Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Considering the confusing state of politics these days, it is imperative that United States citizens understand the content of the country’s Constitution. To help with that, WNYC Studios is releasing an album of songs by myriad artists inspired by the 27 Constitutional amendments. Born from the podcast More Perfect, a Radiolab spin-off series that breaks down Supreme Court decisions into understandable language, the record is titled 27: The Most Perfect Album and features musicians such as Dolly Parton, Kevin Morby, and Devendra Banhart.
“The mission of this album is to take these sometimes-forgotten words and animate them through the power of music,” said Jad Abumrad, Peabody Award–winning host and creator of More Perfect and Radiolab. “These 27 amendments not only outline our basic rights as Americans, but they also show a country changing, evolving, reimagining itself. Striving — and not always succeeding — to be better. These songs are a small way to say that these words matter.”
The 35-song offering — several amendments were covered by multiple artists — is a potpourri of musical styles including disco, pop, punk, and country. Brooklyn duo Sateen delivers a shimmering number about the hotly debated Second Amendment, which guarantees the people’s right to own and bear arms for their defense. The coveted First Amendment, which promises the right to freedom of speech, press, and religion, as well as the right to petition government, gets a gritty interpretation from Canadian rapper Joey Stylez, while L.A. rock group Cherry Glazerr speaks to the First with delicate vocals over a haunting, beat-driven melody. Dolly Parton takes on the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, in a poignant, pointed country tune, and Devendra Banhart explores the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, which established the procedures for a successor to the presidency, in a folk-infused literal storytelling of the process.
Akin to Schoolhouse Rock, the musical education programming that ingrained Constitutional verbiage and governmental processes into heaps of kids’ heads thanks to catchy tunes such as “The Preamble,” “I’m Just a Bill,” “Sufferin’til Suffrage,” and “I’m Gonna Send Your Vote to College,” Most Perfect reminds listeners of the all-important amendments by wrapping them up in earworm-y songs. The record will be available digitally for free on September 18, in conjunction with More Perfect’s third season. For more about More Perfect, see wnycstudios.org/shows/radiolabmoreperfect.