People around the world waited excitedly for 12:00 a.m. Thursday morning as indie rock artist Hozier released his new single, “Jackboot Jump.”
The live-recorded single is upbeat, groovy and makes listeners want to dance. It starts with a guitar riff, and the compelling beat of the tambourine is a driving force throughout the song. This style is reflected in Hozier’s past work, especially from his most recent album, "Wasteland, Baby!" Songs like “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)” and “To Noise Making (Sing)” share similar beats that give each piece an uplifting and powerful tone.
“Jackboot Jump” relates to “Wasteland, Baby!” through its rebellious message about past revolutions against oppression and slavery. Much like “Nina Cried Power,” which was released in an EP prior to the aforementioned album, “Jackboot Jump” mentions famous protests around the world. The titular term “jackboot” refers to oppressors of the past and present.
Hozier’s lyrics allude heavily to police brutality. The song begins, “At Standing Rock the jackboot jump, you’d swear was all the rage,” referring to the Standing Rock protests that took place in late 2016. Joshua Barajas, a reporter for PBS News, said protestors assembled to stop the construction of a 1,172-mile oil pipeline that would pollute the river and destroy Native American land inhabited by the Oceti Sakowin tribe. After months of refusing to back down, hundreds of protestors were arrested to clear the way for construction.
The Standing Rock protest isn’t the only rebellion mentioned in this new song. The singer also discusses the current uprisings in Hong Kong. “In Hong Kong, it won’t be long ’till they have to fall in line,” Hozier sings. “For the long hand of Beijing stretches south a thousand miles.”
According to BBC News, anti-government protesters have been resisting proposed plans that would allow extradition, meaning Japan could put people who have committed crimes in China in a Chinese prison, which would subject Japanese people to different laws. Protestors believe this bill could subject Hongkongers to unfair trial and unnecessary violence.
Hozier consistently uses his platform and music to highlight important civil rights issues such as police brutality, racism, gender equality and LGBTQ discrimination. As shown in pictures on Hozier's Instagram, he waves various LGBTQ pride flags during most shows, representing each identity within the acronym. His lyrics also reflect this mission. Songs such as “Nina Cried Power” highlight important political and social problems while recognizing those who have rebelled against discrimination and oppression.
“Jackboot Jump” seems to follow Hozier’s recent trend of supporting ill-treated groups of people and encouraging activism. In a tweet, he said this new single is the representative “first taste” of more music to come in the new year. If the supposed new album is anything like “Jackboot Jump,” it’s sure to be a powerful testimony dedicated to highlighting important issues around the world and promoting equality for all.
While he hasn’t stated it himself, it’s speculated that Hozier references George Orwell’s “1984” in this piece of music. “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on the human face — forever,” Orwell’s famous line reads. Hozier has taken that line and applied it to today’s world. He sings, “It’s always the corporate infrastructure over the structure of your face.”
The new single ends on a hopeful note. Despite all the political and social unrest occurring in the world today, Hozier looks toward a better future. He emphasizes the power of standing up for what one believes in. He also anticipates the raw, rebellious potential of future generations.
He sings, “But the jackboot only jumps down on people standing up / So you know good things are happening if the jackboot needs to jump.”
Contact Charlotte Matherly at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts, and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.