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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.

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