Feb 21, 2012
As earworm sister (brother?) Crikey blog The Stump noted, US President Barack Obama released his re-election campaign musical playlist via music streaming service Spotify.
Playlists are often used to try to get someone to love the compiler so what does Obama’s playlist reveal about his need for voters to at least like him? Really, really like him.
Not much. Listening to the 29-song strong — too long! — playlist it’s apparent these truly are “picks by the campaign staff – including a few of President Obama’s favorites” rather than the US Commander-in-Chief’s personal choices. It’s a politically-savvy playlist by committee designed not to upset the vast majority of middle America. Much like Obama’s presidency to date, cynics may claim.
There’s nothing from the unseemly and potentially upsetting hippity-hoppity brigade for starters.
Genuine classics (Aretha Franklin’s cover of The Band’s The Weight, Al Green’s Lets Stay Together, Green Onions by Booker T & The MGs) nestle uncomfortably among lesser – much lesser – tracks by the likes of former Hootie & The Blowfish singer Darius Rucker.
(Someone inexplicably believes Darius Ruckers is worthy of two inclusions here. His ‘always look on the bright side of life’ This, for example, is vomit-inducing stuff with Rucker ruminating on how his misfortunes were all for the best really ‘cos he’s such a lucky man to have met his wife. By the time he’s noting “How I cried when my mama passed away/But now I’ve got an angel looking out for me today” listeners may wonder what’s next: “Lost my job/Lost my house/But met you at the soup kitchen”?)
Lyrically, everywhere, it’s all mostly clichéd, broad-stroke stuff about “standing up”, “rising up”, “living dreams” and – oh yes – “hope”. Because hope is important.
The inclusion of U2’s Even Better Than The Real Thing isn’t exactly Obama’s (or more likely, his people’s) Born In The USA misinterpretation of a song moment but it’s a misstep since it’s basically about phony fakes. Its opening “Give me one more chance and you’ll be satisfied” line doesn’t do much to dispel perceived widespread disappointment at Obama’s first term as president either.
And, while on the subject of The Boss, it’s Bruce Springsteen who shows other included comparative youngsters like Arcade Fire and Wilco how to put together a brilliantly emotive flag-waver. We Take Care Of Our Own, from his forthcoming Wrecking Ball album –- despite taking potshots at US government ineffectiveness over Hurricane Katrina (non)rescue efforts – will have even many non-American listeners ready to declare unswerving allegiance to Uncle Sam.
In some ways, the playlist is the perfect election campaign soundtrack. It’s a long hard slog that leaves everyone feeling just a little sullied by compromises made along the way.
At least No Nostalgia by Agesandages definitely sounds like the kind of song Obama’s travelling election campaign team can sing together on the campaign bus, Tiny Dancer style.
When Ricky Martin’s mid-compilation arrival perks things up considerably it’s a bad sign.
How’s that hopey-changey stuff working out for ya?
Spotify is not currently available in Australia. Listen to Barack Obama’s full election campaign playlist via Rdio HERE.