Alternative protest songs for Occupy Central

By Karly Cox

Hong Kong protesters usually sing songs by Beyond and from Les Miserables. But we think Occupy Central needs an anthem all its own, and we have some suggestions ...

By Karly Cox |

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If you've ever been to a protest, you know there'll be singing; in Hong Kong, the anthems for pretty much all protests are Do You Hear the People Sing?, and local band Beyond’s Boundless Sea and Sky (海闊天空). But Occupy Central is in a protest class of its own, so perhaps it needs a new anthem. We have some suggestions:

Umbrella – Rihanna

This one is kind of a no-brainer. Western media came up with the “Umbrella Revolution” hashtag, and it’s stuck. Not only does the song’s title make it an obvious choice, but also lyrics such as “Now that it's raining more than ever/Know that we'll still have each other/You can stand under my umbrella” make it particularly fitting for a movement that has seen very generous protesters supporting each other, sharing food and generally being polite. Altogether now: Umbrella-ella-ella eh-eh-eh (Revolution)  …

Run This Town – Jay-Z (featuring Rihanna and Kanye West)

It almost seems like Rihanna predicted our need for new anthems: she is featured alongside Kanye West on Jay-Z’s 2009 hit. A tribute to the hip hop trio themselves, the song could equally work for the Occupy Central movement, with its never-give-up lines “I keep doin’ my own thing/ Walkin’ tall against the rain/Victory’s within the mile/Almost there, don’t give up now”.

Bonus: it'll give the movement some swag

Something’s Coming - West Side Story

Long popular at Hong Kong protests, Do You Hear the People Sing?, from Les Misérables, is a classic revolution song, telling of anger and standing “beyond the barricade”. But Occupy Central deserves its own classic Broadway number – and with the attitude of hope most protesters have shown, we recommend this one from West Side Story. We imagine many students, especially, are expecting that “Something’s coming/Don’t know when/But it’s soon … / It’s only just out of reach.”

Otherwise – given the rain on Tuesday night, and that it’s typhoon season – there’s always Singing in the Rain, of course.

Rather Be - Clean Bandit

An anthem doesn’t have to be a well established record: some of the biggest songs of the year also belong on this list. With lyrics like “We’re a thousand miles from comfort  …/ But as long as you are with me, there’s no place I’d rather be”, this British group's upbeat track seems to sum up the opinion of many of the students who boycotted classes and inspired the Occupy Central strike to start early. 

Maps - Maroon 5

The Occupy Movement started in Admiralty, and has spread across Hong Kong. It also moves in waves, with the large crowds starting in one area in the morning, and moving elsewhere later in the day. It can be hard to know where to head, which roads are closed, how to get to a district when exits are closed. You know what you need? Maps.

Give Peace a Chance – John Lennon

Hongkongers are continuing to amaze international observers with their quiet, organised approach to voicing their opinion. They have expressed demands, but the protest has been largely - especially relative to other big democracy movements - pecaceful. Maybe like John Lennon sang, they are hoping above all to give peace a chance.

Anything, really, by The Police

The cops have been out on the streets as much as the protesters, so it was natural that 70s band The Police would feature on this list. Start with their song Don't Stand Too Close to Me as it encapsulates the feeling that, while people may all be out on the streets together, everyone wants their personal space.

Head over to our photo galleries "Humans of Occupy Central" to see just who are some of the people on the streets.