The song's title was originally a popular slogan among the 1960s Black Power movements in the United States. Its lyrics either mention or allude to several television series, advertising slogans and icons of entertainment and news coverage that serve as examples of what "the revolution will not" be or do.
Roy Clark's 1972 song "The Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka" alludes to the song in its title. Scott-Heron had accurately predicted that as part of the revolution, several TV shows that were popular with rural audiences (which he mentioned by name in the lyrics) would no longer be relevant; indeed, all but one of them had been canceled by 1971 as part of a programming strategy known as the rural purge. Nevertheless, two such shows, the subjects of Clark's response (but neither of which Scott-Heron mentioned), survived and thrived by entering syndication, countering the revolution.
In the beginning of hip hop artist Common's song "The 6th Sense" from the 2000 album, Like Water for Chocolate he states "The revolution will not be televised, the revolution is here."
Elvis Costello's song "Invasion Hit Parade" from his 1991 album Mighty Like a Rose contains the lines "Incidentally the revolution will be televised/With one head for business and another for good looks/Until they started arriving with their rubber aprons and their butcher's hooks," an allusion to the song.
The Sarah Jones song "Your Revolution," a feminist interpretation of the song criticizing misogyny in mainstream hip hop, with the key line "Your revolution will not happen between these thighs". A radio station that played the song was fined by the FCC.
Molotov, a Mexican Rock Band with political inspirations, have recorded a cover entitled "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (La Revo)" for their 2004 album "Con Todo Respeto." They translated the lyrics to Spanish and added their own lyrics that applied to the social context in Mexico.
On their 1999 album "Ad Finité" the band Genaside II has a song called " The Genaside Will Not Be Televised", where some words of the original text were changed, such as different film actors being named.
In 1998, Prince's band The New Power Generation released a 1998 one-off single entitled "The War", where the title track's hook repeats a paraphrasing of the title: "One, two; the revolution will be colorized..."
In 2012 the Spanish rapper Rayden publish a song named "No nacimos ayer" where he says in the chorus: "La revolución nunca será televisada" (The revolution never will be televised)
In June 2013 a sign quoting the poem's title (in Greek) was posted on a window inside the Greek state broadcaster ERT as employees resisted its closure by the government under pressure from the "troika" of the EU, ECB and the IMF to cut public spending under their austerity regime.
Released in September 2013, South Korean entertainer G-Dragon's "Coup d'Etat" contains a vocal sample of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" performed by Gil Scott-Heron.