Your Flag (Is Wack)

Heath Cottengim has created this epic vexillological rap video.  Enjoy.

 

[Hook: Heath Cottengim]
Your flag is wack, your flag is wack, your flag is wack
Belgium just Germany taking a nap
I’d take it all back
If you’d just change the flag
I be on the attack
‘Cause your flag is wack

[Verse 1: Heath Cottengim]
Indonesia and Monaco, one of you has gotta go
How’s the public supposed to know
Who’s who when that shits on the pole
You’re no better Poland, looking
Upside-down like Spiderman
Next time hire a designer
So your flag don’t look so stolen
You may think I’m mad, you may think I’m absurd
But it ain’t my fault Netherlands looks like Luxembourg
So many bad flags I can’t tell them apart
Which one of these is Ireland and
Which one’s Cote d’Ivoire?
I be in the stadium
Watchin’ the game
Chad and Romania
Look exactly the same
You’d be none the wiser
If I asked you to squint
It’s like the designer
Threw out the blueprint
Not tryna to make enemies
Half the Middle East looks Yemeni
Throwing flags out like a referee
Don’t care if it’s a felony
Extortion, genocide, organ shortages, yellow fever
Are not why I take the time to call up every foreign leader
(telephone rings)
Hello, you’ve reached Prime Minister of Australia
Hey Malcolm, how come you still stealin’ from New Zealand?
I mean it. I’ll break these Union Jack’s backs
Like the Bane of flags
I’m not insane, I’m just statin’ the facts
Let’s bring it back for you amnesiacs

[Hook: Heath Cottengim]

Your flag is wack, your flag is wack, your flag is wack
Norway is okay if you can do math (do math)
If you can’t take the flak
Take it off the map
It’s as simple as that
‘Cause your flag is wack
Your flag is wack, your flag is wack, your flag is wack
Greenland pretends to not be an app
Don’t tell me to relax
I’ll watch your country collapse
Nepal gets a pass
But your flag is wack

[Verse 2: Heath Cottengim]
I want flags different, distinct and unique
Think Canada, Panama, Zanzibar and Mozambique, ayy
Wait, Mozambique has an AK?
They’re not so scary, their military’s
Smaller than Notre Dame
Although I enjoy this, let me be open
When bad shit gets hoisted, people get disappointed
Point is this message is essential, so don’t try to avoid it
‘Cause I’ll just keep roasting the globe
’till I hit the ocean (Let’s go!)
Seychelles, looking like I’m about to get my groove on
Qatar, looking like I’m bout to tear a coupon
Kyrgyzstan’s’ll work, but you gotta turn it on first
Look at Antwerp’s too long and it starts to hurt
Don’t expect apology, won’t accept low quality
Just next time respect vexillology
Try to find the strength to face the fact that
Maybe the flag needs to tend the rabbits
I’m probably preaching to the choir
But when it comes to flags I think we can
Raise the bar a little higher
To those who’d fight a redesigner
I’ll leave you looking like the guy in the Benin Empire

[Hook: Heath Cottengim]
Your flag is wack, your flag is wack, your flag is wack
Rather be Martian than live under that
Some flags have class
Others are crap
I’d start from scratch
‘Cause your flag is wack
Your flag is wack, your flag is wack, your flag is wack
Pocatello, what am I lookin’ at?
It shouldn’t have taken a rap
To convince you that
When it comes to flags
Your flag is wack

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World Order: Imperialism

Japanese band World Order is, in their words, “a group creating a unique genre of performing arts through its original musical and physical expression”. (The group’s leader, Genki Sudo, has characterized World Order as “a new-world-order-conspiracy-theory parody group”.) Of their 2013 single Imperialism — from their album Have a Nice Day — they say:

The new single and video IMPERIALISM builds on the group’s mission to prompt reflection contemporary society, working styles, global culture, and images of modern Japan. Provocatively shot in Washington D.C. – against backdrops of American sights like the US Capitol building and Union Station. Spontaneous moments from filming are kept as is for the video – WORLD ORDER’s expressive vision.

Sync Music Japan quotes Sudo:

Usually, when I create my art, I keep in mind the following message: ‘If you change yourself, the world will change as well.’ For this video, I wanted to convey the message: ‘If America changes, the world will change as well.’ I hope everyone across the world enjoys the new song. We Are All One!

