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Arcade Fire Returns With 2020's First Big Post-Election Protest Anthem

"I don't think they understand that I am not a patient man," Win Butler of Arcade Fire sings in "Generation A."
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"I don't think they understand that I am not a patient man," Win Butler of Arcade Fire sings in "Generation A."

This year's interminable election season has helped spawn an outsize assortment of frequently vital protest music. Late Tuesday, as part of Stephen Colbert's election-night special for Showtime, Arcade Fire premiered the first big post-election protest song of 2020.

Titled "Generation A," and praised by Colbert as "a hopeful message to the youths," the song leans hard into rousing grandiosity. And, while summing up the frustrations and furies of an entire generation is no easy feat, singer Win Butler finds a smart angle: the deep undercurrent of impatience that comes with waiting for your turn to lead.

"I don't think they understand that I am not a patient man," he sings en route to a chant-along chorus of "I can't wait" and, less hopefully, "Too little, too late."

Assuming it gets a studio version, "Generation A" will be Arcade Fire's first release since... okay, a song on last year's Dumbo soundtrack. But let's consider it a sequel — and a worthy companion — to 2017's Everything Now.

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Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)