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10 Songs Inspired By George Orwell’s 1984

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four has inspired our political-science lexicon by popularizing terms such as “big brother,” “doublespeak” or “thought police” to describe our governments and its policies. His novel, which was published in 1949, has also inspired dozens of musical artists’ lyrics.

For example, in 2009 the English band Muse wrote the album the Resistance based on Orwell’s book.

“When I started to feel this was going to be an influence on the album, I started to do some research,” guitarist and singer Matt Bellamy said at the time. “I reread the George Orwell book 1984 and was touched by the love story. It was tragic.

“The lyrics of the song Resistance are very influenced by this love story.” (This song did not make the list.)

Before Muse’s Orwellian-inspired album, the glam-rock singer David Bowie paid his respects to the dystopian novel. Bowie’s album Diamond Dogs, released in 1974, was originally suppose to be a Broadway musical based on the classic book. But Orwell’s widow Sonia Orwell denied the singer the book rights for his project; halting Bowie’s ambition to conduct an 1984-inspired musical. The album does include songs directly referencing the apocalyptical book such as Big Brother, though. 

“Mrs Orwell refused to let us have the rights, point blank,” Bowie complained, according to the Man Who Sold the World a book by Peter Doggett.”For a person who married a socialist with communist leanings, she was the biggest upper-class snob I’ve ever met in my life. ‘Good heavens, put it to music?’ It really was like that.”

But between Bowie’s and Muse’s Orwell-influenced albums, rock bands such as Incubus, the Clash and the Dead Kennedys also borrowed passages from Orwell’s nightmarish novel.

Here’s the top-10 Orwellian-influenced songs.

10. Irresponsible Hate Anthem – Marilyn Manson

9. Spies – Coldplay

8. Citizen Erased – Muse

7. Talk Shows on Mute – Incubus

6. California Uber Alles – Dead Kennedys

5. 1977 – The Clash

4. Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever – Bad Religion

3. Testify – Rage Against the Machine

2. 2+2=5 – Radiohead

1. 1984 – David Bowie



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