Campaign jams: Review of candidates’ rally playlists

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By: Kristin Helf, Columnist

With the 2016 election ahead of us, it’s impossible to ignore the heated political debates, smack-talk and rally cries that have lately served as background noise to our everyday lives. Turn on any news channel and it’s more than likely that some talking head will be discussing political strategy—and in American politics, even the most seemingly insignificant aspects of a campaign are meticulously arranged.

Take music, for example. At every campaign event, a hyper-curated playlist sounds while the candidate’s audience waits for them to take the stage, and likewise follows them off.

Music has the power to seep into our unconscious and send certain messages to our brains, even when we’re not actively listening. It’s no surprise that most politicians take advantage of this. After all, they are in the business of using anything that will give them an advantage in the polls.

Today, potential nominees for the upcoming election use the songs on their playlists to give voters insight as to what their values are and what they stand for. Eight years ago, president Obama used will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” during his candidacy. Former president Bill Clinton liked to walk onstage to Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop.”

So what kind of music are our candidates today having us jam out to?

Hillary Clinton’s playlist is personally my least favorite, but it does its job in conveying Clinton to be the strong woman that she is. She marches to pseudo-inspirational pop songs including Sara Bareilles’ commercial hit “Brave” (literally, that song must be in every car commercial on television), Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” and “Roar” by Katy Perry.

The music of Bernie Sander’s campaign reflects his unregimented revolutionary outlook, with songs like “Power to the People” by John Lennon, “Talkin ‘Bout a Revolution” by Tracy Chapman and “The Revolution Starts Now” by Steve Earle. Reportedly, following the death of David Bowie, Sanders also took to playing Bowie’s “Starman.”

As for the republicans, Ted Cruz, good Christian boy that he is, likes to play country music and Christian rock. Marco Rubio has a similar affinity for country music and additionally, according to the Guardian’s Amber Jamieson, “[his] beats reflect a young Latino man who grew up in Miami more than they do a conservative Republican, with Flo Rida, the Black Eyed Peas and Calvin Harris all on regular rotation.”

As for Donald Trump, his song choices are just as unpredictable as the words that come out of his mouth. From the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” to the Hulk Hogan Theme Song, to an Italian-sung “Nessun Dorma,” which the Guardian’s Dan Roberts calls “unrepentantly fascist,” and compares to the ambience one would expect at a Benito Mussolini rally. Interesting.

Overall, the music choices could tell us more about our presidential candidates than we think. After all, despite all of the campaign directors that nitpick every aspect of their candidate’s appearance, the musical tastes of these competitors could say a lot about their values and personality.

If the sole embodiment of a candidate lay within their taste in music, I’d (still) be Sanders all the way: I’m all for the hippie 60s tunes and, of course, the David Bowie. Donald Trump would probably confuse me the most but that, too, isn’t much different than what the typical college student’s reaction to him already is.

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