Kid Rock is running for Senate. This is ridiculous, of course, because writing raps about wanting to be a cowboy is not a skill that overlaps with creating sensible policies and functioning laws. But on the other hand, it’s not at all ridiculous because he’s a celebrity. Normal candidates have to work hard for voters to learn their names, but celebrities, by definition, are well known. They have an advantage. No wonder there’s been so many celebrity politicians, and I’m not talking just about the White House: Al Franken, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Fred Thompson, Ronald Reagan, Sonny Bono, and more. It’s woven into the fabric of American democracy.
So, we have to take Kid Rock’s candidacy seriously. Not so seriously that we have to learn his real name just yet because his official campaign website remains KidRockForSenate.com. But still. Seriously-ish.
Inspired by Kid Rock, we’ve decided to look at the relationship between music and politics in the same spirit of seriously-ish. These are 10 Albums That Could Run for Office or, put another way, 10 Albums That Represent a Complete and Coherent Political Philosophy. It’s totally arbitrary, completely made up, and for entertainment purposes only. Or it’s an excuse to fly off in a rage-filled tirade on Twitter. Your choice.
In this game, it is the album that is running for office, not the artist. The album must express a complete worldview. Some worldviews are local, some international, some interested in the economy, social issues, or revolution. We’re going to distill these statements down into policy positions. These policy positions do not have to be sane; after all, music is larger than life, and a political campaign based on music is going to be extreme. After that, we’ll pluck a campaign slogan from the album’s lyrics, locate real politicians with similar belief systems, and take a guess as to how electable that message would be. Along the way there will be amazing music. And remember: This is nothing but a totally meaningless, completely arbitrary assault on you, your values, and everything you hold dear.
Arular by M.I.A.
Campaign Slogan: “Pull Up the People/ Pull Up the Poor”
Campaign Messaging: Arular is here to tell the government to go away, and if they’re not willing to blow the scene, M.I.A. says, “I’ve got the bombs to make you blow.” Arular is in favor of free love and free people (“Hombre”), against child-trafficking (“10 Dollar”), and perfectly willing to use violence to achieve those goals. “I’ll fight you just to get peace,” she warns. Here, the head-spinning high of the dance floor blends with the bloody battle fields. It’s like the gleeful destruction of Paris by the mobs of the French revolution. One can imagine M.I.A. holding a wine glass, leaning on a guillotine, calling out for another bottle of champagne and another rolling head.
Similar Politicians: Che Guevara, Camille Desmoulins
Chance of Winning Election: In certain districts of California, this is an easy win.
What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye
Campaign Slogan: “Only love can conquer hate.”
Campaign Messaging: What’s Going On is a concept album about a soldier returning from the Vietnam War to racial and economic tensions. From this simple story, the album outlines a bold vision for humanity that includes how we should treat each other and the world outside of ourselves. It even covers how to behave when we disagree: “Picket lines and picket signs/ Don’t punish me with brutality.” The album isn’t just political; it’s a complete system of morality, one that demands pacifism and patience.
Similar Politicians: Mahatma Ghandi
Chance of Winning Election: Not so good in America, but the message might be better received in one of those tiny Scandinavian countries where everybody’s always taking care of each other.
Born In The U.S.A. By Bruce Springsteen
Campaign Slogan: “No retreat, baby, no surrender.”
Campaign Messaging: The first words of the album are, “Born down in a dead man’s town,” and life doesn’t get easier from there. Blind patriotism this is not; instead of celebrating its birthplace, the album treats it as another bit of bad luck. “The times are tough, just getting tougher,” for the blue-collar characters who populate Born in the U.S.A., the result of an increasingly globalized world that’s causing factory jobs to move overseas. “Now I work down at the car wash/ Where all it ever does is rain.” Veterans are sent to pointless wars and return home to find that life has moved on. This is the landscape of Born in the U.S.A., an album that knows you are hurting and feels your pain.
Similar Politicians: This is what every politician from the industrial midwest is desperately trying to be.
Chance of Winning Election: Little known fact: 35% of Americans aged 50-65 have already elected this album President of their heart.