This week, we are exploring the Republican candidates and their relationship to music: the music they like; the music they play at their events; the music that has been written about them; the music that is unfortunately associated with them. We call it Grand Old Party Jams.
In between Ted Cruz's announcement that he is running for President back in March until Jim Gilmore's similar announcement last month, the Republican field rapidly expanded to include 15 other names.
Who should you vote for? How do you choose? We decided to help out undecided voters by ranking these candidates using the only fair metric we have at our disposal: the songs that played at their campaign kick-off events, and how good they were.
Candidates' names are linked to CSPAN footage of events.
16. Donald Trump
There's a lot of people sayin'/
we'd be better off dead/
Don't feel like Satan/
but I am to them/
So I try to forget it/
any way I can.
The chorus of "Keep on rockin' in the free world" is extremely sarcastic. In the second verse, Young paints a grim picture of a mother leaving her baby in a garbage can so she can go and score drugs and it immediately goes into the chorus. This is not a rockin' world. This is like couples who use the U2 song "One" as their wedding song. Always listen to the lyrics!
Sample Lyric: So lose an inhibition, follow your intuition, free your inner soul and break away from tradition.
This is a bad song, Gov. Pataki. No one has actually enjoyed this song since about 2005, and even then, they were probably so drunk on Four Loko that it doesn't even count. Not only is "Let's Get It Started" bad, it was originally released as "Let's Get Retarded," an offensively titled song about substance abuse. Not a good look.
Sample Lyric: Operator won't you put me on through/I gotta send my love down to Baton Rouge
You know who doesn't put official videos on YouTube for some reason? Garth Brooks. You know who was already bad? Garth Brooks.
Jindal has already called on Baton Rouge (and Louisiana as a whole) to get elected governor of that fair state. In other words: A song about "Baton Rouge" is a good song to run for elected office in…Baton Rouge. He would have had a lot more success with some Mike + the Mechanics.
13. Ted Cruz
Sample Lyric: Yeah, I've seen enough to know that we've got it good/Where the stars and stripes and the eagle fly
This song is called "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly" and it is about comin' from an extraordinary place, by God's good grace, where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly. (Editor's note: America). The gist of this song is that Aaron Tippin is from The United States of America and if you have a problem with him pledging allegiance to its flag, hey, that is your problem, buddy, and you have a right to have that problem in this fair land. In other words, this song is about how America has already been, currently is, and will continue to be great. Not exactly what Cruz has been saying.
Sample Lyric: When life is a bitter pill to swallow/You gotta hold on to what you believe
The video for this Bon Jovi jammer is full of b-roll of real renegades and inspirational figures like the Space Shuttle astronauts, Princess Di, and Lance Armstrong: American heroes all.
Christie only chose this song because the milquetoast lyrics are very ignorable—Sambora's solo is decent, though—and because Bruce Springsteen always tells him to stop using his songs.
However, the lyrics definitely work for Christie and get his message across. We just wish Christie and Springsteen could hug and make up.
Sample Lyric: If we're taking on the world today/I know we gotta leave this town/I don't want it to be the way they want it.
“Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes was played at one point during this event, which is weird because that's a Detroit band and aren't Michigan and Ohio supposed to be mad at each other all the time?
Anyway, as Kasich came out, "This Town" by a band called Of A Revolution came on. Kasich has undoubtedly locked up the high-school-students-in-2003-who-aren't-really-sure-what-this-protest-is-about vote. Wrap yourself in a hemp blanket, round up your hackeysack circle, and vote Kasich!
Sample Lyric: I see the dawn of a new beginning/I hear the streets of tomorrow calling/We belong to something new
This song is lame as all get out, but the lyrics are perfectly suited for some post-speech pumping-up. There is also a part about kissing a higher power, which feels VERY on brand.
Sample Lyric: Gimme gimme gimme gimme yeah
First things first, Walker is the only candidate who was bright enough to have “Isn’t She lovely” play as his wife came out to speak about him. That's Campaign Speech 101.
But "Life Is A Highway?" And Rascal Flatts' cover? Tom Cochrane's original is plenty corny enough, but it's fun. Rascal Flatts take the corniness and ramp it up several notches without really adding anything. Also, it was recorded for the Cars soundtrack.
Rascal Flatts is from Ohio. Columbus, to be exact. Tom Cochrane is from Manitoba. Who's really more country?
Score: 6/10 (five points for the Stevie Wonder layup)
Sample lyrics: Feels so good to be taking it easy/Why would I ever leave?/‘Cause I know
Small towns: they feel like home! This is a genius piece of maneuvering by Jeb. Just look at those lyrics and what they mean here: Jeb knows he's got it great, but he also knows that the country needs him!
Points deducted because this song might be about growing a marijuana crop.
7. Rick Santorum
Song: “Take Back America (Unleash Your Pride)" by an unknown hero
Sample Lyric: This is for the preachers, the teachers, blue collar warriors, this is for believers whose dream are on the line"
This song is phenomenal. It beautifully sets the stakes for the country whether Santorum is elected or not. This song should be playing at every barbecue this summer, and for every summer afterward.
Score: 7/10 (point deducted because you can only get full version by donating to campaign)
Sample Lyric: N/A
Rand Paul's operations team got it mostly right. Yes, at one point they played "Uptown Funk," but they also confusedly played "Enter Sandman."
But a nine-minute funk-rock instrumental? Who does that?? Maybe this Rand Paul guy isn't playing a part. Maybe he is the outside-the-box thinker that Washington needs.
Sample Lyric: Wo! I feel nice, like sugar and spice
Lindsey Graham raced out to a strong start by choosing a great song. He then immediately followed it with a speech about how his parents died young and how radical Islam will be the death of us all. At least the song was good!
Sample Lyric: “Give me my right to vote/My right to tote/The weapon of my choice, don’t censor my voice.
This is a NEW version of Colt Ford's defiant anthem about answering to no one, except God up above. There's a rap part about gun ownership now! Also, it is ridiculous and loud and inscrutable and catchy and I sorta like but with a mega-dose of irony. Just like Rick Perry.
Sample Lyric: Don't you dare go runnin' down my little town where I grew up/And I won't cuss your city lights
The video for "Where I Come From" by Kentucky-based Montgomery Gentry is about soldiers fighting…somewhere. The video is weird because the song itself is about small town values like living your life a little slower than the big city folk, getting rich without going to school—so you can buy a stranger's car on a whim—and getting into a fight in a parking lot and not having to worry about anyone calling the police.
Huckabee deserves credit for steering into the skid with gusto.
Sample Lyric: There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti
A gospel choir in Detroit singing Eminem? This is great. When you think Ben Carson's campaign, think "gospel" and "vomit." Nailed it
1. Candidate: Carly Fiorina
Song: "Bumper Music From a Clinton Campaign Ad"
Sample Lyric: N/A
Song of the summer.
David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on Fusion.net—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org