MusicDecember 6, 2016

Songs in the key of Key: the best songs about the PM… ever


Henry Oliver listens to every song ever recorded about John Key to come up with the definitive listicle on the matter.

For all his popularity, political skill and steady, centrist economics, John Key was disliked by many, including, apparently, a few musicians who were inspired to write songs about him. So, with his resignation, he’s not just leaving his party with a vacant spot at the top, and his bestie Mike Hosting with a tear in the eye, he’s leaving a gap for whoever comes next to inspire the same ire.

So, as a tribute to our departing PM, here are the best songs about John Key.


Homebrew – ‘Listen to Us’

Not just a John Key protest song (okay, probably the John Key protest song), ‘Listen to Us’ is a take-down of the whole ‘neoliberal project’: privatisation, welfare cuts, corporate welfare, criminalisation, 90 day trial periods, tax cuts that favor the wealthy, structural racism.

If you’re at work and don’t have headphone, turn the sound off and press play anyway – the video works just as well.

Tourettes – John Key’s Son’s a DJ

Tourettes follows his guest verse in ‘Listen to Us’ with this spoken-word-based take-down of not just John Key’s economic policies, but the way the media endlessly reports the every move of the PM’s scion, while largely ignoring the impact of his policies.

Street Chant – ‘Little Children’

‘Little Children’ imagines scenes from the childhoods of John Key, Paula Bennett and Bronagh Key. They were all so innocent once, the song says, before they started dying inside. Little Johnny, who just wants a sausage sizzle.

Bonus track: Street Chant playing at a Young Nats ball protest with their cover of Blam Blam Blam’s ‘There Is No Depression in New Zealand’

Darren Watson – Planet Key

This is actually a better song than you’d think it would be if someone described it to you (i.e. ‘political satire blues song’), but the best thing about this song is that it was banned by the Electoral Commission when it came out in the lead up to the 2014 election. What more could you ask for as the writer of a John Key protest song? The second best thing about this song is the video, especially the bit where he’s playing a dolphin like a guitar.

Cameron Churchill – ‘John Key’s Not So Bad’

A smugly ironic take on John Key apologists. Best line: ‘Yeah he’s kind of like a lawyer and he’s kind of like your dad’. True.

@Peace – ‘Kill the Prime Minister’

This one got @Peace in a bit of hot water, especially for the sexual stuff. Sure, artists can express themselves how they like, but c’mon man, no need to bring the family into it that way. You can play out your assassination fantasy without alluding to something that sounds a little bit like (at the very least) sexual assault.

John Key – ‘Trotie Dubstep RWC Rugby World Cup 2011’

What. The. Fuck? This is the best and worst thing I’ve seen or heard all day. (Miss you, dubstep.)

Max Key – ‘PARADISE’

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Viewed through a certain lens, this could be as searing a critique of John Key’s term as anything. We once were warriors. Or at least farmers. Now we’re ‘influencers’ and ‘disrupters’. We used to take pride, now we take selfies. Our All Blacks used to wear Canterbury jersey’s made out of heavy, non-wicking cotton, now they wear that fancy Adidas polyester ‘Woven Carbon’. This is our nation now. This is what we aspire to. This is what a post-Key utopia looks like. Paradise.


We put this to Twitter, and the people came back with a whole bunch of songs that weren’t literally about John Key but could be read as such with a cheeky wink and an over-zealous nudge.

Steam – ‘Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)’

The Fall – ‘No Xmas for John Key’

James Brown – ‘The Boss’

AC/DC – ‘Highway to Hell’

Bret McKenzie – ‘Man or Muppet’

Beatles – ‘Revolution’

Motley Crue – ‘Time for Change’

Jordan Reyne – ‘Dear John’

Mainers Mountaineers – ‘Miss Me When I’m Gone’

Lesley Gore – ‘Now It’s Judy’s Turn to Cry’

Solange – ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’

Peter Gabriel – ‘I Don’t Remember’

Proud Scum – ‘Jump Off Grafton Bridge’

DJ Khaled – ‘I Got the Keys’

Rollins Band – ‘Liar’

Carly Simon – ‘You’re So Vain’

Kenny Rogers – ‘Coward of the County’

The Carpenters – ‘Top of the World’

Now… What rhymes with ‘English’?

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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