At rallies and various events across the country, each campaign has picked a walk-out song for when their candidate comes out to greet the crowd.
INSIDER consulted Nolan Gasser, architect of Pandora Radio's Music Genome Project and its original chief musicologist, to read the tea leaves and help extrapolate what voters might take away from 2020 Democratic candidates' walk-out songs.
Gasser, the author of " Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste, " does offer this disclaimer: "While it is dangerous (impossible, really) to assert a direct line between a single song and an individual's personality profile, this is often all they give us."
Since, the 2016 election The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," has been used by President Donald Trump at various rallies (to the band's chagrin). And at least three songs of Katy Perry's discography bring back memories of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's campaign: "Roar," "Rise," and "Fight Song." Perry was a Clinton supporter and performed at the Democratic National Convention (and some argued Perry's songs were able to say things Clinton couldn't on the campaign trail).
"Presidential candidates must cultivate two things: public enthusiasm and a distinct identity. Beyond the content of their speeches, the candidate's 'theme song' offers perhaps the most visceral and immediate means to those exigencies," Gasser said. "Their chosen song is a targeted effort to reflect the personality, style, and vision of the candidate, while at the same offering the crowd a spirited means to welcome him or her to the rally stage."
In reviewing the candidate's song choices, Gasser said some "appear rather poignant and revealing" while others "seem more forced or questionable in their authenticity" or "just odd as either a reflection of personality or as a presidential campaign message."
He pointed out two interesting trends in the song choices:
- With the exception of Marianne Williamson, every female candidate chose a female artist (or a male/female duet in the case of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard), while every male candidate chose a male artist except Julin Castro (who chose a song by the late Tejano singer Selena).
- Two different candidates chose songs by the British punk band The Clash, as well as by that most-American of singers, Bruce Springsteen.
Gasser cautioned that his analysis is "slightly tongue-in-cheek," adding that "rather than pass judgment, or be snarky, I've tried to give the candidates the benefit of the doubt and assume a sincere attempt to convey something revealing, useful, and engaging to voters by virtue of their chosen campaign song."
He offered two lines of analysis for each song: the first is a reflection of the music and musicological discourse of the song; the second is a streamlined summary of the lyrical message.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont: "Power to the People," by John Lennon.
According to Gasser's analysis, Sanders is signaling to voters, "I'm a revolutionary, a firebrand, an innovator; a soulful and fearless leader willing to fight to return 'power to the people'. Unlike others, I'm not afraid to scream: 'we want a revolution' so as to end the days of 'a million workers working for nothing.'"
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts: "9 to 5," by Dolly Parton.
By Gasser's deduction, Warren's song choice tells voters, "I'm gritty, blunt, downhome, and (like Dolly) tough as hell. I too grew up 'working 9 to 5' and 'barely getting by', which is why I'm now fighting to give you a 'better life', and to end once and for all the 'rich man's game.'"
Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana: "High Hopes," by Panic! at the Disco.
"I'm young, energetic, optimistic, a bit unpredictable, and today," Buttigieg's song suggests to voters, according to Gasser. "I'll admit 'it's a little complicated,' but vote for me, and together we'll make ourselves 'something greater;' we'll 'rewrite our history;' and we'll once more have reason for 'high hopes.'"
Sen. Kamala Harris of California: "Work That," by Mary J. Blige.
"I'm hip, vibrant, confident, resilient, optimistic, and a bit old school," Gasser says of Harris' walk-out song. "Don't worry about what folks say about me or you; we are stronger than they think, and if you 'follow me' we'll 'work this thing out' and take the country back."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York: "Good as Hell," by Lizzo.
"I'm contemporary, sassy, defiant, confident, and committed to empower those tired of the current 'bulls---,'" is what Gillibrand's song suggests to voters, Gasser says. "The status quo is saying you're invisible, but join me, and together we'll 'boss up,' do our 'hair toss,' and feel 'good as hell.'"
Former Vice President Joe Biden: "We Take Care of Our Own," by Bruce Springsteen.
"I'm tough, determined, bold, patriotic an average Joe who'll never abandon his compatriots," Biden's song signals to voters, according to Gasser. "Like Springsteen (and Obama), 'I've been lookin' for the map that leads me home;' unlike the current 'cavalry,' I hear the 'bugle blown' to 'take care of our own.'"
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock: "Small Town," by John Mellencamp.
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
"I'm honest, reliable; a straight-shooter who doesn't need to put on airs to show my strength and convictions," Gasser believes Bullock is telling voters. "I 'got nothing against a big town', but I also won't forget 'where it is I come from', and I'll bring that 'small town' strength to lead America.
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey: "Lovely Day," by Bill Withers.
"I'm optimistic, idealistic, spiritually-minded, an old soul, and your calm-in-a-storm candidate,"Booker is signalling to voters, Glasser says. "These days might 'seem impossible to face', but with your votegiving me 'just one look at you'and 'I know it's gonna be a lovely day' once again in America."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota: "The Bullpen," by Dessa.
