Thursday, October 2, 2008

If We Voted According to Musical Taste

There is one area of information about our presidential candidates that the media has not considered deeply enough - their musical tastes. You are thinking I'm approaching this topic because I spend my entire day submerged in music and its effects on culture, but stop and consider how we use music. Often we define ourselves according to music. Your friends generally have similar musical tastes to your own. You dress according to the culture into which you enter musically as well. If I throw out musical styles - country, hip-hop, classical, techno - your mind immediately conjures up the way people whose preferences lend towards those styles dress. I often joke to my class that Schoolhouse Rock got it wrong: we aren't what we eat, we're what we listen to.

With that in mind, I was pleased to see that Blender magazine compiled a list of the candidate's top ten songs:

Barack Obama’s top 10
The Fugees ‘Ready or Not’
Marvin Gaye ‘What's Going On’
Bruce Springsteen ‘I'm On Fire’
Rolling Stones ‘Gimme Shelter’
Nina Simone ‘Sinnerman’
Kanye West ‘Touch the Sky’
Frank Sinatra ‘You'd Be So Easy to Love’
Aretha Franklin ‘Think’
U2 ‘City of Blinding Lights’ ‘Yes We Can’

John McCain’s top 10
Abba ‘Dancing Queen’
Roy Orbison ‘Blue Bayou’
Abba ‘Take a Chance On Me’
Merle Haggard ‘If We Make It Through December’
Dooley Wilson ‘As Time Goes By’
The Beach Boys ‘Good Vibrations’
Louis Armstrong ‘What A Wonderful World’
Frank Sinatra ‘I've Got You Under My Skin’
Neil Diamond ‘Sweet Caroline’
The Platters ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’

The inclusion of R&B and classic rock on Obama's list, but a few things stood out to me about McCain's. First of all is the inclusion of not one, but two ABBA songs. Two! And the second is that those ABBA songs are the most recent on his playlist. For a man currently trying to appeal to young voters, this list is not good.

But then, Obama's list isn't that grand either. Sure he's got a few powerful tracks, but Nina Simone? Sure is younger than any song on McCain's list, but his music isn't that striking and his inclusion must be because Obama inspired the song. No props for including songs about you unless you also put Ludacris's "Politics: Obama Is Here."

That leaves us with the VP candidates to help us make up our mind, and since Sarah Palin is so new, this is all I can find that describes her musical choices, her talent portion from the Miss Alaska competition:

That's right, the only information I can find is that James Galway is her favorite artist.

Does this change your vote? Probably not, but I think it does give insight into the thoughts and mindsets of the candidates.

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