Parsing president Obama’s mixtape: POTUS on Spotify
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It feels a little funny to judge someone’s musical taste, be it a janitor, a waiter or a legislator, but when the president of the United States offers a look at his re-election campaign’s officIal Spotify playlist, one can’t help but parse the mix and see where the leader of the free world -- and possessor of an impressive Al Green falsetto, it turns out -- is coming from, musically speaking.
On Thursday, Obama’s reelection campaign Tweeted a link to a Spotify mix called ‘2012 Campaign Playlist by barackobama.’ Spotify, for those still living in 2008, is a streaming music service in which subscribers can create and share song playlists among friends and other users. Over the last year the service has become an important -- and hip -- venue for musical discovery.
Just as important, though, it’s a place to impress friends, peers, constituents and voters with your amazing musical taste, which is what the Obama reelection campaign seems to be doing with its first playlist.
‘The official 2012 playlist features picks by the campaign staff, including a few of President Obama’s favorites,’ reads the collection’s description. It features a pretty impressive mix of music that encompasses urban and rural, black and white, male and female.
Concerns: Where are the Latin songs? (Someone had better fix that quick!) Hip-hop isn’t represented. Country vocalist/Hootie and the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker has two tracks, and the great Raphael Saadiq is included. Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ offers confirmation that Obama’s staff is on the cutting edge of the hipster influence continuum, as does the presence of Arcade Fire.
There are fellow Chicagoans Wilco, which the president has long acknowledged as one of his favorite bands and Orange County legends No Doubt. Booker T and the MG’s and their classic Memphis instrumental ‘Green Onions’ sends a message that transcends words, and Curtis Mayfield’s amazing vocal turn with the Impressions on ‘Keep on Pushin’’ is an inspired choice. The campaign shows an affinity for the more outlaw-inspired brand of country with Dierks Bentley and the Zac Brown Band making appearances -- as well as Sugarland (!).
Below, the entire playlist:
No Doubt - ‘Different People’
Earth Wind & Fire Experience feat. Al McKay Allstars - ‘Got to Get You Into My Life’ (Live)
Booker T. & The MG’s - ‘Green Onions’
Wilco - ‘I Got You’
The Impressions - ‘Keep On Pushing’
Jennifer Hudson - ‘Love You I Do’
AgesandAges - ‘No Nostalgia’
Ledisi - ‘Raise Up’
Sugarland - ‘Stand Up’
Darius Rucker - ‘This’
Arcade Fire - ‘We Used to Wait’
Florence + the Machine - ‘You’ve Got the Love’
James Taylor - ‘Your Smiling Face’
REO Speedwagon - ‘Roll With the Changes’
Raphael Saadiq - ‘Keep Marchin’’
Noah and the Whale - ‘Tonight’s the Kind of Night’
Zac Brown Band - ‘Keep Me in Mind’
Aretha Franklin - ‘The Weight’
U2 - ‘Even Better Than the Real Thing’
Dierks Bentley - ‘Home’
Sugarland - ‘Everyday America’
Darius Rucker - ‘Learn to Live’
Al Green - ‘Let’s Stay Together’
Electric Light Orchestra - ‘Mr. Blue Sky’
Montgomery Gentry - ‘My Town’
Ricky Martin - ‘The Best Thing About Me Is You’ (feat. Joss Stone)
Ray LaMontagne - ‘You Are the Best Thing’
Bruce Springsteen - ‘We Take Care of Our Own’
-- Randall Roberts
Top photo: President Barack Obama reaches out to shake hands after giving his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2012. Credit: Susan Walsh / Associated Press