Spotify has been available to the general public in the United States for just over a year now, which means that this is the first Presidential Election to have access to the new music streaming software. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney set up Spotify playlists to accompany their campaigns.
Obama was first to get on Spotify, making his campaign playlist back in February. The songs were carefully chosen by his team to represent his campaign. The playlist now contains more than 40 songs featuring a wide variety of artists from many different genres, including Earth, Wind & Fire, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, and Beyoncé. Generally, the messages are patriotic, upbeat, and easy to understand. He pledges his allegiance to the people (Wilco – “I Got You” and Ray LaMontagne – “You Are The Best Thing”) and petitions for his next term (Al Green – “Let’s Stay Together” and REO Speedwagon – “Roll With The Changes”).
My favorite selection is Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song.” The story behind the song and Obama’s ethics match perfectly. When Bareilles was starting her career, her record label rejected her songs and told her that she needed to write a marketable love song. Instead she went home and wrote, “I’m not gonna write you a love song, cause you ask for it, cause you need one.” Ironically, her anti love song fulfilled the request of her record label and sprung her to the top of the charts. During the campaign, Obama has not sacrificed his morals by just telling the American people what they want to hear. Instead, he has laid out the facts and what he really intends to do as President. I’m sure he’s also hoping to follow in the footsteps of Bareilles to win the popular vote.
On the other hand, Romney released his Spotify playlist to the public a month after Obama. Unlike Obama’s calculated list, Romney states only that the songs are some of his favorites. As with favorite songs, Romney’s playlist is less diverse, featuring mostly country artists including Tim McGraw, Johnny Cash, and Keith Urban, with Carrie Underwood the only female on the list. It’s evident that these are mostly just songs Romney enjoys because there seems to be no clear message. In fact, I was so surprised with the choice of songs that I had to double check that I had the official playlist and not something some Obama supporter jokester put together.
Where Obama’s intent was to build a coherent message to speak to supporters, Romney’s tactic is to entice people with popular songs. When I looked to see what meaning I could find behind the lyrics, the most apparent message was that Romney’s choices are mostly sarcastic, poking fun at himself in a lighthearted way. Romney’s election race may soon just be a fun time to look back and reminisce on (Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – December, 1963 [Oh What A Night!]) and a dream that he hopes will come true just by wishing (Willie Nelson – “Over the Rainbow,” Nat King Cole – “Stardust,” and Roy Orbison – “In Dreams.”) My guess is that the message of “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” (The Soggy Bottom Boys) and “As Good As I Once Was” (Toby Keith) is probably not the type of person America is looking for as a leader. Or perhaps we just want to elect the “perfect all American girl” (Carrie Underwood).
Each candidate also included his theme song from his celebrity musician supporter: Obama with Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of our Own,” and Romney with Kid Rock’s “Born Free.” Whether or not the people actually like Obama more, they certainly like his musical choices. As of this morning, Obama had 14,739 subscribers to his “2012 Campaign Playlist” and over 70,000 to “Supporter Picks.” Romney still has just one playlist with only 466 subscribers. Check out the playlists: click for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on Spotify. Who will you subscribe to?