What song will play for Obama's acceptance speech? The 10 (or so) best guesses
In a little more than a week, 75,000 lucky ticket-holders will head for Invesco Field, ready to usher in a new era of photos for their Facebook pages. They'll walk through the closed (and possibly burning) streets of Denver, arriving hours early to be prodded endlessly by Secret Service. They'll giddily ignore speech after speech by politicians they never heard of, lamenting the tragic lack of beer at the concession stands.
And eventually, upon the entrance of the Great Half-White Hope, they will be reduced to one giant goosebump.
But it won't just be the arrival of Barack Obama that will send chills down their spines. Obama, no doubt, will enter the stadium to the tune of some inspiring piece of pop music. Whose song will it be? Springsteen? Stevie? Toby Keith? No one knows. But that, friends, is what uneducated speculation is for.
Here's a breakdown the top 11 (there was a tie!) contenders. Place your bets -- or suggest alternate songs -- in the comments section below. But remember: No country music.
Save those for the Republicans. -- Joe Tone
Out of the top ten: "Ebony and Ivory," by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder; "Revolution," by the Beatles; "If I Was President," by Wyclef Jean; "Ain't Nothin' But a G Thang," by Snoop Dogg ft. Dr. Dre; and "Black and White," by Michael Jackson
10 (tie). “Obama is Here,” by Ludacris
Key lyrics: “Paint the White House black and I'm sure that's got 'em terrified/McCain don't belong in any chair unless he's paralyzed”
Bump that! Technically, this may be the most appropriate song, since as it plays, everyone will be screaming: “Finally! Obama is here!” Plus it throws some 'bows at Jesse Jackson and other assorted haters. Always fun.
Pull the plug: As brilliant as it is – seriously, Luda, genius – it's not well known enough get the suits in the Club Level clapping awkwardly, a key element in the selection process.
Odds:1,000-1. Sorry, Luda. Maybe you can play the inauguration ball?
10 (tie). “99 Problems,” by Jay-Z
Key lyrics: “If you're havin' girl problems i feel bad for you son/I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one”
Bump that! Like Ludacris, Jay-Z is another of Obama's favorite artists, so he might just hook a brother up. And the song's a real shit-kicker. Even Joe Biden can vibe to that beat.
Pull the plug: It's just inaccurate. In fact, many would argue that of Obama's 99 or so problems, a bitch is his biggest. Or is it her husband?
Odds: 1,000-1. It's alright, Hova. Who needs Obama when you're married to
LeBron James Beyonce?
9. “What's Going On,” by Marvin Gaye
Key lyrics: “You see, war is not the answer/For only love can conquer hate/You know we've got to find a way/To bring some lovin' here today”
Bump that! As Wikipedia notes, this 1971 song “is told from the point of view of a Vietnam War veteran returning to the country he had been fighting for, and seeing nothing but injustice, suffering and hatred.” Which, you know, seems pretty relevant.
Pull the plug: The song's is sort of a downer -- Gaye was depressed when he wrote it -- and the Obama campaign can't have old vets jumping from the 500 level during his speech. That's just not good TV.
Odds: 100-1. Now, “Sexual Healing” on the other hand ...
8. “Talkin' About a Revolution,” by Tracy Chapman
Key lyric: “'Cause finally the tables are starting to turn/Talkin' bout a revolution/Yes, finally the tables are starting to turn”
Bump that! Released in 1988, Chapman's second single reflects Obama's message of measured hope, slow but steady change in rough times. Plus, she's from Ohio, a key swing state and a place full of homers. Using an Ohioan's song just might help him win the battleground state.
Pull the plug: Great lyrics, but too somber. Plus, while Chapman is from Ohio, she's from the wrong Ohio: Cleveland. If you're trying to win over the rest of the state -- we're talking to you, Cincy -- using a black, probably lesbian folk singer probably isn't the way to go.
Odds: 75-1. I can see it now: 2012. 70,000 people in Giants Stadium. “Talkin' About a Revolution” booms from the speakers. Hillary Clinton walks from the tunnel, and ...
7. “The Times They Are A-changin',” by Bob Dylan
Key lyrics: “Come senators, congressmen/Please heed the call/Don't stand in the doorway/Don't block up the hall”
Bump that! Dylan – another Obama fave -- is a blue-collar hero and child of middle-class midwestern roots, so choosing one of his songs could sway voters otherwise inclined to write in Michael Moore. Way more importantly, it's got “change” in the title.
Pull the plug: If anyone accidentally listens to the lyrics, they'll realize that it's a pretty dark song. The times weren't a-changin' for the better. They were a-goin' to shit.
Odds: 50-1. Not great odds, but it's better that way, because the general election might be over by the time the Secret Service finished going through Bob's pockets.
