Presidential candidates used to supply snappy songs sung by their supporters
In many countries, they still do. Last year we were in Turkey at the heat of an important campaign. Every single political gathering we came across (and there were many, big and small), featured patriotic songs tailor-made for their candidate, which were heartily belted by the partisan crown.
Part of the reason that kind of thing might have fallen out of fashion in the U.S. is that after World War II and the Cold War, songs of praise of political icons became seen as symbols of brainwashing in the interests of promoting communism or fascism or totalitarianism. Even Trump who doesn’t mind playing to the “dictator-in-a-stadium” trope, or at least not the visuals of it, doesn’t have his own song. Instead he co-opts Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” to open, and the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” to close. (People have puzzled over this choice. We think it’s simple: it’s the heavenly sounding choir that opens and closes the song that gets Trump as close to self-deification as he can without going full gospel.)
Not to say what Trump’s doing is unusual: most modern-day Presidential candidates have appropriated popular songs. Sometimes tailoring the words to their campaign. Like “Hello, Lyndon” for Lyndon Johnson instead of “Hello, Dolly”. Or making them indelibly connected, like “Happy Days Are Here Again” for FDR. But it says a lot that probably the most popular original campaign song (til now, at least) is “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”, which was written for William Henry Harrison’s campaign. And that was only because the title of the song became that campaign’s unforgettable slogan. (Harrison died of pneumonia after just 31 days in office, and was succeeded by Tyler.) If Biden’s song turned into a slogan too, that’d be fine, because he also needs a slogan. Presidents Lincoln and Jackson ran with original songs too.
As a recent article by a curator at the Smithsonian points out, in the 19th century Presidential candidates most of the time didn’t show up at their own political rallies. It was instead a place for supporters to party and have a big sing-along. Which means the campaigns churned out catchy political ditties, which were very often plays on already popular songs that everybody knew already.
These aren’t those times. But these aren’t normal times either. Big press-the-flesh packed-hall events or even whistle-stop rallies are probably out this year.
So what’s a different way of getting people together? Getting them pumped up, in sync, and singing the same tune?
Could be by literally getting them pumped up, in sync, and all singing the same tune. And then they’ll throw in the TikTok dances gratis.
If you got something catchy it’ll catch. It’s gotta be short. Helps if it’s a major supporter or celeb with lots of highly-followed friends.
But we’re not talking about a highly-produced 3 minute streaming video by Lady Gaga or someone like that. Which we’ve found is the direction the brains of the Democratic establishment often run when presented with this kind of idea. They always wanna make things big. No. Small works better now. People have shorter attention spans. And it’s also easier to get something real catchy shared out there if it’s easy and fun to remember.
So gotta be short. Gotta be hip hop probably. That’s the best way to get something real catchy out there. And it’ll be a great (and free!) way of getting Biden some of that internet presence pundits keep complaining he’s way behind Trump on.
Get the hook on everyone’s lips—even not Biden supporters—and you’ve got something. A tune people hum as they’re sanitizing their hands. Sure, Trump will do the same, but he’ll need to put his own mark on it so it won’t be as good (although Kanye’s definitely a wild card in there).
So hire some song or jingle writers and artists and see what they come up with. A lot of them have got a lot of free time on their hands, with clubs shut down and advertising dollars going through the floor. At the same time, those writers and artists have got more professional quality recording equipment in home studios than ever before. So it’ll sound great from the get-go. Produce a bunch. Then just get it out there. Not a big thing. Just let it go where it goes. And maybe it’ll turn into something. Especially in these days when everyone’s disconnected and looking for ways to connect.