#1) Barack Obama
"Move On Up" - Curtis Mayfield
"City Of Blinding Lights" - U2
"Think" - Aretha Franklin
"(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher" - Jackie Wilson
"Lovely Day" - Bill Withers
"Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" - Stevie Wonder
Mayfield's classic "Move On Up" is as uplifting as they come, and the kids will relate to it through Kanye West's rewrite, "Touch The Sky." U2 is always reliable, and Aretha's "Think," while it is directed at a romantic interest, gives crowds a chance to yell "Freedom!" Obama took some heat for "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," as it implied the arrogant air of inevitability he criticized Clinton for, but it's a Soul classic, as are his other selections. Interesting that he's the only candidate using much black music.
#2) Mike Huckabee
Whatever the band is playing
"Free Bird" - Lynyrd Skynyrd
"Unwritten" - Natasha Bedingfield
"Sweet Home Alabama" - Lynyrd Skynyrd
"R.O.C.K In The USA" - John Mellencamp
Huckabee plays bass in a band called Capitol Offense, and he seems to understand music better than any other candidate. At most of his events, Huckabee has local musicians perform and leaves the songs to them, often joining them on bass for a little Skynyrd. Good move, as it localizes the music and provides some nice photo-ops.
#3) Ron Paul
"Hope for America" - Steve Dore
Various other custom recordings with names like "Ron Paul For The Long Haul"
Paul is kicking it old school by letting his supporters create songs for him. Back in the 1800s, candidates often commissioned custom songs for their campaigns, but in modern times, familiarity is usually the way to go. Ron Paul is certainly original, and it's great to see him going counter-culture when it comes to his music.
Someday, a well-funded candidate will pay Diane Warren to write a custom song that will get lots of airplay on Adult Contemporary radio and lead that candidate to victory. Paul doesn't have that luxury, so he'll settle for his fans turning "New York, New York" into "Ron Paul, Ron Paul."
#4) Hillary Clinton
"You And I" - Celine Dion
"Suddenly I See" - KT Tunstall
"American Girl" - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" - The Police
"Takin' Care Of Business" - Bachman-Turner Overdrive
"Blue Sky" - Big Head Todd and the Monsters
"9 to 5" - Dolly Parton
Clinton's campaign had a "contest" where her supporters were asked to select her campaign song. It was more like her staff taking suggestions, as the winning choice was Celine Dion's "You And I," a song we refuse to believe anyone actually voted for. The song was created specifically for use in an Air Canada advertising campaign, which makes it both manufactured and Canadian.
Celine's song didn't go over so well on the road, so Clinton's people dumped it. The other choices are better, although "Suddenly I See" has played out on numerous TV shows, and "American Girl" might be a little too complex, especially when Petty sings, "If she had to die... trying." BTO's "Taking Care Of Business" has the opposite meaning of the title, as it's really a slacker anthem, but this being politics, most people won't go below the surface.
Clinton is relying a little too heavily on imports: Dion and BTO are Canadian, Tunstall is Scottish and The Police are from England.
#5) John McCain
"Johnny B. Goode" - Chuck Berry
"Take A Chance On Me" - ABBA
"All At Once" by The Fray
"I Won't Back Down" - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
"I Will Hold My Ground" - Darryl Worley
"Let's Get It Started" - Black Eyed Peas
"Theme From Rocky" - Bill Conti
ABBA? Really? It's a catchy song, and we understand that the only significance is the title, but even that sounds like a bad pickup line. There's just something about a Swedish pop group that is not presidential.
"Johnny B. Goode" makes a little more sense, but not much. It was based on Chuck Berry's life, and tells of a boy who "never ever learned to read or write so well." The Rocky theme is probably his best bet, as the only lyrics are "Gonna Fly Now," and McCain was endorsed by Sylvester Stallone.
"A Little Less Conversation" - Elvis Presley
"Simple Man" - Lynyrd Skynyrd
"Heart Of Gold" - Neil Young
"More Than A Feeling" - Boston
"Sweet Caroline" - Neil Diamond
"Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey
"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" - BTO
"Such Great Heights" - Postal Service
"Right Now" - Van Halen
Romney is using the remix of "A Little Less Conversation," which provides the Elvis swagger with a contemporary production. A Romney staffer filled us in on the selection: "The song underscores Governor Romney's promise to bring change to a broken Washington. He believes there needs to be more action to address our nation's challenges, with less talk and partisan bickering."
The other songs are simply good tunes, stuff you want on your party playlist. Romney is certainly not a "Simple Man," and it's unlikely that Neil Young would approve of a Republican using his work, but combined with Neil Diamond, Van Halen and The Postal Service, you've got a great little mix.
"Pride (In The Name Of Love)" - U2
"Our Country" - John Mellencamp
"I'll Take You There" - The Staples Singers
"Times Like These" - Foo Fighters
"Land Of Hope And Dreams" - Bruce Springsteen
"A Change Would Do You Good" - Sheryl Crow
"Shining Star" - Earth, Wind & Fire
U2 wrote "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., but it does have that rise-up-and-conquer feel. Mellencamp is a good fit for Edwards, but "Our Country" was appropriated by Chevy, and now we can't stop thinking of Silverados when we hear it. That's the main problem here: we don't think of John Edwards when we hear these songs, as they've been milked for a variety of commercial purposes.
"Rudie Can't Fail" - The Clash
Music from the movie Rudy
"Eye Of The Tiger" - Survivor
"Stand Back" - Stevie Nicks
"Fly Like An Eagle" - Seal
"Life Is A Highway" - Rascal Flatts
"Best Of Both Worlds" - Van Halen
At least he didn't use one of the many songs inspired by 9/11, but he does have some pretty aggressive selections in his set list. In 2000, Giuliani criticized Hillary Clinton for playing "Captain Jack" - with its lyrics about drugs and masturbation - when she announced her run for senate. Someone might want to tell him that in the Clash song, "Rudie" is a "Rude Boy," which is a Jamaican term for a juvenile delinquent that shows up in a lot of punk and reggae music.
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