti-war?: Pro; Saddam + Osama = same difference.

Artist impetus: We just had an opportunity to spend some quality time with those men and women over there that lay their life on the line every day so that we can have this lifestyle that we live over here. And I just came back with a realI almost felt like a duty. It was in my heart.

Sounds like: Old-school slide-guitar twang and down-home vocals.

Best/worst lyric: Some say this countrys just out looking for a fight/Well, after 9/11, man, Id have to say thats right/Have you forgotten how it felt that day/To see your homeland under fire and her people blown away?

Danceability rating: 5. Strictly slow dancing.

lgreenblatt@seattleweekly.com

 
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