Israeli Hip-hop Band Decides to Make Some Noise as Elections Silently Loom

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With an election season more noteworthy for its freakish weather reports than its politics, and with a dormant Israeli public seemingly resigned to a right-wing victory in the polls, Israel's foremost hip-hop collective is looking to make some noise.

In a new single released on Sunday, "A Complaint against Israel's Parties," revealed less than two weeks before the January 22 Election Day, Jerusalem's popular Hadag Nachash puts its trademark musical style on lyrics written 13 years ago by legendary singer-songwriter Meir Ariel.

Ariel, Israel's version of a cross between Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, reportedly wrote the lyrics following that year's elections, which saw the victory of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Ariel died later that year.

In "A Complaint against Israel's Parties," Ariel writes that he has "had it up to here with Israel's political parties," going on to bemoan politicians' self-interested policies, who are interested only in power and in dividing the people.

Elsewhere in the song, Ariel goes on to call Israeli parties "prostitutes of power receiving pay", adding that, without their salaries, they wouldn't mind if "the ship crashes against the white iceberg."

In in its final verse, the song's lyrics accuse rival politicians for "canceling each other with their resistance," while "approving each other's pay increases."

Driving in Ariel's message of frustration, Hadag Nachash use ska-laden verses – reminiscent of another set of political musicians, The Clash – with a chorus repeating the words "had it up to here" that seems to ridicule the musical style of a stereotypical elections jingle.

The song is the first single from the band's upcoming seventh album, "Awakening," due to be released later this year.

Hadag Nachash, which formed in Jerusalem in the mid-nineties, is no stranger to political messages, a fact that makes the band something of a socially conscious anomaly in Israel's generally feel-good music scene.

Famously, the band teamed up with noted Israeli author David Grossman in 2004 in composing "The Sticker Song," which was made up entirely of lines and phrases found on the endless array of political bumper stickers found all over Israel.

Hadag Nachash.Credit: Yossi Tzveker