Obama and Ellen

A nation dancing to their beat

While Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first presidential candidate to select a preexisting song for his 1932 campaign, this years candidates have playlists. He happened on Happy Days Are Here Again from the 1930 musical Chasing Rainbows due to the need to lighten the mood after a particularly bad speech at the Democratic Convention of ’32.

An inspired choice when you look at some of the ditties written for previous elections. Tippecanoe And Tyler Too’s primary line was that the opposing parties candidate was an “used up man”. John Quincy Adams delightful song Little Know Ye Who’s Coming describes the fire pestilence and plague that will become all those who don’t vote for Adams. Strangely he didn’t get elected and no one suffered too terribly.

Since Roosevelt, the campaign song has been a staple of all elections with the current presidential candidates creating whole playlists to have blasted from their campaign trails as they blaze their way across the nation. Perhaps Obama should dedicate this campaign to John Martyns Bless the Weather after his impeccable handling of the Hurricane Sandy disaster?

So who has chosen what in recent years and has it done anything other than offer bloggers some “light” election news to report on?

2000 Election



[one_half_last]Bush opted for Tom Petty’s Won’t Back Down. Bush did in fact back down when Petty threatened with a lawsuit if he didn’t stop using his song. Just one more in a long line of Republican’s attempting, unsuccessfully, to use liberal artist’s songs without their permission.[/one_half_last]




Gore chose You Aint Seen Nothing Yet by the Bachman Turner Overdrive – the line “it’s something that you’re never gonna forget” certainly rang true when we witnessed the most controversial election in recent history and the ensuing kerfuffle.[/one_half][one_half_last]



 2004 Election

[one_half] [/one_half]



[one_half_last]For his audacious re-election campaign Bush selected Brooks and Dunn’s Only In America. Some might say that only in America could George W. have earned himself a second term![/one_half_last]




John Kerry got Bruce Springsteen’s blessing to use his track No Surrender. Republican candidate Ronald Reagan had failed to secure Springsteen’s blessing for Born in the USA 24 years previous, the irony of the song must’ve been lost on Reagan. The line “There’s a war outside still raging, you say it ain’t ours anymore to win” from No Surrender had a different meaning come election night.[/one_half] [one_half_last] [/one_half_last]


2008 Election

[one_half] [/one_half]



Obama and McCain were lucky this election year as they both had songs hand written for them – Obama had his written by the coolest man in pop music (since MJ went a tad unconventional) will.i.am accompanied by a plethora of equally cool celebrities on Yes We Can. Despite not being officially endorsed by the Democrats it was the unofficial anthem of the Obama election.[/one_half_last]




McCain had handlebar moustache aficionado and country music star John Rich writing his, doing nothing to dispell the stereotype of the average republican voter. Rich who lends his musical talents to various politicians at his fancy created a foot tappin’, cattle wranglin’ ho-down of a campaign song in support of McCain. I think even the most politically inept of us can work out who won that election…[/one_half] [one_half_last] [/one_half_last]


2012 Election

[one_half] [/one_half]


[one_half_last]So here we are in 2012. Mitt Romney has chosen Born Free by Kid Rock perhaps a sly dig at the accusations made of the Obama administrations legislation restricting freedoms under the guise of anti-terror laws, but probably not.[/one_half_last]

Obama has actually not chosen one election song to run with this campaign but selected a playlist (see below) as did Romney (see below also) to accompany the dulcet tones of Mr Rock. The playlists are a pretty dull tour of pop music over the last 50 or so years with nothing out of the ordinary – the usual country rock is dominant as expected.

Perhaps the most surprising, and perhaps telling, thing about the playlists is Obamas omission of Hip Hop, from a self-confessed lover of the genre and a man who is overtly supported by the likes of Jay-Z and Nas this is odd.

The neglect of hip hop though does tell us a lot about the selection of election songs – Choose songs which will keep most Americans tapping their toes and you’re golden, good ol’ time country rock with some patriotic overtones will do nicely.

Is the selection of an election song nothing more than a bit of tradition or is it an attempt to have the nation dancing to your tune even before the election night is over?

Obama’s Election Playlist

Romney’s Election Playlist

Leave a Reply
Related Posts