The US flag plays a prominent role in two scenes, one at the Marine Corps War Memorial’s sculptural representation of Joe Rosenthal’s famous photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, the other at the Columbus Fountain in front of Union Station.

iwo1
World Order dances at the Marine Corps War Memorial. The sculpture (and photograph) commemorates the World War II battle of Iwo Jima in which 6,821 Americans and over 17,000 Japanese died in 1945.
columbus1
The group dances in front of the Columbus Fountain, a 1912 sculpture by Lorado Taft and Daniel Burnham “to the memory of Christopher Columbus whose high faith and indomitable courage gave to mankind a new world”. The three flag poles represent the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. For the video, the middle flag has been inverted, an international symbol of distress.

The video begins and ends with scenes shot at the  George Washington Masonic National Memorial, which will be familiar to anyone who attended the 24th International Congress of Vexillology, held there in 2011.

 


See also:

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations: Flag

Xavier Rudd is an Australian singer-songwriter who recently brought together musicians from Australia, Germany, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and South Africa to form the band United Nations.  Their reggae song Flag leads off their latest album Nanna.

The video is built around images of white flags — the white flag of peace, not surrender.

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations: Flag. Directed & Produced by Grey Ghost. Director of Photography: Nick Rieve.

Coming with his own designs, his own style, his own awakening
He told me yes he can forgive, but he can never forget it
Weapons always close to hand, for he has seen too much hatred
Only weapon that he chooses is love, universal call now for justice
[Chorus]
And I’ll keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
And I’ll keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
And I’ll keep waving this flag, cover your head, cover your back now
People keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
You know, you know, I said praise Jandamarra and the Bunuba tribe
Building the resistance with strength and pride
Said no to domination of the ancient clans
Protection of his people and his tribal lands
Healing in the tunnel at his mothers right hand
Healing in the tunnel with the spirit of the land
Precedent set for the present day
Time to stand, time to keep waving that flag
Cover my head, cover my back now
[Chorus]
And I’ll keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
People keep on waving this flag and I’ll cover your head, and I’ll cover your back now
People keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
Said people keep on waving this flag
People keep on waving this flag, cover my back now
(keep waving, keep on waving that flag)
Coming with my own designs, feeling strong, feeling able
Community is coming alive, loaded weapons are on the table
[Chorus]
And I’ll keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
People keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
People keep on waving this flag, and I’ll cover your head and I’ll cover your back now
People keep on waving this flag, cover my head, cover my back now
Said people keep on waving this flag
People keep on waving this flag, cover my back now
(keep waving, keep on waving that flag)

Read more: Xavier Rudd & The United Nations – Flag Lyrics | MetroLyrics

xavier

soldier-patches

soldier-saflag

sea-shepherd

women

Xavier Rudd will be performing in Portland on October 20.  For more on white flags in music videos, see our February 2015 post Musical White Flags.

Helly Luv: Revolution

Kurdish performer Helly Luv (Helan Abdulla) shot the music video for her single Revolution in a village near Erbil, Iraq, during fighting between ISIS and the Kurdish peshmerga.  (During the shoot she fired upon ISIS militants herself.)  The video is an oxymoron:  a pacifist plea to “Stop the Violence” that glorifies the anti-ISIS Kurdish armed forces.  It is also full of flags — vexillologists may enjoy playing “name that flag”, especially towards the end of the video.

Here are some shots from the video:

Screenshot 2015-07-18 12.26.25

Screenshot 2015-07-18 12.19.09

Screenshot 2015-07-18 12.24.27

Screenshot 2015-07-18 12.21.22

Screenshot 2015-07-18 12.22.16

Screenshot 2015-07-18 12.15.23

flags

Screenshot 2015-07-18 12.13.11

Screenshot 2015-07-18 12.16.13

Thanks to Vexillology Ireland for the pointer to this video!

Clipboard03

The Most Vexillologically-Sophisticated DJ?

Thanks to Neil Mussett who enthusiastically pointed us to this flag-loving electronic music DJ:  Bassnectar (aka Lorin Ashton).  His logo is the “Bassdrop”:

The Bassdrop symbol.
The Bassdrop symbol.

