Last week, Baltimore indie band Lower Dens released "Young Republicans," the first single from their upcoming project The Competition. On May 30, the band's label Ribbon Music shared an open letter claimed that "a handful" of unnamed radio programmers have refused to add the song to airwaves due its political content, allegedly deeming the track "too controversial," "too hot" and "a song we probably could not get behind."
Ribbon Music's letter outlines the contemporary significance of "Young Republicans." The label praises the song's focus on "the dangers of competition impressed upon us via social networks, the workplace, media, politics lifestyle choices — seemingly everything." However, the political overtones were led some programmers to chicken out, according to the letter:
Turns out, regardless of how immediate, not to mention relevant, we believe this song to be, a handful of select radio programmers (close partners, in fact) unanimously agreed this song was, based solely on its subject matter and title, "too controversial," "too hot," "a song we probably could not get behind." Naturally we (the label) considered pivoting songs in hopes of securing the faintest assurance of support. In the end however it was decided that this record is about competition, and the artist’s intention – as it should be – is to compete in getting the message of the music across first. Thank you Jana, for your steadfastness in this regard! This song is as important to its songwriters as it is to us, and as important to the album as it is to the timing that it is released. Further, Radio will always have time to redeem itself, and there will be plenty of songs to follow. To be fair, radio has to date never fully embraced the band, but to be dismissed without even being heard (in certain instances only) is something to push back against vs. give up on.
Lower Dens frontperson Jana Hunter called the blacklisting "hilarious and true and insane to me." They also posted a Twitter thread about the song's personal significance. "So much horror and misery in our society has its roots in the actions of wealthy, endlessly privileged people who can not sate themselves," Hunter wrote. "It’s funny to me in a sick kind of way that they’ve co-opted the language of victims, and somehow believe themselves violated by others’ desire to be let alone and live in peace."
The Competition is out September 6.
Thumbnail photo by Yassine El Mansouri