It's not the most pressing issue in this presidential campaign, but both the Republican and Democratic candidates have a problem with music. Donald Trump has spent his entire presidency using songs without the permission of most artists. Joe Biden isn't quite as problematic — his choice of campaign-centric music is just mostly uninspired.
Since we can't do much about their respective politics, here's a few suggestions for new music for the Trump and Biden campaigns. We can't promise any of these artists will give legal consent, but these songs would better capture the spirit of both men and what they offer as world leaders. For better or worse.
Icona Pop, "I Love It"
With their 2016 summer smash hit, Icona Pop distilled brattiness to its essence. This is a song for those who recognize any personal shortcomings and tribulations only to turn away for the momentary rush of feeling good. It's the sonic equivalent of yelling "YOLO!" or pretending like life's problems will magically solve themselves. Never before has a song encapsulated the entire Trump base so brilliantly (and with such killer hooks).
Pitbull, "Bad Man"
Is the title a little heavy-handed for this list? Sure. But it’s also a song about casting yourself as both a suave ladies' man and heavenly paladin of greatness, which feels perfectly Trump-ian. It's also about actively embracing just how big of a jerk people think you've become. Plus, the presence of both Joe Perry and Robin Thicke somehow enhances Pitbull's awful swagger while making him appear halfway decent. Genius!
Elton John, "I'm Still Standing"
How many times in the last four years have we, the sane and reasonable of America, collectively thought, "This is the scandal that finally brings down Trump," only for bupkis to happen? This tune serves as the ultimate celebration for Trump, and a chance for him to thumb his nose at all the haters. But then he’d be missing the point (as usual): Sure he’s standing tall, but the whole world is changing around him every single day.
The Beatles, "Taxman"
Okay, increased taxes and Republicans don’t generally mix. (That is, unless it's to help out their wealthy backers and donors.) But it’s less about the message and more about Trump having a chance to a. own the libtards and b. further mutilate the legacy of something people actually love. Plus, if his tax returns are finally released, they could cue up footage from this song at some event and we'd all savor the endless irony.
Ted Nugent, "Fred Bear"
There is perhaps no more fitting musical accompaniment to any Trump event or promotional piece than rocker Ted Nugent. He’s an outdated, self-absorbed nightmare who rose to fame on a bad gimmick and the applause of silly ninnies everywhere. But this song in particular feels like a perfect choice: a seven-minute, overly indulgent ode to your hunting buddy from some fantasy version of the U.S.A. Blergh.
MisterWives, "Best I Can Do"
Here’s a song where the title feels like a perfect encapsulation of both Biden and his reluctant supporters. On the one hand, it's about a lover trying their best to appease someone who will always remain unsatisfied. At the same time, it might also be about actively settling for this mediocre life of half-cocked happiness. It's so fitting for Biden's America that it almost feels poetic — if it didn't also make us want to weep openly.
Big Tymers, "Still Fly"
Biden’s camp have pushed a few different messages in recent months, including how he can heal America and that we’re already in a war for the nation’s spirit. But ol’ Joe needs to remind folks that he’s still hip and sharp. Luckily, there’s no better choice for that mission than this celebratory jam that was even hackneyed and super dated when it dropped back in 2002. In the eternal words of Birdman himself, it’s our turn, baby.
Randy Newman, "You Got a Friend in Me"
In the proper context, this Randy Newman gem is a powerful and poignant meditation on the simple wonders of friendship. In the context of a Joe Biden campaign, it would feel deeply out of touch to the point of being physically uncomfortable. But then that’s sort of the point, and Biden’s always going to cling to some hokey ideas of friendship and unity. Get used to this awkward struggle to infinity and beyond.
Carly Rae Jepsen, "I Really Like You"
If there’s one utterly essential observation from the Biden campaign, it’s just how badly he wants to be loved. But forget all the hand-holding videos or praise from Barack Obama; you just need this 2015 pop smash. It’s bright and cheery, endearing to the point of pure annoyance, and seems to repeat the same message again and again. Forget rallies and videos; play this barn-burner at the inauguration.
Jay-Z, "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)"
Yes, this 2009 Jay-Z single is, effectively, about smashing what’s new in favor of the reliable classics. But that’s not necessarily what the Biden campaign is all about. Still, at least this particular song choice is a. pretty cool and b. connects Biden even more to Obama, a noted Hov devotee. If absolutely nothing else, it sure beats Biden’s continued use of Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher," which just feels underwhelming.
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