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Sunday, June 16, 2024

In 1840, presidential candidate William Henry Harrison blew up the charts with the still-bangin' political anthem "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too." A twelve verse-long indictment of his opponent Martin Van Buren, the song probably had all of the novel appeal a Crazy Frog jam would generate today.

The tune helped Harrison win the Presidency, and then thirty days after, he died. But something else lived on.

One hundred and sixty-eight years later, people are still voting for really old dudes who run their campaigns based on former military glories, and they are still listening to campaign songs.

Hillary Clinton took an interesting approach to selecting a song for her candidacy when she allowed her supporters to choose it. After surveying the entire catalogue of recorded music, Clinton supporters choose Celine Dion's "You and I" as their top pick.

Some were irritated by this choice, pointing out that Dion is Canadian. Yet they chose to silence their detractions when they remembered that Clinton herself is, indeed, a robot.

Nationality and droid status aside, who wants to think of Clinton when a song has lyrics like, "I'm burning, yearning / gently turning round and round"? Not even Bill.

But it's not just Whigs and Democrats - Republicans have theme songs too.

The real trouble for the Republicans, though, is finding an artist who will allow their songs to be associated with right-wing politics.

In 1984, Bruce Springsteen, questioned Ronald Reagan's validity as a fan when Reagan started playing "Born In The USA" at his rallies. The Boss later granted John Kerry permission to play "No Surrender" at his rallies. Kerry later surrendered.

George W. Bush had a similar run in with a rock star. Hometown hero Tom Petty told Bush that he would sue if the presidential candidate did not stop playing "I Won't Back Down" at speeches and rallies.

Bush went on to choose songs by Billy Ray Cyrus and Brooks & Dunn before reaping destruction upon the world.

Overall, campaign songs do little to affect the outcome of a given race. At rallies and on TV, they give us something vapid and vaguely inspirational to listen to before the politicians show up and take over that duty. It's a brand name, a rallying cry and enough to make you bring earplugs with you on your way to vote.

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