First Hit #1: August 29, 1970
A man once said that it was impossible to make a film about war without glorifying it in some way. Edwin Starr, strangely, runs into the same problem with this song. Every line, every word, is about war being useless, pointless, violent and terrible. Which should, by all logic, make war seem terrible. Unfortunately, Starr is too charismatic, the song too catchy, and the chants of “War! Hooh! What is it good for?” have the really unintended consequence of making war seem, well, kind of cool. It’s just too much fun for a song that’s got a message, and at the end of the day all you can think of is the line “WAR! Hooh!” This is a song that actually is kind of violent but also alluring and compelling, just like, well, most war films. Even if you grasp the message, everything about the song is too cool to make you think it’s saying anything that’s overtly negative. I’m not sure if there was any way to get around this, as any changes would make it a less accomplished song, but I’m not convinced war is good for nothing. After all, it inspired this!