If there's one thing professional wrestlers, relief pitchers and politicians have in common, it's knowing that a well-chosen theme song can say more about who you are and what you believe in than a thousand speeches. As Michael Scherer noted in Video Dog last week, Hillary Clinton has turned to the public to help make sure she picks the perfect song for her presidential campaign. The nine possible choices are listed on Clinton's Web site, but to help you make an informed vote, Audiofile has provided critical commentary for each song on Clinton's list. Feel free to post additional analysis and alternative song suggestions in the comments section.
"City of Blinding Lights," U2
The idea behind this song is that Clinton is our guide to the "City of Blinding Lights" -- a place where she still "looks beautiful" (i.e., remains innocent) in spite of all the "neon hearts" and "day-glo eyes" (i.e., corruption). And don't discount the Bono factor: Bono is a famous humanitarian and rock star. Bono sings this song. Clinton presumably likes this song. Ergo, in the minds of voters, Clinton is a famous humanitarian and rock star too.
"Suddenly I See," KT Tunstall
Clinton as ideal woman. "She's a beautiful girl"; "everything around her is a silver pool of light"; "she holds you captivated in the palm of her hand." The song also wins points for being the only one on the list by an artist whose recording career began in the 21st century. But what are we to make of the song's frequent appearances on soundtracks and commercials? Is Clinton a sellout or a clear-eyed pragmatist? Either way, including a song that sounds like it could sell everything from digital cameras to tampons makes the case for a candidate with broad appeal.
"I'm a Believer," Smash Mouth
A fun, fuzzy blast of beach-ball rock and a subtle shout-out to the "values voter." You don't have to be a Bible scholar to catch the religious undertones of this tune: "And then I saw her face (the Virgin Mary's)/ Now I'm a believer (a true Christian)/ Not a trace/ of doubt in my mind (the Bible is literal truth)." But Clinton is ecumenical in her musical taste -- the song was penned by Neil Diamond, a Jew. The other important thing to note is that this version of the song came to prominence when it was used in the first "Shrek" film, which, along with its two sequels, has made a boatload of cash. Notice also that Shrek is green, the color of money. These facts allude to both Clinton's impressive war chest and her responsible financial sense.
"Get Ready," the Temptations
"I never met a girl who makes me feel the way that you do." A snarky slap in the face to Republican Hillary haters? Consider this song the "Big Chill" choice, chosen to conjure up some pleasant baby boomer associations. And apart from being a generational signifier, this Temptations classic -- if correctly understood as being sung from the perspective of one of her constituents -- attests to Clinton's impressive legislative efforts ("Whenever I'm asked who makes my dreams come true/ I say that you do") and her ability to inspire affection ("I'm gonna try to make you love me too").
"Ready to Run," Dixie Chicks
Given that this song is a bit of a slow burner compared with the other choices, we must interpret its inclusion as being largely a result of the Dixie Chicks' status as free-speech, anti-Bush icons. The title makes it a really obvious choice too. It's a fine song, with a nice Irish lilt to it (Kennedy allusion?), but the main message -- aside from preparedness -- is that like the rest of non-right-wing-nut America, Clinton thinks the Dixie Chicks are awesome.
"Rock This Country," Shania Twain
The main selling point here is the song's nicely inclusive geographic sense: "From Utah to Texas/ Minnesota, Mississippi too/ Or Nevada, no matter where you live/ this song is for you." Clinton is for all Americans, not just East Coast liberals and granola-eating Californians. There's also a fun line in the chorus about going "psycho" -- a firm riposte to those who've criticized Clinton's cool, calm and collected public demeanor. Last, but not least, Twain is Canadian, making her inclusion a respectful nod to our friendly neighbors to the north.
"Beautiful Day," U2
Out of nine songs, having two selections from U2 shows some serious resolve. No traditional one-song-per-artist constraints for this candidate! Now that Bono has assumed Mother Teresa's mantle as the world's most benevolent human, it's easy to forget that when this song came out in 2000, it helped put U2 back on track after the poorly received "Pop" album and tour. As such, it carries a residual comeback vibe that works well for a Democratic candidate. The optimism of the song is also a big plus, as is the way the lyric "See China right in front of you" points out Clinton's keen attunement to Sino-American relations and China's burgeoning role on the global stage.
"Right Here, Right Now," Jesus Jones
Don't confuse this song with the old Van Hagar chestnut "Right Now," which in the past has been used as entrance music by George W. Bush. This early-'90s classic has lyrics that testify to the importance of the current geopolitical moment: "Right here, right now/ there is nowhere I'd rather be/ right here, right now/ watching the world wake up from history." Originally recorded in 1991, the song also serves as an aural reminder of the heady days of Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign, Super Nintendo and Zubaz pants.
"I'll Take You There," the Staples Singers
This 1972 hit aims to cement Clinton's status as a candidate concerned with the oft-overlooked struggles of black Americans. The great Staples Singers came out of the '60s civil rights movement; the lyrics suggest that Clinton will take us to a place where there "ain't no smilin' faces/ lyin' to the races"; and the song has a hot, sanctified Mavis Staples vocal. It's also the funkiest and most "down-home" of the song choices -- because Hillary's a regular person too.
-- David Marchese