Mick Jagger unveiled two politically charged new songs, "England Lost" and "Get a Grip." The Rolling Stones singer said he penned the tracks in response to the "anxiety [and] unknowability of the changing political situation." He added, "We obviously have a lot of problems. So am I politically optimistic? … No."
"England Lost" boasts a bluesy breakbeat and finds Jagger recounting the story of a disappointing soccer match, which serves as an analogy for this "difficult moment in our history." He continued, "It's about the unknowability about where you are and the feeling of insecurity. That's how I was feeling when I was writing. It's obviously got a fair amount of humor because I don't like anything too on the nose but it's also got a sense of vulnerability of where we are as a country."
The noir-style video for "England Lost" follows a jittery businessman who discovers he's being followed after leaving work. A chase ensues as the man runs through London then out into the countryside where things get even weirder. The man is hit by a bicyclist, then a car, then dashes into the ocean where he's apprehended by two men who drag him ashore. The townspeople surround him and a little girl tells him flat out, "Pull yourself together."
"Gotta Get a Grip," is a grittier dance rock tune, though it too has a sinister edge. The video is set in an opulent nightclub where extravagance and excess reach a boiling point and explode into chaos while Jagger rails against everything from greed to xenophobia. "Everybody's stuffing their pockets, everybody's on tape," he sneers. "The news is all fake/ Let 'em eat chicken and let 'em eat steak/ Let 'em eat shit, let 'em eat cake."
Of the track, Jagger said, "The message I suppose is – despite all those things that are happening, you gotta get on with your own life, be yourself and attempt to create your own destiny."
Jagger said he wrote "Gotta Get A Grip" and "England Lost" in April and chose to release them as standalone tracks rather than waiting to put them on a full album. "It's always refreshing to get creative in a different fashion and I feel a slight throwback to a time when you could be a bit more free and easy by recording on the hoof and putting it out there immediately," he said. "I didn't want to wait until next year when these two tracks might lose any impact and mean nothing."
Jagger also spoke about his current musical tastes, noting he'll often make playlists filled with recommendations from young family members with old favorites. "I listen to R&B and pop and strange mixes of old and new and then like everyone I make my own random playlists," he said. "The last things I added to a list were Kendrick Lamar, Skepta, Mozart, Howlin’ Wolf, Tame Impala, obscure Prince tracks and classic soul stuff from The Valentine Brothers. I really like Kendrick Lamar; he’s also talking about discontent and he really nailed it. I thought his stuff, and what [British rapper] Skepta is doing, are very interesting and pretty much on the button.’" Skepta will appear on a "reimagined" version of "England Lost."