February 10, 2012


Which Newspaper Hates Obama's Spotify Playlist?

Scott Olson
Scott Olson

As we mentioned yesterday, President Obama recently released a fun, fascinating Spotfiy playlist as a small part of his campaign to retain his high profile day job.

It's an eclectic, enjoyable list of songs that includes everything from Arcade Fire to Sugarland to Ricky Martin to the Dreamgirls soundtrack. But apparently some detractors at the Washington Post won't even let our commander-in-chief have this small mixtape victory—but the joke's on them, because their attempted take-down of his playlist makes them look like pedantic old fogies. 

Calling it "herky-jerky" and a "mixed bag," the Post's music critic Chris Richards tries to cast the playlist's eclecticism as a weakness. Sure, Florence + the Machine and Montgomery Gentry are worlds apart (or at least an ocean apart), but it's a stretch to say they "bristle up against" each other. After all, this is the iPod era: people are apt to switch from Lil Wayne to Neil Diamond at a moment's notice. 

And what's up with his dismissive comments toward ELO? "For some reason, there's an Electric Light Orchestra song," he writes. Excuse me, sir, but the inclusion of the joyous "Mr. Blue Sky" needs no explanation—in fact, it makes perfect sense lyrically in the context of a presidential campaign. Hell, I can't think of one reason why I shouldn't be listening to "Mr. Blue Sky" right now.

There's even a dismissive aside about the Arcade Fire because they're "actually from Canada." Canada? Well, that's the last straw! How dare President Obama outsource his musical taste when American bands are struggling to make ends meet in this downed economy?

At the very least, the songs included by the Obama campaign—staff members picked these tunes, not the otherwise-occupied president—are thoughtful and appropriate given his history and policies.

And that's something you can't say about most politicians and the music they attempt to align with their campaign. One of my favorite examples: When campaigning for president in 2000, George Bush said John Fogerty's "Centerfield" was his favorite song because he identified with the line, "Put me in coach / I'm ready to play." Clearly, Bush wasn't aware that Fogerty's biting CCR hit "Fortunate Son" might as well have been written about him. At the very least, that's the kind of forehead-smacking irony that Obama knows enough to avoid.