Complete Guide to the 2016 Candidates’ Favorite Music
There was a time when it was adventurous for a U.S. president to like George Gershwin, as Harry Truman did when he wanted a break from his usual favorites, Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin. Those days are long gone: The current crop of Democratic and Republican presidential candidates like everything from 2pac’s “California Love” to Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” to Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”
But how deep do they go when it comes to being music fans? Rolling Stone reached out to all the major candidates, conducting new interviews, examining rally playlists and digging deep into their musical history to find out. Some of what we discovered was predictable (Ted Cruz claims he “didn’t like how rock music responded” to the 9/11 attacks and turned to country), and some of it was surprising (Mike Huckabee will talk your ear off about Grand Funk Railroad).
But all this information is of the utmost importance to the country, with potential ramifications for inaugruation talent bookings, Kennedy Center Honors, White House gigs, and much more. So read closely, voters!
Like most in her generation, Clinton grew up with classic rock: “The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Who and the Doors,” she said recently, “all of that, plus I like classical music because I find it relaxing when I’m thinking about stressful things.” During college, she was dancing to Elvis and Supremes songs.
Clinton has praised female acts from Loretta Lynn to Selena Gomez, Lana Del Rey and Lady Gaga. In a recent essay for Billboard‘s Women in Music issue, Clinton wrote that these women are “the best at what they do, whether that’s fronting a raucous soul band, writing hypnotic dance anthems, unspooling intricate rap lyrics about female empowerment or crooning ballads about heartbreak and young love.” Clinton also recently gave props to Beyoncé. “You see her on TV, it’s impressive. You see her in person, you’re just stunned, thinking like, ‘How does she do that?’ Really. I mean, she sings, she’s up, she’s down. It’s just amazing. I want to be as good a president as Beyoncé is a performer.”
At her campaign stops, Clinton’s camp plays the same lineup of 13 songs: Latin pop (Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud,” Marc Anthony’s “Vivir Mi Vida”), pop (Katy Perry’s “Roar,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger,” Sara Bareilles’ “Brave”), fist-pumping modern rock (American Authors’ “Best Day of My Life” and “Believer,” Gym Class Heroes’ “The Fighter”). If the list sounds focus-grouped, it may have been: Clinton’s campaign paid $90,000 to a consulting firm in Portland, Oregon, to help compile the list. [Update: A rep from Clinton’s campaign says they pick the music for the rallies themselves but paid a Portland consulting firm $9,000 to use music from the agency’s library for Clinton’s web videos.]
In Michael D’Antonio’s recent bio Never Enough, Trump claimed he gave a music teacher a black eye in second grade, saying, “I didn’t think she knew anything about music.”