Top 40 Activism with Justin Tranter

Can political protest exist within the confines of commercial popular music? Songwriter Justin Tranter is equal parts songwriter and activist. You’ve likely heard his contributions to songs by Britney Spears, Julia Michaels, Selena Gomez, Janelle Monae and Ariana Grande, but unless you were paying close attention, you may have missed the essential subtext in his work. As an LGBTQ activist and board member of GLAAD, Justin brings his activism into Top 40 pop music lyrically and otherwise. On this episode, he breaks down his newest hit “Swan Song” which was co-written with Dua Lipa. This song is a triple threat serving as the end credits for the film Alita: Battle Angel, a Billboard hit, and a protest against the silencing of marginalized people. Justin shows us how representation in songwriting is inseparable from politics. And he’s creating an open mic for new voices and stories that have been historically ignored by the pop industry.

Songs Discussed:

  • Dua Lipa – “Swan Song”
  • Charlie Puth – “Attention”
  • Selena Gomez – “Good For You”
  • Imagine Dragons – “Believer”
  • Taylor Swift – “Love Story”
  • Halsey – “Bad At Love”
  • Haydn – “Farewell” Symphony No. 45
  • Shea Diamond – “Seen It All”

Listen to D. Orxata’s Queering Pop Music playlist.