Playlist: Trouble in Paradise
07 Aug 2018

What does paradise mean to you? A pina colada on a white-sand beach? A beautiful sunset over Mayan ruins? The summer 2018 issue of Index on Censorship magazine looks at some of the world’s most popular “paradise” destinations and asks whether their reality quite lives up to their reputation (hint, it doesn’t, especially when it comes to free expression). But criticise these places all you like, the concept of paradise at least, whether lost or found, has been quite the inspiration for a lot of iconic music. Here we pick our top tracks in tribute to the theme. We hope you enjoy listening, sort of. 

Holiday by Madonna

Ah Holiday by Madonna, that quintessential going away hit, especially when it first came out in the 80s. This song is pretty syrupy, we’re not going to lie. Madonna calls for everybody to “put [their] trouble down” for a day and celebrate. There’s not really a hint that holiday doesn’t always equal everything being great. But what if you’re a tourist in Baja Mexico Sur, where you might very well see bodies of those involved in the drug trade dangling from bridges, as Stephen Woodman explores in the magazine? Not such a holiday then is it Madge?

Holidays in the Sun by the Sex Pistols 

The Sex Pistols actually have experienced a holiday gone wrong, when they went to the island of Jersey and were kicked out. So they switched the sunshine for several weeks in Berlin instead. And this inspired their song Holidays in the Sun, in which they want you to “see some history” and visit “the new Belsen”. It’s basically a really catchy way of arguing for visiting grittier places. 

Paradise by Coldplay

Coldplay’s song Paradise is about dreams dashed, in this case that of a girl who grows up in a world that is far from paradise and can only access it through her dreams.  It reminds us of the superb short story by contributing editor Kaya Genç, who writes about an elderly man in Turkey who looks back on his life, his expectations for paradise and what became of them.

Cruel Summer by Bananarama

Admittedly this is less about a destination gone bad and more about not being able to go to said destination. There are lines like “My friends are away and I’m on my own.” Summer is cruel because summer is about staying put. But maybe that’s for the best? What’s so great about going to a destination that is tumbling down a free speech index? Just some food for thought Bananarama.

Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival

At the song’s centre is the moon. The moon! Who hasn’t stared at the starry sky when abroad as a holiday highlight? And yet… it’s a bad moon. The lyrics are nothing short of foreboding; “I see trouble on the way” for example. Despite the downbeat lyrics, the melody remains pretty upbeat. Sort of like being a tourist in Sri Lanka, where you’re surrounded by beautiful sites but also the legacy of war.

Holiday by Dizzee Rascal

Talk about making an offer you can’t refuse – Dizzee Rascal invites the object of his affections away on what sounds like the ideal vacation (or two or three – take your pick from the South of France, Ibiza or Milan). There’ll be champagne and a sun tan. Perfect! But why no mention of Malta or the Maldives or those other beautiful hotspots? Maybe Dizzee ran out of line space or maybe Dizzee circa 2009 foresaw the issues that would affect these areas by 2018.

Buffalo Soldier by Bob Marley

Go to a beach bar in the Caribbean, that ultimate holiday destination, and you’d be hard pressed not to hear Bob Marley. For many a visitor he is the soundtrack of the region. And yet as much as his songs are soothing, they are also very political. Marley was a man who would not gloss over the darker sides of paradise. For this reason, we like to think if he was alive today he would have contributed to our issue. Buffalo Soldier, a reminder of the history of slavery in the USA and the Caribbean, is case in point. Easy to enjoy, until you actually listen to the lyrics.

Holiday by Green Day

Our third and final offering with holiday in the title and yet the only one of the three songs that isn’t in total praise of a vacation. Green Day’s tribute to your time off talks less about nice things and instead looks at US political conservatism under George W. Bush and the Iraq war. The chorus’ line – “This is our lives on holiday” – attacks US apathy. Released in 2005 but certainly still relevant to different areas of the world today.

Trouble in Paradise

The summer 2018 issue of Index on Censorship magazine takes you on holiday, just a different kind of holiday. From Malta to the Maldives, we explore how freedom of expression is under attack in dream destinations around the world.

With: Martin Rowson, Jon Savage, Jonathan Tel 


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