From The Bassdrop Explained:

“My dear friend who created the word “bassnectar” helped me create the logo. We searched through books of images and icons, and found something similar to the first original design. We messed with it in photoshop and made it more circular (it almost looked like a bad 1970’s airline logo at first!) and I always took it to be kind of my own ‘yin yang’ interpretation, with an open end that flows out endlessly.

Depending on the color/contrast, there is one image that is ugly, looks insectlike, or like claws…it is sharp, cold, almost ruthless…or maybe just creepy. Or maybe just ALIEN and strange.

The flipside imagery is beautiful, circular, curved elegantly, sweeping, almost flowerlike…

It lends itself to inclusion in variants of many different flags (US, state, and city):

From FelixDub09.  Edit of photo from BassnectarOfficial Tumblr feed.
From FelixDub09. Edit of photo on BassnectarOfficial Tumblr feed.
From CTCWAY. Edit of photo on BassnectarOfficial Tumblr feed.
From OG_PANCAKE_HOUSE. On BassnectarOfficial Tumblr feed.
From OG_PANCAKE_HOUSE. Edit of photo on BassnectarOfficial Tumblr feed.
From JesseWillis1. Edit of photo on BassnectarOfficial Tumblr feed.
From JesseWillis1. Edit of photo on BassnectarOfficial Tumblr feed.
From ederms11.  On BassnectarOfficial Tumblr feed.
From ederms11. On BassnectarOfficial Tumblr feed.
From Bzz_Lightyear. On BassnectarOfficial Tumblr feed.
From Bzz_Lightyear. Edit of photo on BassnectarOfficial Tumblr feed.
The crowd at Red Rocks, Colorado, May 2015.  From @Bassnectar Twitter feed.
The crowd at Red Rocks, Colorado, May 2015. From @Bassnectar Twitter feed.

The MTV Flag on the Moon

Mtvmoon

Six years before Andy Warhol made Moonwalk, the creators of MTV went to the same Apollo material to announce their presence to the world on 1 August 1981:

Here’s what they said about their decision to “rip apart” a “holy” image in order to make their point:

i-want-my-mtv
From I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, by Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks (Penguin, 2011), p. 3.

MTV’s parody of the Apollo 11 flag salute lives on.  Each year at the MTV Video Music Awards winners take home a “moonman”:

Mtv_moon_man

For the first MTV generation the image of the MTV flag on the moon resonates as much as if not more than the NASA original, as in this clip from the second episode of Futurama (1999):

See also:

Rihanna: American Oxygen

In Rihanna’s latest music video, the Barbadian immigrant uses imagery of the American flag to unpack its meaning in terms of American dreams and nightmares, ultimately declaring “this is the new America / we are the new America”.  Jake Flanagin in Quartz calls it “a surprisingly powerful statement on immigration” (surprising given Rihanna’s reputation for non-political dance music); more than this, it’s a surprisingly powerful contemporary pop cultural statement about the flag.

Rihanna – American Oxygen. Written by Alex da Kid, Sam Harris, Candice Pillay, and Rihanna. Directed by Darren Craig, Jonathan Craven, and Jeff Nicholas of Uprising Creative.

Breathe out, breathe in
American oxygen
Every breath I breathe
Chasin’ this American Dream
We sweat for a nickel and a dime
Turn it into an empire
Breathe in, this feeling
American, American oxygen

American oxygen
Breathe in, this feeling
American, American Oxygen

Oh say, you see, this is the American Dream
Young girl, hustlin’
On the other side of the ocean
You can be anything at all
In America, America
I say, can’t see
Just close your eyes and breathe

Breathe out, breathe in
American oxygen
Every breath I breathe
Chasin’ this American Dream
We sweat for a nickel and a dime
Turn it into an empire
Breathe in, this feeling
American, American oxygen

American oxygen
Breathe in, this feeling
American, American Oxygen
American oxygen
Breathe in, this feeling
American, American Oxygen

Oh say, you see, this is the American Dream
Young boy, hustlin’
Tryna get the wheels in motion
But he can be anything at all
In America, America
I say, can’t see
Just close your eyes and breathe

Breathe out, breathe in
American oxygen
Every breath I breathe
Chasin’ this American Dream
We sweat for a nickel and a dime
Turn it into an empire
Breathe in, this feeling
American, American oxygen

This is the new America
We are the new America
This is the new America
We are the new America

This is the new America
We are the new America
This is the new America
We are the new America

Breathe out, breathe in
American oxygen
Every breath I breathe
Chasin’ this American Dream
We sweat for a nickel and a dime
Turn it into an empire
Breathe in, this feeling
American, American oxygen

American oxygen
Breathe in, this feeling
American, American Oxygen
American oxygen
Breathe in, this feeling
American, American Oxygen

This is the new America
We are the new America
This is the new America
We are the new America

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Publicity photo for the single.
Publicity photo for the single.

