Judging the Presidential race by its iPod playlists
By Abby Johnston, 3:54PM, Thu. Oct. 18, 2012
Hard to imagine politicians tuning out the news with their iPods, but both Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have been forthright about their musical tastes. We’ll leave debate analysis to the pros, but we’ve translated songs associated with the candidates into what that says about their foreign policy, women’s rights, and campaign tactics.
You’re up first, Mr. President.
AgesandAges (“No Nostalgia”)
Arcade Fire (“We Used to Wait ”)
Dierks Bentley (“Home ”)
Booker T. & the MG’s (“Green Onions”)
Zac Brown Band (“Keep Me in Mind ”)
Earth Wind & Fire (“Got to Get You into My Life”)
Electric Light Orchestra (“Mr. Blue Sky”)
Florence + the Machine (“You’ve Got the Love”)
Aretha Franklin (“The Weight“)
Montgomery Gentry (“My Town”)
Al Green (“Let’s Stay Together”)
Jennifer Hudson (“Love You I Do”)
The Impressions (“Keep On Pushing”)
Ray LaMontagne (“You Are the Best Thing”)
Ledisi (“Raise Up ”)
Ricky Martin (“The Best Thing About Me is You”)
Noah & the Whale (“Tonight’s the Kind of Night ”)
No Doubt (“Different People”)
REO Speedwagon (“Roll With the Changes”)
Darius Rucker (“Learn to Live”)
Raphael Saadiq (“Keep Marchin’”)
Bruce Springsteen (“We Take Care of Our Own”)
Sugarland (“Everyday America ”)
James Taylor (“Your Smiling Face ”)
U2 (“Even Better Than the Real Thing ”)
Wilco (“I Got You “)
Obama’s love for Al Green is no secret. He belted “Let’s Say Together,” which appears on this list, at a New York fundraising event. And yet Obama’s campaign jams boast a few gems. The lead-off track from Portland, Ore., septet AgesandAges' 2011 debut, Alright You Restless, is an under-the-radar inclusion, a Stephen Stills-type harmonic ode to joy and hope. Maybe the President's hipper than we thought.
Foreign policy: Arcade Fire, Florence + the Machine, Noah & the Whale, U2, Ricky Martin, etc. Obama's balanced domestic fare and foreign imports well, but largely from our friends across the pond. We'd like to see him address the rest of the world, but maybe he has Hillary Clinton’s playlist to take care of that.
Women’s rights: No Doubt, Jennifer Hudson, Ledisi, Sugarland, Florence + the Machine, Aretha Franklin, etc. The President’s got some great leading ladies in the mix, including Aretha Franklin and future queen of lady vocalists Florence Welch. We glean that Mr. Obama isn’t afraid of a strong frontwoman, an unsurprising conclusion given the leadership roles assumed by his wife Michelle.
Campaign tactics: Obama’s message seems to be moving up and forward. “Keep Marchin’,” “Stand Up,” and “Keep on Pushing” are all songs of the next phase. He boasts broad musical tastes, harkening back to Motown classics and country superstars alike, attempting to capture all facets of “Everyday America.”
Time’s up. Your turn, Governor.
Beach Boys (“Good Vibrations”)
Clint Black (“Desperado”)
Johnny Cash (“Ring of Fire”)
Nat King Cole (“Stardust”)
Commodores (“Only You”)
Toby Keith (“As Good As I Once Was”)
Kid Rock (“Born Free”)
The Killers (“Read My Mind”)
The Kingston Trio (“The MTA (The Boston Subway Song)”
Tim McGraw (“It’s Your Love”)
Willie Nelson (“Over The Rainbow”)
Roy Orbison (“Crying”)
Del Shannon (“Runaway”)
Silversun Pickups (“Panic Switch”)
The Soggy Bottom Boys (“I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow”)
Carrie Underwood (“All-American Girl”)
Keith Urban (“Somebody Like You”)
Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons (“December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)”)
We could have predicted the country on Romney’s list, but the Killers and Silversun Pickups were relatively modern surprises, although now the latter has asked the governor to stop using “Panic Switch” at his rallies. Romney’s list is shorter, perhaps because Paul Ryan can’t stop blasting Rage Against the Machine in the campaign bus.
Foreign policy: Keith Urban. Romney kept it patriotic, including only the Australian country stud. He’s definitely got the backs of us here at home, but he may need to expand his horizons for better relations.
Women’s rights: Carrie Underwood. Again, Romney fails in gender diversity, including only country sweetheart Carrie Underwood. To be fair, women are still underrepresented in the music industry, but not in the 5% margin that Romney represents.
Campaign tactics: Governor Romney seems upset. “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” “Desperado,” and “Crying” indicate a moping presidential hopeful. Granted, this list is only tour bus favorites and not campaign songs (except for the Kid Rock approved “Born Free”), but one has to think these down-tempo songs put him in a mood.