“Burn the House Down” is an empowering pop song that highlights the political climate in America, abuse of power by those figures in charge, and the power of the people, especially younger generations. Through the unique and distinguished instrument choices and beat, like the use of the trumpets, to the impact of the lyrics, and the overall delivery of the song, you get a song that is not afraid to call out those in power and to inspire everyone else to take the power back. There are direct references from the lyrics to those power systems, referring to it as “the house” and in lyrics like, “you’re only serving lies, you’ve got something to hide,” and “But I’m in a room full of entertainers and thieves.” And then there are direct references that empower people, especially younger generations, to take the power back and to start changing the way those power systems are dealing with certain issues in the country. Lyrics directed at these people include, “Every stranger from Twitter is gonna burn this down,” “We gon’ burn the whole house down,” and “Watch me stand in line.” AJR even mentions the issue of many people, including themselves, who will turn a blind eye to the reality of the situations that are being experienced in the country and will just go along with how the country is being run and how decisions are being made even if they know they are the wrong ones. They start the song addressing this ignorance with “Used to keep it cool, used to be a fool,” and “I could hit refresh and forget.” As the song goes on, they even hint on the manipulation of the power systems and the influence they have over what media is released and what people with platforms can talk about, in the lyrics “If I write a song, preaching what is wrong, will they let me sing on tv?” With the powerful music elements and the powerful lyrics, the song embodies the whole message of power and empowerment that they are trying to instill into who listens to it, and their delivery of the song only adds to this strength and confidence. Their voices are strong and loud as they sing throughout the song, making it clear the message they are trying to get across.


Lineages to “Burn the House Down”


Machine by Imagine Dragons


Machine by Imagine Dragons reminds me of the same issue of falling under the control of our current power systems in the country. The song is not only strong in lyrics like Burn the House Down, but it also has a very distinguishable use of instruments and beat that makes the song stand out: the clapping, drums, electric guitar, chains. The music is loud and strong, and keeps a consistent beat throughout the whole thing. Lyrics that remind me of those in Burn the House Down include, “All my life I’ve been sitting at the table, watching them kids, they’re living in a fable… but now its about time to raise up and petition,” “When you gonna see I’m not a part of your machine,” “I’m not scared of what you’re gonna tell me,” ending with “I am the machine.” The lyrics are a clear defiance of those in power now and is a clear message that is giving the power back to the people. Similar to Burn the House Down, Imagine Dragons is also consistently strong in their delivery, literally raising their voices during the song, like they are yelling at these political institutions. The song instills confidence and power into those listening, calling them to stand together and create change, and to resist and defy those currently in charge of the country.


Troubled Times by Green Day


Troubled Times by Green Day is a song that is known as the American Idiot of millennials. The song, as clear by the title, is about living in “troubled times,” times of political unrest and injustices. Although I would say the music is not as upbeat and pumped up as Burn the House Down and Machine, it still relays a similar message, especially through the lyrics. Some lyrics that remind me of Burn the House Down’s lyrics include, “We live in troubled times,” “What good is love and peace on Earth when it’s exclusive,” “some things we’ll never overcome if we don’t seek it.” The song is addressing the idea that times won’t change or things don’t matter unless people start acting on creating change, and I think it highlights similar themes and ideas as my chosen song for the podcast. The lyric video for the song is also extremely powerful, addressing so many different injustices that have been faced and we are still facing in this country, including the Trump era, racism, housing inequality, islamphobia, etc.


Fight Song by Rachel Platten


Fight song is a song of empowerment that, although was not initially written with intentions of the world to hear it, relates very strongly to the idea of power to the people. Although it was written in 2015, and was written more as a way for Platten to instill strength and power in herself, I do think that it runs parallel to Burn the House Down. Similar to AJR, Platen is powerful in her delivery, her voice is strong and confident. Her lyrics highlight the theme of each person having their own power and having voices and platforms to make a difference. “I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.” “Can you hear my voice this time?” “This is my fight song, take back my life song,”  “My power’s turned on, starting right now I’ll be strong,” “But there’s a fire burning in my bones.” To me the song relates well to fighting the power and taking the power back. Even if the song was not originally written with political intentions, I do believe it has become more of a political anthem, and people can interpret the song to be about the same sort of empowerment Burn the House Down is. The song instills the feeling of self confidence, the idea that each singular person has the power to make a difference and to have a voice and a decision on what happens in the world.