Billy Talent: Red Flag

Happy May Day!

Billy Talent – Red Flag (2006).  Director: Floria Sigismondi.

[Chorus:] Cast off the crutch that kills the pain
The red flag waving never meant the same
The kids of tomorrow don’t need today
When they live in the sins of yesterday

[Repeat chorus]

Well I’ve never seen us act like this
Our only hope is the minds of kids
And they’ll show us a thing or two

Our only weapons are the guns of youth
It’s only time before they tighten the noose
And then the hunt will be on for you

The red flag waving never meant the same, no
The red flag waving never meant the same

[Repeat chorus twice]

Like the smallest bee packs a sting
Like a pawn checkmates a king
We’ll attack at the crack of dawn

Build a ladder if there’s a wall
Don’t be afraid to slip and fall
Speak for yourself or they’ll speak for you

The red flag waving never meant the same, no!
The red flag waving never meant the same, no!

[Repeat chorus twice]

Like a fire
Don’t need water
Like a jury
Needs a liar
Like a riot
Don’t need order
Like a madman
Needs a martyr

We don’t need them
We don’t need them
We don’t need them
We don’t need them
We don’t need them
We don’t need them
We don’t need them
We don’t need them

[Repeat chorus]

Cast off the crutch that kills the pain
The red flag waving never meant the same
The kids of tomorrow don’t need today
When they live in the sins of yesterday (we don’t need them, we don’t need them)

Cast off the crutch that kills the pain (we don’t need them, we don’t need them)
The red flag waving never meant the same (we don’t need them, we don’t need them)
The kids of tomorrow don’t need today (we don’t need them, we don’t need them)
When they live in the sins of yesterday

We don’t need them!

Songwriters
Solowoniuk, Aaron / D’Sa, Ian / Gallant, Jon / Kowalewicz, Ben

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Cover art.
Cover art.
Video still.
Video still.

Flags by Oh Land

Here is the video for Nanna Øland Fabricius’s song “Flags” from her latest album, “Earth Sick”.  As one might expect, the video features a number of flags — her own creations:

flag1 flag2-rotated flag3

Oh Land: Flags (2014).

Lyrics:

It’s incredibly handsome,
The teeth so white
You smile to the cameras
And speak for your rights
While I empty the fridge and kick off the sneaks
And pop off the lid and then
Here’s what I would have done
Would have never done wrong
And the telly’s still on while…[Chorus:]
You say that you did it
You came up with it
You ran to the summit waving all the flags
I would be
I could be
Miraculously
Tomorrow I’m coming
Waving all the flagsAnd the tank’s still rolling
The dust still itch
My face still nowhere
While you’re spirits’ at risk
And I empty the fridge and kick off the sneaks
And pop off the lid and then
Here’s what I would have done
Would have never done wrong
And the telly’s still on while…[Chorus]

It’s too easy to sit and point your finger like a hypocrite
But I’m gonna be the first to admit
That it’s hard not to quit
When you’re outrun, and everything drown
In the horizon
Gone gone gone

Climb the ladder, climb the ladder
Gonna show you one day I can do the walk
Aiming at, aiming at the top
‘Cause I am a sharp shooter

[Chorus]

Doctors’ appointment at 10:30
Remember to refill Percocet
Get milk
Cucumber, tomato
1 six pack
Matches
2pm meeting Maja for the Uruguay game
Call Farra
Do the laundry
Tax returns

…and then maybe save the planet!

Bio (from ohlandmusic.com):

NANNA ØLAND FABRICIUS, KNOWN TO FANS AROUND THE WORLD AS THE ARTIST OH LAND, CAME IN TO THE MUSIC SCENE IN 2008 UNDER LESS THAN CONVENTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES. WHEN 10 YEARS OF TRAINING AND A BUDDING CAREER IN BALLET WAS ABRUPTLY ENDED BY INJURY, A LIFE IN MUSIC BEGAN.

