I'm not sure activism today is quite the same or as strong as it used to be. Most stars today scream publicity stunt when they try to be active, at least to me, and very few seem to follow through on protests or on spreading their concerns in interviews and the such. Lady Gaga actually really stands out to me because she does those things that echo what the 60s and the 70s were about and she walks the walk instead of just talking a lot about issues. I like a star who is willing to go out and march and go rallies to convince people about the issues near to their heart and she's done a lot to help push g.ay issues to the forefront in a time when many people would rather fight GLBT rights. I'm hoping that in the future she'll turn her attention to transgender rights more since I feel like its an area that gets ignored a lot.
In contrast though to me is Green Day. Maybe they've done protests and I'm unaware, but they go out there and pose now as this political band and I've never once actually seen them do anything beyond whine a bit in their songs about war. If they want to claim the title of activist, then they should d.amn well be out there protesting this war. I don't like groups that think they can ride on political problems without going out there and proving they really care about the issues. I suppose they bother me more than other groups because this is an image to them. When the pop punk image stopped working, suddenly they came out again as political activists and my eyes just rolled.
On a side note, I think Rage Against the Machine does some really great political music. Totally a group that really embraces not only doing it on the side, but also incorporating it into their music (Political views and activism of Rage Against the Machine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
). A little sample: ‪Rage Against The Machine-Bullet in your head‬‏ - YouTube
Slight side track, what about groups that aren't political activists, but use their music to comment on politics and society? I think of Rammstein immediately because they are the group my mind has been jumping to lately and they do this a lot. For example: ‪Rammstein - Amerika‬‏ - YouTube
A comment on commercialism and also how in many countries their culture has been basically traded in for being more American. I think there is a lot to be said about how thought provoking songs like this can be, which is something groups like Green Day have failed to grasp by embracing political commentary as an image.
If anything, I've just established that I think there are categories of political music and activism:
Artists who are politically active in their private lives, but not in their music.
Artists who use their music to comment on politics and societal problems, but are not politically active.
Artists who both write it into their music and are active.
Artists who use political activism as an image.