Paramore’s “The News” (2023) is not the first protest song of its kind. Many different artists and bands have also formerly written songs relating to the news, television, and mass media. I have found three rock songs released prior to “The News” that have similar perspectives, while providing their own opinions on the subject.

Green Day – “American Idiot” (2004)

One of the most notable media-protesting song is Greenday’s “American Idiot.The song was released in 2004 as a part of the punk rock band’s seventh studio album, also titled American Idiot.

In an 2022 article from the American Songwriter magazine, it discusses the state of the world at the time the song was written and released. America was only months into the Iraq War, and the media coverage of the event overseas had become quite overbearing and even deceptive. According to the author, the band’s lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong, had openly detested the war and the ways in which it was broadcasted on the news across the nation. He exemplifies his anger in a few verses of the song:

Don’t wanna be an American idiot / Don’t want a nation under the new media / And can you hear the sound of hysteria? / The subliminal mindfuck America

Don’t wanna be an American idiot / One nation controlled by the media / Information age of hysteria / Calling out to idiot America

This Green Day song definitely conveys a more hostile message of not just mass media, but the American government as a whole. “American Idiot” also still proves to be relevant today, almost two decades after its initial release, as Armstrong has referenced the song on social media while encouraging voters to “wake up and vote.”

Incubus – “Idiot Box” (1997)

An earlier song released with a similar message is the 1997 rock song “Idiot Box” by Incubus.

This song provides a critique of television similar to to “The News.” Both feature lyrics that question the content of television, and the need to “turn off,” or in the lyrics of this song, “rid myself of this idiot box.”

TV, what do I need? Tell me who to believe? / What’s the use of autonomy when button does it all? / TV, what did I see? Tell me who should I be

Let me see past the fatuous knocks / I’ve got to rid myself of this idiot box

The song questions the overall purpose of the television, and calls out the fantasies and facades commonly delivered to consumers of media through TV.

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention – “I’m the Slime” (1973)

The final song of this lineage is “I’m the Slime” by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. This song was released in 1973 and presents a more graphic take on protest against television and the media.

“I’m the Slime” features many disturbing lines that describe how the television functions as a source of mass communication and the effects it can have on consumers:

I’m a tool of the government / and industry too / I am destined to rule / and regulate you 

I may be vile and pernicious / But you can’t look away / I make you think I’m delicious / With the stuff that I say / I’m the best you can get / Have you guessed me, yet? / I’m the slime oozin’ out from your TV set

You will obey me while I lead you / And eat the garbage that I feed you / Until the day that we don’t need you / Don’t go for help, no one will heed you / Your mind is totally controlled / It has been stuffed into my mold / And you will do as you are told / Until the rights to you are sold

The songs lyrics, albeit rather gross and extremely dramatized, do convey a very strong message about television. This song was particularly interesting to listen to because, in my opinion, it made predictions about the future of television that may have been an attempt to scare listeners from watching TV. Overall, this song creates a very grotesque and uncomfortable perspective of television for listeners.


There were many different messages being delivered by each of the four songs. However, some common themes I connected between the songs heavily related to distrusting the media and media manipulation, along with the effects of TV consumerism that have a “brainwashing” effect on viewers. This can be seen in many verses of each song, and primarily relates back to the music video for Paramore’s “The News,” which will be discussed at a later point.