Get to know some of the musicians performing for Trump — and remember those who appeared for Obama

Toby Keith and 3 Doors Down are among the listed performers. (Jan. 19, 2017)

Music connects worlds and offers commonality. A harmonic tool of empathy, its melodies transcend borders with the ease of those traversing the wall-less Rio Grande illegally. We may not agree on politics, but we can all agree that AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” rocks particularly hard right now.

Similarly, we may not yet know the words to the Russian national anthem, but one listen to it underscores the beatific majesty of the amazing Vladimir Putin’s beloved homeland.

Still, unlike at President Obama’s two inaugurations, which were crawling with the so-called Hollywood elite, Donald Trump’s big celebration Thursday and Friday features musicians that bubble-residing liberal Californians might have missed while listening to the “highly overrated,” in Trump’s words, soundtrack to “Hamilton.”

This is the town, after all, that has given way too many Oscars to “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” — Trump’s judgment, again — Meryl Streep. And yet the amazing Jon Voight, who endorsed Trump and is appearing at the inauguration, repeatedly gets ignored. Sad!

Below, a primer on some of the musical performers gracing stages at inaugural balls and concerts. For comparison, included are Obama inaugural ball musicians less likely to be celebrating this week. Finally, we’ve included some lyrics that might be used to score the climatic moment in the inevitable Trump biopic.

Beau Davidson

Beau Davidson performs during Republican National Convention in 2012.
Beau Davidson performs during Republican National Convention in 2012. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

This Memphis, Tenn.-born singer is best known for performing his patriotic song “Blessed” on the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Notably, the ballad also appears in the Hallmark Channel movie “The Ultimate Legacy,” about an entitled billionaire heir who must prove his worth to get his inheritance. 

Demographic: Patriotic, flag-waving Americans, especially military veterans.

Key lyrics: “What is courage? What is honor? Are these words or just ideals long forgotten?” — from “Blessed.”

Obama’s Hollywood elite equivalents: Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, Josh Groban, John Legend, James Taylor, Far East Movement.

3 Doors Down

Singer Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down performs in Berlin in 2016.
Singer Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down performs in Berlin in 2016. (Frank Hoensch / Redferns)

The red-state rock band (Escatawpa, Miss.) is best known for its 2000 hit “Kryptonite,” about a strong man who boasts of his “superhuman might” while blaming an unnamed other who “stumbled in and bumped your head — if not for me then you’d be dead.” 

Demographic: Gen-X grunge rockers who, unlike that snowflake Kurt Cobain, understand when it’s time to buck up and face fear like Putin. 

Key lyrics: “I watched the world float to the/ Dark side of the moon/ After all I knew it had to be something/ To do with you/ I really don't mind what happens now and then.” — from “Kryptonite.”

Obama’s Hollywood equivalent: U2, Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, the San Francisco Boys Chorus.

Toby Keith

Toby Keith toasts his fans during the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in 2013.
Toby Keith toasts his fans during the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in 2013. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

An early progenitor of the so-called bro-country movement, the Oklahoma-born Keith is best known for songs such as “Who’s Your Daddy?,” a poetic ode featuring the Trumpian couplet, “I got the money if you got the honey/ Let’s cut a deal let’s make a plan/ Who’s your daddy?” 

Demographic: Rural — real? — Americans who enjoy singing aloud these lines from the song “Beer for My Horses”: “Take all the rope in Texas find a tall oak tree/ Round up all them bad boys hang them high in the street/ For all the people to see.” 

Key lyrics: “I want to talk about me/ Want to talk about I/ Want to talk about number one/ Oh my me my/ What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see/ I like talking about you, you, you usually, but occasionally I wanna talk about me.” —  “I Wanna Talk About Me.”

Obama’s Hollywood equivalent: Garth Brooks, Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Billy Ray Cyrus, Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Sting.

Jackie Evancho

Jackie Evancho performs in Louisville, Kentucky last month.
Jackie Evancho performs in Louisville, Kentucky last month. (Stephen J. Cohen / Getty Images)

She was a runner-up on “America’s Got Talent,” so her appearance at Trump’s inauguration might come as a surprise to many of his admirers. After all, the 16-year-old may have a stunning voice, but she lost the reality show, and by now,  Americans understand how Trump feels about losers. Optimists, however, might find in her booking a ray of forgiving light. 

Demographic: Barron Trump and others who communicate via Snapgram and InstaVine in a computer-reliant American culture that has, according to Trump, “complicated lives very greatly.” 

Key lyrics: “A coat of gold, a coat of red/ A lion still has claws/ And mine are long and sharp, my Lord/ As long and sharp as yours.” — “The Rains of Castamere.” 

Obama’s Hollywood equivalent: Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Nettles, Kelly Clarkson, the “Glee” cast, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Heather Headley, Shakira, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Bettye LaVette. 

Sam Moore

Sam Moore performs in Miami Beach in 2016.
Sam Moore performs in Miami Beach in 2016. (Jason Koerner / Getty Images)

As Sam & Dave, Moore and musical partner Dave Prater scored a long string of hits on the high-flying Memphis label Stax Records. Fans of the comedy “The Blues Brothers” will recognize the song “Hold On, I’m Comin’.”

That movie, which takes place in the very, very, very dangerous city of Chicago, stars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Unfortunately, they are best known for their work with “the boring and unfunny show” “Saturday Night Live” that a certain someone seems to watch often.

Demographic: Baby boomer billionaires. 

Key lyrics: ”Pull them little strings and I'll sing you a song, I'm your puppet/ Make me do right or make me do wrong, I'm your puppet.” — “I’m Your Puppet”

Obama’s Hollywood equivalent: Herbie Hancock, Usher, Stevie Wonder, the Dead,, Jay Z.

For tips, records, snapshots and stories on Los Angeles music culture, follow Randall Roberts on Twitter and Instagram: @liledit. Email:


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