AT THE AGE OF 22, FABRICIUS WROTE AND PRODUCED HER FIRST ALBUM FAUNA, WHICH WAS RELEASED TO MUCH CRITICAL ACCLAIM. HAVING RECORDED MOST OF THE ALBUM BY HERSELF IN HER BEDROOM, FABRICIUS DISCOVERED AN EARLY KNACK FOR PRODUCTION. THE PROCESS THAT FABRICIUS FOUND IN CREATING FAUNA WAS FORESHADOWING FOR WHAT WOULD COME AFTER.

EARTH SICK, OH LAND’S FOURTH ALBUM, MARKS A RETURN TO THE ROOTS THAT LAUNCHED HER MUSIC CAREER; WRITING, RECORDING AND PRODUCING EVERYTHING HERSELF AT HOME, WITH THE HELP OF HER CLOSEST FRIENDS, FAMILY AND TALENTS. RECORDED PRIMARILY IN HER BROOKLYN, NEW YORK APARTMENT, EARTH SICK IS A HYBRID OF SYMPHONIC AND ELECTRONIC SOUNDS, MASTERFULLY WOVEN TOGETHER. LAYERS OF LUSH VOCALS AND RICH STRING ARRANGEMENTS COMBINE FOR THE NEXT CHAPTER IN OH LAND’S SIGNATURE SOUNDSCAPE.

Musical White Flags

The white flag of surrender is a recurring motif in popular music. Here is a brief survey, courtesy of YouTube:

Our first and most popular musical white flag was a 2003 pop hit by Dido with a video featuring Whedonverse actor David Boreanaz.  “White flag” appears in the chorus:  I will go down with this ship / And I won’t put my hands up in surrender / There will be no white flag above my door / I’m in love and always will be.  (But: since when has surrender been signaled by placing a white flag above a door?)

The virtual pop/hip hop band Gorillaz also has a song titled White Flag, from their 2010 concept album Plastic Beach that envisioned the band on an floating island of trash. “White flag” appears in the third verse, as a symbol of peace:  Cool! White flag! White flag! / (Uh-huh, no war!) / No guns! (No corps!) / Just life (Just love) / No hype (Just fun).

White Flag is also a song by the Christian Contemporary Music singer Chris Tomlin, the lead single from the 2012 album Passion: White Flag.  As in the Dido song, the white flag here is the flag of surrender: We raise our white flag / We surrender / All to You / All to You.  But also the flag of peace, as in the Gorillaz song: We raise our white flag / The war is over / Love has come / Your love has won.

Shaun Groves is another Christian singer/songwriter with a song about white flags and surrendering to God:  There’s a white flag / Waving where my colors used to fly / You win / There’s a white flag / Giving up and giving all of me — I give in / I’m Yours to reign and to rule / I’m just a fool / With a white flag.

Disney teen actress/singer Sabrina Carpenter‘s 2014 song White Flag continues the “surrender” theme in its chorus: I’ll throw the white flag of surrender / Knock me down, not forever, just for now.  (But: since when is surrender — even an apparently temporary one — signaled by throwing a white flag?)

Cinnamon Chasers is the name of a solo project by Russ Davies, the son of The Kinks’ Dave Davies.  His 2009 song White Flag includes this mellow yet aggressive lyric, demanding surrender:  I don’t want to hurt you now, / I don’t want to hit the ground, / Show me white flag, / I won’t fight no more.

Sri Lankan/South African/Australian hip hop/punk singer Ecca Vandal chose White Flag to be her 2014 debut single.  it’s been nominated as people’s choice Single of the Year by Rolling Stone Australia.

Our last musical White Flag was a punk band from California’s Moreno Valley whose name was a play on the famous hardcore band Black Flag (itself a reference to the black flag of anarchy). Their guitarist, the late Pat Fear, said “we’re trying to get back to an archistic state of music”.  This is a track from their 1984 album Third Strike.

The cover art for their Third Strike album is a nice mash-up of the US flag, the famous photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima, and their four-bar logo (the inverse of their anti-namesake's, Black Flag).
The cover art for their Third Strike album is a nice mash-up of the US flag, the famous photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima, and their four-bar logo (the tipped-over inverse of their anti-namesake’s, Black Flag).

This list is by no means complete. Do you know of other “white flag” songs? Please tell us about them in the comments below.