Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The worst Hillary Clinton campaign songs, ranked

Hillary Clinton has inspired a lot of terrible music. A lot. So much that when I polled readers to ask them what the worst Hillary Clinton campaign song of all time is, I had to launch a second one just to make sure I included everything. And even this list isn't all-inclusive; there are a billion amateur odes to Hillary on YouTube that are equally terrible, but just too obscure to make this list.

Why is Hillary Clinton music so awful? I suspect three reasons. First and foremost, it's usually created by and for the most unhip group there is: middle-to-upper-class boomers. These are the people who are still trying to cram down America's throats the pop sensibilities of fifty years ago, with the occasional indulgence in edgy hip-hop like Rapper's Delight or anything by Will Smith. Second, anything produced or promoted by the actual campaign has been extensively poll-tested into an absolutely bland, contrived oblivion in which no spark of individual expression or human influence can survive. Finally, Clinton is, of course, a deeply uninspiring politician, and any attempt to gin up enthusiasm for her career as song is going to come off as deeply cynical and inauthentic as it is.

That said:


Not actually a Hillary Clinton song, but this one haunts the memory of anyone who remembers Bill Clinton's first campaign - and in particular his inauguration, featuring the grim spectacle of Hillary stiffly clapping and bobbing on-stage. Nothing embodies Clinton culture more than an ageing sixties rock band getting bribed into an uncomfortably hostile reunion for the amusement of a crowd of rich white donors and politicians in their gowns and tuxedos, with Michael Jackson thrown in for no apparent reason. And since the odds of another nostalgia reunion are now approaching 100%, it's just a matter of time before this becomes Hillary's song, too.


Mostly just an endless parade of pop-country cliches, but what really stands out to me is the subtle, unintentional paternalism early-on: "guys, put your boots on and let's smash this ceiling!" Buddy, I think Hillary has this one covered - she probably doesn't need you, your comically incongruous cowboy hat, or your inexplicable sledgehammer.


I am fascinated by this man. Evidently his name is - wait for it - Paul Edward Blaise McClure, and back in 2008 he was absolutely exploding with energy for Hillary. Eight years ago, he could be spotted at various campaign events enthusiastically promoting his absurdly campy "Hillary in the House", to the point of staging elaborate "premieres" and bizarre "spontaneous" public performances (above). But beyond that, nothing is known about him, and after Clinton's first loss he almost immediately disappeared back into the bunker of shadow campaign operative entertainers from whence he came. Also, continuing the theme of Clinton supporters accidentally voicing cartoonish misogyny: "We need a cleaning in that White House! And we need a woman to clean it up!" Are you fucking kidding me


Does the idea of replacing the word "Jesus" with "Hillary" in a song worshipping Jesus chaffe your Christian-and-or-anti-authoritarian sensibilities? No? Okay, what if I told you that this is also appropriated from a freedom song Reverend Osby came up with while he was jailed during the freedom rides of 1961? Aesthetically this is probably the least grating and actively obnoxious entry on this list, but if this were a list of "most problematic Hillary songs" this would almost certainly come out on top.

#5: HILLARY 4 U & ME

This one's my personal favorite. It has almost everything you could ask for in a Hillary song:

  • Inexplicably manic enthusiasm
  • Choreographed dance
  • White people appropriating black culture
  • Political whitewashing
  • Almost certainly astroturfed
Really the only thing it's missing is the usual unintentional sexism, which I guess is why it comes in behind...


Is this even unintentional? As far as I can tell, these guys think they're doing Clinton a favor by trivializing the career and persona of one of the most prominent politicians of our time into a gross exercise in objectification featuring such lines as "we loved her hair", "she's sexy and she's strong". Guys, you don't have to do this. You could just talk about her positions and polic...ok, maybe they have to do this.


I wasn't kidding about the self-promotion: Paul Edward Blaise McClure (lol) pushed this song so hard in 2008 that both of these videos went viral. Who is this man? What does he do with the rest of his life? And why am I convinced that Peter Daou 100% definitely produced this?


The publicity stunt that launched this list: Sunday, a totally not astroturfed, clearly spontaneous "flash mob" of somehow choreographed dancers showed up in Union Square, wearing pantsuits - and immediately followed, of course, with glowing coverage like this:
It’s official. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her collection of pantsuits have started a movement ― and it’s a groovy one.
Unfortunately the organizers made the crucial mistake of using copyrighted music in their performance, which means that YouTube is taking down copies of the video left and right - but what I can't get over here is that this clearly was organized. Someone in the Clinton campaign (or one of her directly coordinated Super PACs) actually had a thought-process that began "what would be the best use of our limited resources?" and ended with "astroturfed flash mob choreographed dance". And I cannot believe that this is something any professional political operative thinks will help Clinton win a single vote, which means that it's just something a high-level official in her campaign really wanted to happen. Our last bulwark against fascism? Grown-ass adults who imagine liberalism riding a tidal wave of family-friendly dance routines into the White House.


The original version, which I first encountered in promotional videos for the low-budget inspirational Miracles From Heaven, was already so obnoxious that Clinton's own notoriously-on-message campaign team was low-key complaining about it. But then the DNC produced this apocalyptic abomination for the convention, an all-star remix of third-tier celebrities, awkwardly bobbing rich white girls, sixty-is-the-new-twenty boomers who seem uniformly unable to carry a tune, and an absolutely painful freestyle breakout that declares the election of Hillary Clinton the end of sexism: "women are equal now!"

Some scientists have actually speculated that this song is so profoundly obnoxious because sexism ("Platten’s voice is distinctly girly"), but the remix proves that even when without her vocals in the lead, Fight Song is a monstrous earworm scientifically designed to inject late capitalism's stagnating, commercialized boomer-centric culture directly into the same part of your brain that flinches when you touch a hot stove. The major difference here is that when you touch a hot stove you can pull your hand away, but when you hear Fight Song, you know you're gonna be hearing it for the next eight years.