Burn the House Down, written by AJR, was released in 2018. AJR was asked by Morgan Spurlock to write a theme song for his movie, “Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken.” They not only released the song for the film, but also as a way to address the current political climate at the time in our country. AJR explained how the song was used for both purposes, explaining that “We wanted to create a song that captured that passion. If enough underdogs band together, real change can happen, and we wanted to help inspire that change in ‘Burn the House Down.”

In 2018 and during the time leading up to the release of this song, there was a lot of political unrest and we were seeing a lot of different issues being brought to light. In 2018 in the United States, we were experiencing Trump’s term as President. The country was witnessing injustices of all sorts coming forward during this time and under his presidency, including the immigration and refugee crisis and Trump’s intolerance towards undocumented citizens and refugee families. The country was in the height of the #metoo movement, bringing to light sexual abuse and injustice taking place in positions and institutions of power, especially with the Brett Kavanaugh case. And we were beginning to see an increase in school shootings and the beginning of the gun violence epidemic in our country. In 2018 alone, there were 24 school shootings. In February of 2018, the country experienced the Stoneman Douglas Highschool Shooting that killed 17 people, which led to the creation of the March of Our Lives: a student led demonstration and protest in support of gun control legislation. AJR’s song, Burn the House Down, ended up becoming the anthem for this movement at the time. Because of all of the civil unrest our country was facing, the song came at a very important time, being able to be related to any of these issues people were facing. The song took a strong political stance on giving power back to the people, especially young people, when fighting any injustice, recognizing the importance and strength every person has in influencing government legislation and decision, especially since they are the ones affected by these decisions and lack of justice. Band member Ryan Met said, “There’s a tangible power that our generation now has, making real political change in the world.” (Honeycutt, 2018).

Pop music is often identified as music that has a tempo or beat that is upbeat and can be danced to. AJR, being an Indie Pop band, created Burn the House Down as an upbeat tempo track that was able to use those elements of Pop in favor of solidifying their message. They were able to use the energeticness of pop music in order to create that inspiring feeling of strength to empower younger generations to actually go out and make the change they have the power of creating. Billboard music says the song, “features an energetic arrangement of horns that illuminate the hard hitting lyrics.” (Honeycutt, 2018). Through the use of the trumpets, the energetic beat and repetitiveness that comes with pop songs, Burn the House Down creates a feeling of excitement that pumps people up and pairs well with their inspiring and powerful lyrics, that leaves people with the power and confidence they need to go make change.

Although the music itself is strong and energetic, the lyrics are the same way, tying it all together to create a really powerful message. In the first and second verse, AJR focuses on the internal debate on keeping it light when it comes to what they sing about and turning the other way when they see what is going on in the worlds verses doing what would be right even if it isn’t received well. “Watch it on the news, Whatcha gonna do? I could hit refresh and forget,” and “Should I keep it light? Is that right?” The chorus then goes into talking about restoring the power back to the people, with the reference “we  gon’ burn the whole house down,” then refers to those institutions and people in power saying “you’re only serving lies, you’ve got something to hide.” The bridge of the song really illuminates the power of the younger generation especially having social media as a platform to use their voice. The debate continues with “Should I hang my head low? Should I bite my tongue? Or should I march with every stranger from Twitter to get shit done?” By the second part of the bridge, they reach a sense of clarity explaining how they used to leave the issues unaddressed but they realize the power and responsibility each individual has in making change ending the bridge with, “Every stranger from Twitter is gonna burn this down.” With this specific lyric they are recognizing the power social media and people have in making real political change and recreating the power dynamic and reassigning decisions back to the people instead of those abusing their power.