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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

March 11, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Game On: Artists go viral singing candidates' praises

When it comes to American elections, it’s pretty much one person, one vote. Sure, in the era of the SuperPAC billionaires can throw money behind their candidate of choice until the cows come home, and the rest of us might be able to donate a few hard-earned dollars to a campaign here and there.

But what do we do if we’re enamored with a candidate way beyond what can be expressed in a single vote or a few bucks?

For one Oklahoma family of Rick Santorum supporters, the answer was simple: write a song. Sisters Camille and Haley Harris, who perform as First Love, backed by their father, claim they met Santorum at campaign stops in Tulsa and were so inspired by his “character and his ability to boldly lead this country in the right direction” that they wrote the song “Game On”.

They quickly recorded and edited the video for the song and posted it to YouTube on Super Tuesday. In less than a week since, the video has caught fire. When I first saw it on Wednesday, it had less than 60,000 views. It’s now quickly approaching a million.

Fair warning: click play and you risk wandering around singing “Game on” under your breath for the next week.

But Santorum’s not the only candidate who’s got a song devoted to him going viral.

Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential run inspired LA singer-songwriter Aimee Allen to write “Ron Paul Anthem” where she extolls Paul as the protector of our “civil-constitutional rights” and calls for his supporters to “start a revolution,” over a gritty alternative guitars and a pounding beat. The video, released in March of 2008 has just over 550,000 views, but has been re-gaining popularity with the new campaign season.

For Paul supporters who prefer rap to rock, there’s also America’s Choice: Liberty or Death where rapper Smiley Chris breaks down Paul’s policy positions over a beat interspersed with audio of Paul’s speeches.

So what about frontrunner Mitt Romney? From the looks of it, his candidacy hasn’t inspired anyone to write a song singing his praises, though a lot of people seem to have written songs mocking him (the strangest of which has to be Mexican Mitt Romney for President).

This is in keeping with the current conventional wisdom that his candidacy isn’t inspiring a lot of grassroots support.

But it could just be that rock and roll doesn’t really dig a frontrunner. The outsider mentality favors an underdog like Santorum, or an edgy outsider like Paul. The spirit of rock and roll is all about opposing to the established elite, which seems to be what Romney represents in this race.

So should Romney be worried that Santorum and Paul’s songs are going viral, while he doesn’t really have any? Well, its certainly not a good sign. But maybe he can take comfort in the fact that none of these songs are particularly good. There’s something about trying to cram a candidate’s policy platforms, or even an actual speech they’ve given, into song lyrics that are supposed to be poetic, that just doesn’t really work.

The exception is my personal favorite candidate devotional of all time, Jamaican Reggae artist Cocoa Tea’s ode to Barack Obama, which didn’t get much play in the US, but was a global hit during the 2008 campaign.

The video only has about 500,000 views and is surprisingly hard to track down on Youtube. Which just goes to show, we should probably stick to voting, rather than electing candidates based on viral video views.

This post was produced in partnership with Flip the Media

Comments | Topics: Aimee Allen, Barack Obama, campaign oddities


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