Today’s Song of the Day, “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy, was the theme song for the 1989 film, Do the Right Thing which is directed by Spike Lee, who turned 65 yesterday. The song reached number one on Hot Rap Singles and number 20 on the Hot R&B Singles. It was named the best single of 1989 by The Village Voice in their Pazz & Jop critics’ poll. It has become Public Enemy’s best-known song and has received accolades as one of the greatest songs of all time by critics and publications.
The song’s music video was filmed in Brooklyn on April 22, 1989, and presented Public Enemy in part political rally, part live performance. Public Enemy biographer Russell Myrie wrote that the video “accurately [brought] to life … the emotion and anger of a political rally”.
Spike Lee produced and directed two music videos for this song. The first featured clips of various scenes from Do the Right Thing. In the second video, Lee opened the video with film from the 1963 March on Washington and transitioned to a staged, massive political rally in Brooklyn called the “Young People’s March to End Racial Violence”.
The song first appeared on the movie soundtrack, released in June 1989 a month before the movie hit theaters. It plays in the opening scene where Rosie Perez dances to it, and is used as the motif, playing from Radio Raheem’s boombox (adorned with a Public Enemy sticker) throughout the film until a climactic scene where Sal smashes it with a baseball bat.