Barack ‘n' Roll

President Obama's summer playlist -- pandering or meandering?

I’m not sure whether to raise a glass or an eyebrow to you, Mr. President. Maybe both?

As has become a summertime routine, the White House recently published President Barack Obama’s summer playlist, and it’s all over the place, to say the least. Question is: How much of this music does he actually like and how much is just politics as usual?

With a daytime playlist that includes everything from jazz legend Charles Mingus to Sara Bareilles (“I’m not gonna write you a love song”) and a nighttime playlist that runs the gamut from Brazil’s Caetano Veloso to Chance the Rapper, all that’s missing is some Beethoven, Mongolian throat singing and a little Bieber.

The playlist sort of has the hallmarks of some good ol’ fashioned pandering, which means there’s something here for everyone: millenials, centennials and everything in between.


“Elevator Operator,” by Courtney Barnett: Let’s not forget that Obama is 55 years old. The fact that he -- or his staffers -- can appreciate deadpan grunge from an Australian twentysomething is pretty admirable.

“Criminal,” by Fiona Apple: Eh, Mr. President? I won’t tell Michelle.


“Home,” by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros: Really? Of all of the Edward Sharpe songs? Their other material is so much better.

“Lady,” by D’Angelo: Not because the song is necessarily bad, but because, c’mon, how could you not feature a track from “Black Messiah”?

But back to Sara Bareilles. If we’re talking guilty pleasure singer/songwriters, how about a little Jason Mraz, Jewel or Tristan Prettyman? San Diego tends to pump those out. Speaking of San Diego and guilty pleasures, why not mix it up and make our little slice of paradise a guilty pleasure? I mean, America’s Finest City is America’s No. 1 travel destination, and I’m sure going to Martha’s Vineyard every year could get to be such a drag!

But I digress, if the goal was to be inclusive of all genders, social classes and age groups (did I mention Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" made the cut?), then, mission accomplished. I can raise a glass to that.

Just one question, Mr. President: No Kendrick, huh?

Rutger Rosenborg was a Stanford neuroscientist before he formed Ed Ghost Tucker. He now plays in the Lulls and makes music on his own when he's not writing. Follow his updates on Facebook or contact him directly.

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