From the apocryphal story of the time Ronald Reagan supposedly used “Born in the USA” at a campaign stop to the time John McCain attempted to use ABBA’s “Take A Chance On Me” to entice disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters, stories about candidates who choose songs based on their titles or choruses without listening to the lyrics abound. And that’s not even to get into matters of just plain bad taste, which also abounds.
But the 2012 election cycle is still in its infancy, and bad musical choices are already easy to find in campaign commercials and on stages throughout the early primary states. Discounting Newt Gingrich’s renowned “Dancing Queen” ringtone, the 5 most bizarre musical choices from the campaign (so far) are below.
5. Krista Branch’s “I Am America,” featured in a Herman Cain advertisement
If the ad of adviser Mark Block smoking followed by Herman Cain’s slow-motion grin wasn’t odd enough on its own, the choice of the little-known tea party anthem only added to its weirdness. In the original video, former “American Idol” contestant Branch belts out the song penned by her husband Michael as a response to a 2009 comment about the tea partiers by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “Pretend you’re kings, sit on your thrones, look down your nose at the peasants below,” Branch sang in her anthem, which was then used by a millionaire businessman now widely suspected of using his run for the presidency to promote his book whose professional reputation was tarnished by multiple allegations of sexual harassment by former female subordinates and job-seekers — allegations he derided as misunderstood compliments.
4. Kid Rock’s “Born Free” used by former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA)
The last time many people heard from Kid Rock before Romney chose this 2010 ditty for his campaign music was when he and Pamela Anderson had that fight over her role in Borat. But he’s apparently still making formulaic country-rock anthems, including the one he allowed Romney to use. Obviously chosen for the chorus (and potentially for the two men’s shared connection to Michigan), it tells the story of a man who is setting off into the great unknown, with lilting couplets like “And I don’t want no one to cry, but tell ’em if I don’t survive” and twenty consecutive seconds of Rock singing “whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa.” Romney, however, is expected to survive.
3. Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” used by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA)
To anyone who’s read up on Gingrich’s unsavory personal history, the idea that he thinks of himself as a “tiger” probably isn’t surprising, even if one finds the comparison off-putting. But for those who read the Esquire interview with his second ex-wife Marianne might find this line more than a little jarring: “So many times, it happens too fast, you trade your passion for glory.”
2. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ “American Girl,” as used briefly by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
Yes, the song is called “American Girl,” but that’s apparently about as far into the song as Bachmann or her staff delved. Though Tom Petty says the oft-heard rumor that the song is about a female student’s suicide at the University of Florida is untrue, the lines “Oh yeah, all right, take it easy, baby, make it last all night” clearly indicate that the song is less about the All-American Girl image that Bachmann intended to portray and more about one who didn’t pay close attention to the abstinence-only education Bachmann would prefer all students get.
1. Train’s “Soul Sister” as used by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
Though it would have been difficult to escape hearing at least some of the lyric’s of Train’s omnipresent, oversold 2010 hit, at least one line should have automatically disqualified this song in the minds of Bachmann and her staff, even if they were attracted by the line, “I knew I wouldn’t forget you and so I went and let you blow my mind.” That one line, unfortunately for Bachmann, is the first one, which swelled just as she began kissing her on-stage supporters and staff after the speech that marked the end of her campaign: “Your lipstick stains on the front lobe of my left side brains.” For those less schooled in oblique pop music sex references: Train singer Pat Monahan was referring to fellatio. By following that up with “so I went and let you blow… my mind,” he actually worked two fellatio references into he first verse. Other less-oblique sex references litter the rest of the song.
In plainer terms, the man singing is saying that the oral sex he received from the subject of the song was so good that he knew he wouldn’t forget the anonymous woman performing it. And that’s the song to which Michele Bachmann ended her 2012 Presidential campaign.
[Image via Gage Skidmore on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]