Better Campaign Songs

Better Campaign Songs & Opinions on The Avalanches

It's not a political rally without a crowd-pumping and uplifting playlist. But political campaign teams are not always great music tastemakers. NPR's National Political Correspondent Don Gonyea talks with Jim and Greg about hearing the same songs over and over on the campaign trail. Then they play campaign managers and make a list of better campaign theme songs. Plus, a review of the long-awaited second album from The Avalanches.

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Music News

It has been a wrenching couple of weeks. More videos have surfaced of black men shot to death by police officers, the murder of five police officers in Dallas and all of it resulting in mass demonstrations in cities across the country. Musicians like Miguel, Jay-Z, Ariana Grande and others have released new music in reaction as part of the broader Black Lives Matter movement. Greg and Jim explore the history of musical reaction to tragic events going back to the Kent State shootings in 1970.


NPR's Don Gonyea

Don Gonyea

For more than 20 years, NPR National Political Correspondent Don Gonyea has covered presidential campaigns. And in that time Don has had to suffer through horrendous sound tracks used to the introduce the candidates. Don tells Jim and Greg that covering a campaign across the country means you hear the same songs over and over and over. Sometimes you find a new appreciation for the music (Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours") and sometimes it leaves you scratching your head (Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend"?). Don shares his memories of campaign songs and offers a better choice of his own. Photo Credit: © NPR 2004 Photo by Steve Barrett


Better Campaign Songs

Presidential candidates keep reusing the same generically inspirational anthems (Springsteen, Mellencamp, U2, etc.) on the campaign trail. They rarely seem to pay attention to what the lyrics of the songs are actually about. So Jim and Greg are offering their services as political consultants to help freshen up the campaign rallies. Here are their picks for campaign songs that candidates should use as they run for office:

reviewWildflowerWildflower available on iTunes

The Avalanches Wildflower

For the first time in 16 years, electronic act The Avalanches has released a new album. Wildflower is the follow-up to the Australian group's successful debut, Since I Left You. As on that influential first record, the new album features songs seemingly built on thousands of samples. This time around, though, the group is teaming up with several collaborators. Greg enjoyed Wildflower, and pointed out that he's a fan of The Avalanches' Day-Glo, positive energy. However, he thinks the numerous guest cameos from artists like Biz Markie, Danny Brown, and Ariel Pink are hit-and-miss. Overall, Greg is a fan of The Avalanches' quirky sound, but gives this record a Try It. Jim is a little more excited about this album, and compares it to watching Saturday morning cartoons as a kid. He thinks that this record might not be for everyone, but you should Buy It and see for yourself.


Featured Songs

  1. Swizz Beatz, Sad News (feat. Scarface), Sad News, n/a, 2016
  2. Miguel, How Many, How Many, n/a, 2016
  3. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Ohio, 4 Way Street, Atlantic, 1971
  4. Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A., Born in the U.S.A., Columbia, 1984
  5. Fleetwood Mac, Don't Stop, Rumours, Warner Bros., 1976
  6. Stevie Wonder, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Tamla, 1970
  7. Twisted Sister, We're Not Gonna Take It, Stay Hungry, Atlantic, 1984
  8. Brooks & Dunn, Only in America, Steers & Stripes, Arista Nashville, 2001
  9. The Temptations, Ain't Too Proud to Beg, Gettin' Ready, Motown/Universal, 1966
  10. Frank Sinatra, High Hopes with Jack Kennedy, High Hopes with Jack Kennedy / Jack Kennedy All the Way, n/a, 1960
  11. Lee Greenwood, God Bless the U.S.A., American Patriot, Capitol Records Nashville, 1992
  12. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Get Up Stand Up, Burnin', Island, 1973
  13. Ani DiFranco, Which Side Are You On, ¿Which Side Are You On?, Righteous Babe, 2012
  14. Patti Smith, People Have the Power, Dream of Life, Arista, 1988
  15. Johnny Nash, I Can See Clearly Now, I Can See Clearly Now, Epic, 1972
  16. The Stooges, I Got A Right, I Got a Right / Gimme Some Skin, Siamese, 1977
  17. The O'Jays, Love Train, Back Stabbers, Philadelphia International Records, 1972
  18. Vic Caesar, Nixon's the One, Nixon's the One, Capitol, 1974
  19. Tom Petty, I Won't Back Down, Full Moon Fever, MCA, 1989
  20. Elton John, Philadelphia Freedom, Philadelphia Freedom, MCA, 1975
  21. Primal Scream, Movin' On Up, Screamadelica, Creation, 1991
  22. The Avalanches, Frankie Sinatra, Wildflower, XL, 2016
  23. The Avalanches, The Noisy Eater, Wildflower, XL, 2016
  24. The Avalanches, Colours, Wildflower, XL, 2016
  25. Brenda Lee, Ring-A-My Phone, Ring-A-My Phone / Little Jonah (Rock On Your Steel Guitar), Decca, 1958
  26. Savages, The Answer (Live on Sound Opinions), Adore Life, Matador, 2016
  27. Sting, Wilt Thou Unkind Thus Leave Me, Songs from the Labrynth, Gramaphon, 2006
  28. Radiohead, Burn the Witch, A Moon Shaped Pool, XL, 2016
  29. Animal Collective, Floridada, Painting With, Domino, 2016
  30. Biffy Clyro, Howl, Ellipses, 14th Floor, 2016

Footnotes Swizz Beatz's Sad News Jay-Z's spiritual Miguel's How Many Victoria Monet's Better Days feat. Ariana Grande Don Gonyea's Iowa Playlist Don Gonyea's New Hampshire Playlist Ani DiFranco on SO Bill McKibben on the Paris Climate Summit Patti Smith Album Dissection Presidential Rock The Avalanches