Obama's favorite lyricist: Obama?

Barack Obama and John McCain pick their favorite tunes. A will.i.am one on Obama's list might seem familiar.

Published August 14, 2008 10:43PM (EDT)

The press was rightly mocked in 2000 for harping on the idea that George W. Bush was someone an average voter might want to have a beer with (while Al Gore presumably wasn't). This time around, the candidates themselves are trying to show who'd be more fun if you left them in charge of the iPod while you had that beer.

In the latest issue of Blender magazine, Obama and McCain each provide a 10-song playlist of their favorite music. Neither one of them is really on the cutting edge, but at least Obama's list isn't 20 percent ABBA. Besides McCain's Swedish pop addition, both of them seem pretty firmly rooted in their generational tastes -- early R&B, early rock and pop country for McCain (the Platters, Roy Orbison, the Beach Boys), slightly more eclectic hip-hop, soul and rock from after the late '60s for Obama (the Fugees, Marvin Gaye, Bruce Springsteen).

One selection on Obama's list does stand out, though. Coming in at No. 10 on the Obama chart, "Yes We Can" by will.i.am isn't actually a pop song but, rather, the soundtrack from a pro-Obama viral video produced by the Black Eyed Peas headman earlier this year. One reason Obama may like it -- he's the lyricist; the words match up with the text of the speech he gave after losing the New Hampshire primary way back on Jan. 8.

And while it's refreshing to think Obama's campaign might not have thought through the political implications of the playlist before submitting it to Blender, you do sort of have to wonder -- is that song really the best one to include when the McCain campaign's entire theory of the election lately is that Obama believes his own hype?

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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Barack Obama John Mccain R-ariz.