"I'm fierce, independent, notorious (like RBG), and proudly unconventional," Gasser believes Klobuchar is signalling with her walk-out song. "Some may say I'm 'soft or irrelevant', but like Dessa (also from Minnesota), I've got 'fire in my fist', enough to be the 'china doll' and restore the 'bullpen.'"
Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland: "I've Been Everywhere," by Johnny Cash.
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
"I'm tireless, dedicated, traditional, experienced, and grounded in the history and varied identities of this great and big country," Delaney is telling voters, according to Gassers analaysis. "To prove worthy of your vote, I'll travel from Boston to Charleston to Dayton to Louisiana indeed, to be 'everywhere, man.'"
Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado: "The Rising," by Bruce Springsteen.
"I'm steady, trustworthy, passionate, dedicated, and ready to lead us to a new tomorrow," Bennet seems to be signaling to voters, Gasser says. "If you are willing to 'lay your hands in mine' and move beyond this current 'sky of blackness and sorrow,' then 'come on up' and join me for 'the rising' day in America."
Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas: "Clampdown," by the Clash.
"I'm young, fearless, energetic, shamelessly iconoclastic, and here to fight the 'clampdown' being perpetrated on Americans by selfish politicians," O'Rourke is saying with his song, Gasser believes. "To all 'the young believers', I say: 'anger can be power'; so, vote for me, because I 'know that you can use it.'"
Rep. Eric Swalwell of California: "Caught Up in the Country," by Rodney Atkins.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Swalwell wants voters to feel like, "I'm downhome, even-keeled, passionate, patriotic, and inspired by a vision of endless potential for this country," according to Gasser.
"With your support, we can build 'freedom as far as we can see' and get 'caught up in a country' that once again gives us 'room to breathe,'" Gasser says, analyzing the lyrics.
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee: "Mr. Blue Sky," by Electric Light Orchestra.
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
"I'm dynamic, optimistic, visionary, admittedly old school, and above all passionate about maintaining our clean 'blue sky,'" Gasser says of Inslee's music choice. "We can all wonder 'where did we go wrong' to find ourselves here, but vote for me, and together we'll make it 'a beautiful new day.'"
Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio: "Old Town Road," by Lil Nas X.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images
"I'm soulful, thoughtful, spry, with a uniquely fresh mix of traditional American roots and hip youthful energyneeded now more than ever," Gasser hypothesizes about Ryan's choice. "I'm aiming to 'take my horse' all the way to the White House, so hop aboard as we shake up that 'old town' in DC."
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper: "Good Life," by OneRepublic.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
According to Gasser's analysis, Hickenlooper is telling voters, "I'm upbeat, hopeful, driven, experienced, and in touch with this moment in time. We can wallow in things 'to complain about', like the 'bullshit that don't work now,' but far better if you'll join me to work together to truly build 'a good, good life.'"
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: "Rudie Can't Fail," by the Clash.
"I'm raw, tireless, unpretentious, a man of the streets, and unafraid to mix it up in the often 'rude' and 'reckless' world of politics," Gasser says of de Blasio's choice. "I looked inside to 'realize my soul' to make this decision to run for president, and now, like Rudie, I 'can't fail.'"
Andrew Yang: "Return of the Mack," by Mark Morrison.
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
Here's what Yang wants voters to feel, according to Gasser: "I'm admittedly an odd choice, but I'm confident, hip, unpredictable, and if you give me a chance I'll 'show you that I'm real'. The American voter can rightly say, 'you lied to me,' but now it's time for our 'return,' and to finally 'run the show.'"
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii: "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," by Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye.
AP Photo/Michael Wyke
Of Gabbard's song choice, Gasser hypothesisez she wants voters to feel that she's "fearless, optimistic, a spirit-minded old soul, and undaunted to meet any challenge."
In terms of a lyrical analysis, Gasser says of Gabbard, "When it comes to this country, 'my love is alive, way down in my heart,' and there 'ain't no' problem big enough to 'keep me' from tackling it head-on."
Marianne Williamson: "Higher Ground," by Stevie Wonder.
Eric Charbonneau/Invision for YWCA/AP
Gasser hypothesizes that Williamson wants voters to know, "I'm blunt, strong, agile, spiritual, and an old soulful soul who is willing to fight to bring this country back to a 'higher ground.' We American 'sleepers' have got to just 'stop sleepin;' but vote for me and together we won't let 'nobody bring us down.'"
Former Housing Secretary Julin Castro: "Baila Esta Cumbia," by Selena.
Richard W. Rodriguez, File via AP
According to Gasser's analysis, Castro wants voters to feel that he's "vibrant, joyful, optimistic, and proud of my Hispanic roots ethnically and politically."
"We're a land of immigrants, who bring their culture, spirit, and hard work so, 'las manos en alto' (hands up): vote for me and we'll 'baila' (dance) to a new day," Gassere continues digging into the song's lyrics.
- Here are all the insulting nicknames Trump has used for 2020 Democratic candidates
- Joe Biden met a 13-year-old girl before a campaign event and told her brothers to 'keep the guys away from her'
- Voters rank all the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates from most to least experienced