During a decidedly unpatriotic headlining set at the Coachella festival on Sunday, a reunited Rage Against the Machine called for all Bush administration officials to be "hung and tried and shot" (in that order). For Fox News and the Drudge Report, it was just another manifestation of nu metal's well-publicized liberal agenda. But for the head-banging, flag-desecrating RATM fans, it was too little too late: Before this past weekend, Rage had been on hiatus since disbanding in October of 2000, so this was their first public comment on the presidency of George W. Bush.
No one can accuse the band of blaming America first — even Toby Keith beat them to it in January, when he claimed he'd never supported the invasion of Iraq — and they definitely won't be the last: New albums by Björk, Nine Inch Nails, and Rufus Wainwright all take political stances that are at least three years overdue. After the jump, we ask what took them so long.
Who: Rage Against the Machine
What's their beef? In this video clip of Sunday's outburst, RATM mouthpiece Zack de la Rocha criticizes the war in Iraq and compares Bush to a Nazi war criminal — all while Tom Morello noodles treasonously on his Telecaster.
Why so late? For the past few years, three quarters of the band were busy making jock-rock jams with Chris Cornell in Audioslave while De la Rocha dropped off the face of the earth completely.
Why they (probably) hate America: An oft-overlooked provision of the Patriot Act mandates a three-day waiting period before a machine can legally be raged against.
What's her beef? On Volta's "Declare Independence," over a beat that sounds like a jammed printer, Björk commands listeners to "start your own currency," "make your own stamp," and "raise your flag. … damn colonists, ignore their patronizing."
Why so late? Björk's last record Medulla (2004), which was recorded using only human voices, actually included a reference to "the Bushes and the Osamas," but everyone knows it's impossible to take a hard-line political stance while singing a cappella. This is why Bobby McFerrin's song about the 9/11 conspiracy never got any airplay.
Why she (probably) hates America: The Department of Motor Vehicles' outrageous non-allowance of umlauts on vanity license plates.
Who: Rufus Wainwright
What's his beef? On "Going to a Town," the first single from his upcoming Release the Stars, Wainwright sings, "Do you really think you go to hell for having loved? … I'm so tired of you, America."
Why so late? Wainwright spent the better part of Bush's first term battling a crystal-meth addiction, going to rehab, and indulging his operatic side on 2003's Want One and 2004's Want Two.
Why he (probably) hates America: No tax-exempt status for being the "Gay Messiah."
Who: Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor
What's his beef? NIN's just-released Year Zero, a concept album, imagines a future so irreversibly screwed up by conservative policy that not even Barack Obama can save it: Earth is devastated by global warming, nuclear war, and synthesizers.
Why so late? 2005's With Teeth primarily addressed Reznor's substance-abuse problems with industrial guitars and disco beats.
Why he (probably) hates America: The Supremacy Clause in Article VI of the United States Constitution, which requires state judges to defer to Federal Statutes and U.S. treaties in the event that they should conflict with any state law. Trent is huge on this. —Lane Brown