Why Did Britain Ban This Klezmer Musician’s #1 Song?

Jake Painter, trumpet player, doesn’t look like much of a rabble-rouser. But the genial-visaged British musician’s band Captain SKA has just released Britain’s most popular song — and gotten it banned from a large portion of the country’s radio stations.

What’s the issue? “Liar, Liar” is a catchy, furious takedown of the United Kingdom’s current Prime Minister, Theresa May. (In its political explicitness, it likely differs from Painter’s work with British klezmer outfit The Matzoh Boys.) Opening with statistics about the number of children currently living in poverty in the U.K., currently 3.7 million, the song proceeds to lambast May for making cuts to a host of British institutions, including schools and the National Health Service.

“She’s a liar, liar,” runs the chorus. “She’s a liar, liar. You can’t trust her, no, no, no, no.”

Embed this video

In a pettier move, Captain SKA’s music video for the song features a sequence of unflattering clips of May, as well as some other conservative politicians, some of which are repeated in slow motion. May’s political decisions — and possibly, deceptions — are fair game, but but whether or not she occasionally looks silly doesn’t have much to do with them.

Also uncomfortable, at least for this author, is the way in which the song’s demonization of May echoes a host of criticisms lobbed at Hillary Clinton during her 2016 run for President of the United States. It’s all well and good to call politicians out for their flaws; May, after all, has made her share of abrupt, surprising political reversals. But let’s avoid having untrustworthiness become a catch-all criticism for female politicians, shall we?


Talya Zax

Talya Zax

Talya Zax is the Forward’s deputy culture editor. Contact her at zax@forward.com or on Twitter, @TalyaZax.

Recommend this article

Why Did Britain Ban This Klezmer Musician’s #1 Song?

Thank you!

This article has been sent!