Nevertheless, Dylan’s blatant acoustic performance represents an embarrassing change in musical mood, as if DJ Obama were clearing the floor for the bride’s father’s speech. Unfortunately, what follows is a terrible misstep, suggesting that Obama paid too much attention to inclusion focus groups. The Nashville duo Brooks & Dunn’s Only in America is a kitschy country rock anthem of American exceptionalism, wrapped in banal “red-white-blue” clichés. Honestly, I can’t see the Obama household ever sticking those tripe on the stereo. Perhaps his focus group was afraid that James Brown’s Living in America would scare the neighbors.
Like all political playlists, Obama has thought a little too much about what songs represent and given us too little of what really moves him. We know from his regular year-end playlists that Obama listens to a lot of the latest hip-hop, but his two rap picks here, from Eminem and Jay Z, are just the kind of adrenaline-pumping fists you regularly hear Sports highlights with sound track.
This playlist is split 50/50 between black and white artists and is extremely inclusive. But one has to wonder if Gloria Estafan’s dreary ballad Always Tomorrow was really the best Obama could come up with to prop up the Latin American people. There’s not much guitar rock out there to be fair, but it tops it off with the sky-high optimism of U2’s Beautiful Day, which should make Bono happy the next time he comes over to Obama’s dinner.
Political leaders often struggle to find meaningful roles after serving years in high office. With his boring, medium-difficulty, philanthropic playlist, at least Obama could probably get himself an appearance as a day jockey on Heart Radio or Magic FM. Available for weddings and bar mitzvas at reasonable prices.