×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Presidential Candidates and Music: What’s Playing at Campaign Stops

Here are some examples of how presidential candidates are using music in their campaigns:

HILLARY CLINTON

Katy Perry’s “Roar” might be the unofficial theme song for Secretary Clinton’s White House run (although the pop star has offered to write an official one). According to the Washington Post, Clinton’s camp has also warmed up crowds with “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson and “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

TED CRUZ

The Cruz camp leans heavily on country and Christian pop. The Washington Post reported that fellow Texan Pat Green’s “Wave on Wave,” popular among the Christian community, is commonly heard at Cruz rallies, with Green’s blessing. (The song was also used by George W. Bush for his 2004 re-election campaign.)

According to the Huffington Post, Cruz national spokesperson Rick Tyler has added unofficial campaign DJ to his list of duties, favoring country singer Aaron Tippin’s “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly,” recorded a week after the 9/11 attacks, as a song that hits all the right notes with the campaign.

As Cruz himself told “CBS This Morning” regarding the aftermath of that tragedy: “Country music, collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me, and I have to say, just at a gut level, I had an emotional reaction that says, ‘These are my people.’ ”

BERNIE SANDERS

Possibly the most rueful song used by a campaign is Simon & Garfunkel’s “America,” heard in a Sanders spot that ran prior to the Iowa caucuses (though stripped of existential lyrics like “I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why”).

Tunes most often played at rallies — many of them suggesting Sanders’ trademark rejection of the status quo — include Muse’s “Uprising,” the Trammps’ “Disco Inferno,” Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ bout a Revolution,” Bob Marley’s “Revolution,” Flogging Molly’s “Revolution,” Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own,” David Bowie’s “Starman” and Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.”

DONALD TRUMP

Neil Young objected after his “Rockin’ in the Free World” was played at the announcement of Trump’s candidacy, and the real estate mogul’s camp backed down. “Had I been asked to allow my music to be used for a candidate, I would have said no,” said Young in a statement posted on his Facebook page. “Increasingly democracy has been hijacked by corporate interests.”

Others who have objected to Trump’s use of their music include Aerosmith, who twice sent a cease-and-desist letter to Trump for playing “Dream On” at rallies; Adele, whose “Skyfall” and “Rolling in the Deep” were rolled out at Trump gatherings in February; and R.E.M., who strongly objected to the use of “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” — “Go f**k yourselves, the lot of you — you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry little men,” singer Michael Stipe said in a statement.

The Trump camp’s playlist at rallies is eclectic, ranging from selections from “The Phantom of the Opera” to Puccini arias to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Going to Take It” to Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”

For more from Variety’s Politics and Hollywood issue, click here.

More Music

  • Marc Byers

    Execs from Motown, Live Nation, Recording Academy Set to Speak at Culture Creators' Inaugural C2 Summit

    Culture Creators, the organization which recognizes minorities in film, television, music and fashion, is holding its first-ever C2 Summit on Oct. 21 in Washington D.C. Its mission: to engage, mentor, and provide recruitment opportunities to students of color attending historically black colleges and universities. Students were selected from an application process and will participate in [...]

  • Rami Dawod SESAC

    SESAC Toasts Rami Dawod as Pop Songwriter of the Year

    Camila Cabello’s “Never Be The Same” and “Electricity” by Mark Ronson and Silk City featuring Dua Lipa are just a few of the co-writing credits celebrated during an October 16 dinner at Nobu Malibu hosted by SESAC in honor of Rami Dawod. Named Pop Songwriter of the Year by the performance rights organization, Dawod is [...]

  • Luis Fonsi Erika Ender Latin Grammys

    The Second Latin Explosion: How 'Despacito' Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

    Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention. The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin [...]

  • Ricky Martin Celia Cruz Gloria Estefan

    From Idea to Legacy: Latin Grammy Awards Mark 20 Years of Global Recognition

    The idea of creating a separate organization to honor the diversity of Latin music was a discussion that took place for years before it actually happened, but an event driven by one of pop music’s most important crossover artists solidified it. During the 41st Grammy Awards ceremony, a young Ricky Martin was scheduled to perform [...]

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

  • BTS 'Good Morning America' TV show,

    BTS Show Love for Lauv and Their Army of Fans in Video for Reworked 'Make It Right'

    Early Friday morning (Oct. 18), BTS gave fans a taste of what their upcoming “comeback” (Korean pop terminology for new music) may be like with a reworked version of “Make It Right.” The Korean boy band collaborated with the American singer-songwriter Lauv, who starts the soulful ballad off with a verse in English. Advocates for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content