Candidates' Theme Songs Set Campaign Tone

"I like Frank Sinatra. My wife is incredibly embarrassed that I would say that I like Abba! Nobody likes Abba, everybody dislikes Abba but they've sold more records than anybody in the history of music."

In an early online contest Clinton supporters chose Celine Dion's "You and I" as her campaign theme song, but the campaign hasn't played that in months.

Recently Clinton has been closing with Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin Care of Business" at the end of her rallies and more sporadically, Gloria Estefan's "Get on Your Feet."

Her campaign, which has highlighted her historic campaign in its pitch to women voters, has been playing "9 to 5," Dolly Parton's 1980s women workers' lament of the proverbial glass ceiling: "Workin 9 to 5/What a way to make a livin?/Want to move ahead/But the boss won't seem to let me in/I swear sometimes that man is out to get me."

"Clinton is using a lot of female singers and female-themed songs and it may solidify her base of female supporters," said Bernie Heidkamp, contributing editor of PopPolitics.com, an online blog that examines the intersection between politics and popular culture.

Some songs are picked to give a candidate extra pizzazz.

Rolling Stone's Hiatt said that one of the best campaign theme songs was 2004 Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry's use of Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender."

"It obviously wasn't good enough to get him elected but — maybe it provides something the candidates can't provide in their own speech or in their own presentation, and that was one song that was exciting, which John Kerry was not," Hiatt said.

Springsteen's songs are a favorite on the campaign trail. Before he dropped out of the 2008 race, former Sen. John Edwards, who campaigned on an anti-poverty message, used Springsteen's song "The Rising" with the stirring lyrics: "Come on up for the rising/Come on up, lay your hands in mine/Come on up for the rising."

However the candidates' message rarely merges with the artist's intended message. Springsteen has said "The Rising" album was about the Sept. 11 tragedy.

Campaign Song Controversies

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee has followed the well-worn Republican path of using seemingly patriotic songs.

In 2004, George W. Bush's campaign theme song was the cowboy country tune "Only in America" by Brooks and Dunn.

Huckabee's campaign sometimes plays Bon Jovi's "Who Says You Can't Go Home," John Mellancamp's "Ain't That America," Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" and even Springsteen's "Born in the USA" — a song that is frequently mistaken as a patriotic ode. It's actually about the struggles faced by Vietnam veterans when they returned home.

During the 1984 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan used "Born in the USA" and Springsteen, an ardent Democrat who campaigned against George W. Bush's re-election in 2004, demanded he stop.

"In general, Republican candidates should probably lay off 'Born in the USA,'" Hiatt said. "I can't believe that memo hasn't gotten through yet."

'High Hopes'

Years ago candidates hired songwriters to come up with original, or semi-original songs.

Grover Cleveland, the first Democrat elected after the Civil War, and his running mate Adlai Stevenson had the song " Hurrah, Hurrah for Cleve and Steve."

Franklin D. Roosevelt's official campaign song was "Row, Row, Row With Roosevelt" but the song "Happy Days Are Here Again" — written for a film — quickly became the lyrical symbol of FDR's promise of a New Deal.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...