Revelations from politicians' Spotify playlists: Paul Ryan digs Darius Rucker, Darrell Issa thinks Shaq is a good rapper

We can learn a lot about pols from their Spotify playlists. But how the hell did Neon Trees get on Orrin Hatch's?

Published April 11, 2016 8:47PM (EDT)

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Have you ever wondered what Paul Ryan listens to while he pumps iron? Me neither, but thanks to Spotify, we now know that the House speaker is the only person on Earth who still looks forward to hearing Metallica's "Enter Sandman," one of the most overplayed song of all time.

On Sunday, the music streaming service released "Capital Tunes" playlists containing the favorite songs of 20 senators and house members. Below are some highlights and lowlights of the congressional playlists. Predictably, some of the choices are highly questionable.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI): Oh, Paul Ryan. You can't blame him for playing it safe with his list. After the New York Times reported on Ryan's love of the leftist rock band Rage Against the Machine in 2012, Rage guitarist Tom Morello responded with a scathing Rolling Stone op-ed in which he called Ryan "the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades." Ryan later meekly walked back his position on the band, claiming, "I hate the lyrics, but I like the sound."

It should come as no surprise, then, that Rage Against the Machine is nowhere to be found on Ryan's Spotify playlist, which reads like the diary of someone who doesn't really listen to music. Every single song on the list is a single or radio staple. Rush and solo Paul McCartney tracks back up Ryan's dorky image, and Darius Rucker's "Wagon Wheel" owns the distinction of being the most annoying song on any politician's playlist — no small task.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): Booker's 101(!) song playlist tries to please everybody, which probably makes sense for a politician that many suspect of having presidential ambitions. Unfortunately, the former Newark mayor's choices cross the line from eclectic to schizophrenic, with a bizarre range of entries including 2PAC, John Denver, Alicia Keys, Barbra Streisand, Katy Perry, Eminem, Billy Joel and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (along with the mandatory-for-Jersey-politicians prostration before the altar of Bruce Springsteen). It's OK to take a stand for something, senator.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): OK, some of this list — Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett — sounds like stuff an 82-year-old senator would actually like listening to. Unfortunately, Hatch's list is spiced up with choices that scream, "A 40-year-old aide put this here because he (incorrectly) thought that it sounded hip." Is Hatch really listening to Imagine Dragons and Neon Trees? Doubtful, but that's less embarassing than the idea that someone thought those bands would make Hatch seem cool.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA): Cantwell's Washington-themed playlist is among the strongest entries on the board. Evergreen State natives make up the bulk of the decades-spanning list, with highlights including The Sonics, Jimi Hendrix, Heart, Pearl Jam, Sleater-Kinney, Modest Mouse and Fleet Foxes.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)The Michigan native makes a strong bid for the coolest musical tastes in Congress with his jazz- and R&B-heavy playlist. Conyers pays tribute to jazz greats John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington, and earns bonus points for his inclusion of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" LP in its near-entirety and Weather Report's fusion classic "Birdland." Conyers also makes sure his Detroit congressional district is well-represented, with tracks from Motown legends Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and The Four Tops.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA): Issa earns street cred among Bob Dylan aficionados for listing fan-favorites "Idiot Wind" and "Changing of the Guards," but all of that goodwill is undone with the baffling inclusion of "What's Up Doc? (Can We Rock)," a rap track from Fu-Schnickens and noted lyricist Shaquille O'Neal. This man is unfit to serve.

(UPDATE: Darrell Issa's office tells Salon that the congressman included"What's Up Doc? (Can We Rock)" in his playlist because the beat includes a sample of a car alarm system produced by Issa's company, Directed Electronics. Shaq's verse also includes a bit of product placement for the brand. Issa isn't the richest man in Congress for nothing.)

By Michael Garofalo

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Cory Booker Darrell Issa John Conyers Paul Ryan Shaquille O'neal Spotify