[T]he most explicit political songs are often pedantic and cringeworthy, while the best political music is generally more sociological in bent, from Springsteen’s best to Kendrick Lamar’s vivid rhymes.
The first two songs that came to mind were these: “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles and “Common People” by Pulp. Both songs are sociological commentary with the first considering the lonely life and the second addressing a woman who wants to slum it and experience the life of “common people.” One is sharper in its approach than the other – Paul McCartney has a certain distance from the character while Jarvis Cocker suggests the girl doesn’t really understand what is going on – but neither is overtly political even as they draw attention to important social issues.
Yet, where exactly the line is between the overly political and strongly sociological is difficult to determine. Some of this may be on the political activities of the music artist; if they are known activists, their music may be interpreted in such a way. Some songs have a beat or rhythm that inspires group behavior – maybe a more martial or driving beat? – while a song like “Eleanor Rigby” wouldn’t exactly inspire physical action with its string quartet. Songs can also later become adopted by protest movements or political leaders without the support of the artists. And, most mass media sources don’t do a whole lot with angry music – much pop or rock music is upbeat or is more veiled if it is about negative topics.