6. “Won't Back Down,” by Tom Petty
Key lyric: “Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around/And I'll keep this world from draggin me down/Gonna stand my ground and I wont back down”
Bump it: This could work. It solves two problems for Obama: Courting middle Americans (they love them some Petty) and showing that Obama will be a tough commander in chief. It conjures an image of Obama standing in the middle of the street, Paris on one arm and Britney on the other, playing chicken with the Straight Talk Express. Which, come to think of it, is a pretty good idea for a campaign ad.
Pull the Plug: The trouble with Petty is that every time one of his song comes on, magical joints spontaneously materialize behind the ear of every listener. It's hard to change the world when all your supporters are in the Taco Bell drive-through.
Odds: 40-1. Not quite acceptance-speech material. Now, the after party ...
5. “Changes,” by David Bowie
Key lyrics: “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.”
Bump that! Honestly, we got as stoned as possible and still have no idea what the hell Bowie is singing about here. But the chorus definitely fits.
Pull the plug: Remember the whole magic-joint-behind-the-ear thing? Same goes with Bowie, only with harder drugs, which have a tendency to fall out from behind your ear. Also, if anyone tries to figure out what's going on in this song, their heads might explode, which will be a bitch to clean up.
Odds: 30-1. Too high for our taste. Imagine the sound of 75,000 people walking out of Invesco singing, at various pitch and volume levels, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!” Or, imagine stabbing yourself in the ear drum. Either way.
4. “Pink Houses,” by John Mellencamp
Key lyrics: “Ain't that america, we're something to see, baby/Ain't that america, home of the free/Little pink houses for you and me.”
Bump that! No one really wants a little house. Or a pink house. But a little pink house? What patriot could turn that down? Had he thrown in a basketball hoop and a Prius, “Pink Houses” would be a lock for the acceptance speech. Even without, it's a heavy favorite. And it gets bonus points for having “America” in the chorus (just like every other Mellencamp song) and some poor grammar, for the all-important not-very-smart vote.
Odds: 25:1. What's that? My little pink house has an adjustable-rate mortgage? Ah, hell ...
3. “Waiting on the World to Change,” by John Mayer
Key lyrics: “Now we see everything that's going wrong/With the world and those who lead it/We just feel like we don't have the means/To rise above and beat it”
Bump that! Aside from having “change” in the chorus – score, John! -- Mayer has another thing going for him: He's under fifty. It's hard to argue that you're the candidate of change when you're rocking the same music every candidate has rocked for the last twenty years. Plus, Mayer would be a hit with young voters and their moms.
Pull the plug: It may sound peppy, but the song isn't remotely hopeful. It basically proclaims, “We keep waiting for change, and waiting and waiting and waiting, but nothing happens because we're too busy mastering the 'hard' version of 'Black Magic Woman' on Guitar Hero III."
Odds: 5:1. Dude, you dated Jessica Simpson. Just can't do it.
2. "The Rising," by Bruce Springsteen
Key lyrics: “How far I've gone, how high I've climbed/On my back's a sixty pound stone/On my shoulder a half mile of line”
Bump that! Music's working-class hero – and one of Obama's favorite artists – emerges from the tunnel, guitar in hand, singing a song about beating back despair with diligence and faith in a vaguely Christian (but not too Christian!) God. Obama follows behind. The song finishes. Three days later, the cheering stops. The two icons embrace. Obama takes the mike. And somewhere in the background, the guy who suggested Bowie is promptly fired.
Pull the plug: Remember that stuff about “rocking the same music every other Dem has rocked in years past?” Sadly, Bruce played pretty much every stop on Kerry's 2004 campaign. Which, you might recall, didn't really work out.
Odds: 2:1 Screw it, it's Bruce. Who remembers 2004 anyway?
1. “Uptight (Everything's Alright),” by Stevie Wonder
Key lyrics: “Baby, ev'rything is all right, uptight, out of sight”
Bump that! Stevie's been a regular on the campaign trail, and another admitted favorite of Obama's. He's a black dude lots of white folks are down with, just like Barack. And he's blind, so even if people don't like him, they won't say so. The song, meanwhile, might just be perfect. Recorded in 1965, it sounds peppier than hell and has an uplifting story, but it's without the over-dramatic themes of other would-be political anthems. With constant reminders of how hosed we are, it'd be nice to hear a song that just says, “Hey, it's cool. Everything is all right.” He can do it live, too. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, who've covered the song, can help out, luring young voters who think Stevie Wonder is some forgotten comic-book hero.
Pull the plug: On Stevie? What are you, f-ing crazy?
Odds: 1:2. This is the jam. I'm sure of it. In fact, I'd bet my ticket to the speech on it.
If only I had one.
Think this list sucks? Cool! Comment below with the song you think Obama should walk in to.