It’s no secret millennials tend to lean left, or that Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign drew on unprecedented levels of support from this demographic. Thus, fully cognizant of whom much of their audience might be this year, the Democratic convention’s digital director, Kelli Klein, spoke with Mic last week about “crafting an experience that works for a generation likely to see the late-July event on smaller screens,” since more millennials pay for streaming service rather than cable. And in another undeniably cool effort to pander to today’s youth, DNC staffers created Spotify playlists for the Democratic convention.
As of Monday afternoon, the Democratic convention Spotify account has four public playlists. One, entitled “Official Unofficial #DemsInPhilly Community,” features a hip remake of the classic “The Star Spangled Banner” by Beyonce, and “Glory,” the theme song of the 2014 film Selma, probably as a nod to the Democratic Party’s current emphasis on civil rights and improved race relations.
“Countdown to the Democratic Convention” features more light-hearted, popularly known tracks like Beyonce’s “Countdown,” Florence + the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over,” Ariana Grande’s “One Last Time,” and songs by Imagine Dragons and Coldplay. The playlist “From Philly” features Boyz II Men, P!nk, and John Legend, while “DemConvention: Team Communication” includes a vast array of hits, from Drake’s “One Dance” to Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman,” as well as classics like Aaliyah’s “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number,” a track one could reasonably interpret as a reference to both Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s relatively advanced ages of 74 and 68 respectively.
All of the Dem Convention Spotify’s picks are fairly relevant and make for enjoyable mixes to build hype in these last remaining weeks before the convention in which Clinton will officially become the Democratic Party’s nominee, and you can listen to them here. But in my humble opinion, a few equally fitting tracks that encapsulate the Democratic race over this past year were left out.
1. “Fix You” by Coldplay
Both Clinton and Sanders built their campaigns on the promise they’ll do everything they can to try to fix America, from its dramatic wealth inequality to its climate of racial tension, appropriately touched on by lyrics from the song’s chorus: “Lights will guide you home / And ignite your bones / And I will try to fix you.”
The song could also serve as a nod to the uphill battle faced by Sanders over the past year, and his persistence on staying in the race even when faced with crushing losses, with lines like, “When you try your best, but you don’t succeed” and “But if you never try you’ll never know / Just what you’re worth.”
2. “Shake It Out” by Florence + the Machine
While Sanders didn’t hold back when it came to describing the current, huge wealth inequality in America, his campaign slogan was simultaneously “A Future to Believe In,” and he made it clear that it’s not too late. Thus, in the spirit of making terrible situations better, from the pre-chorus of “Shake It Out”: “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”
Additionally, the lines “And all of the ghouls come out to play / And every demon wants his pound of flesh” could be interpreted as references to the special interest groups playing games with Congress that Sanders was always going off about.
3. “Gods and Monsters” by Lana Del Rey
The lyrics “In the land of gods and monsters / I was an angel / Living in the garden of evil” and “No one’s gonna take my soul away” reflect the “holier-than-thou” persona some claimed Sanders assumed by consistently pointing out the corruption and ties to corporate, moneyed interests of politicians around him, while also refusing to have a super PAC.
Simultaneously, the line “Screwed up, scared, doing anything that I needed” reflects popular defenses of the darker aspects of Clinton’s past, from accepting money from private prisons and fossil fuel companies to voting for the Iraq War, which argue she was simply doing what she needed to gain political ground.
4. “Never Underestimate a Girl” by Vanessa Hudgens
Whether or not one views Clinton as a feminist icon, the lyrics of this song were practically made for her. Its very first line, “It takes a girl to understand,” could be a reference to how, frankly, no one understands women’s issues like reproductive rights or wage inequality like women themselves.
As for the lines, “Your secretary might end up your boss / Whether you really like it or not,” not too many people, conservatives and progressives alike, are happy about it, but former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is probably going to be all of our bosses come January, whether we “really like it or not.”
The lines “She makes it look easy, in control completely” and “She’s always got a plan” reflect criticisms of Clinton for being so put together as to come across as calculating and artificial.
5. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron
The iconic lines “The revolution will not be televised / The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox,” which refer to how truly revolutionary changes often don’t happen all at once or while the public is paying attention, could, in a Democratic convention playlist, refer to complaints by Sanders supporters that the media wasn’t giving Sanders and his “political revolution” enough coverage, and that the relatively few debates scheduled by the DNC were a favor to Clinton.
6. “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar
At the beginning of the Democratic race, neither Clinton nor Sanders took serious jabs at each other, and by all means appeared perfectly friendly while, on the other side of the aisle, not a day went by when Donald Trump and either Lindsey Graham or Jeb Bush were clawing each other’s eyes out. The line “We was O.G. like DOC, remember that?” could be an allusion to those happy peaceful days, before all the debate aggression and Twitter beefing.
Yet for all their squabbles, both Clinton and Sanders have always agreed that the real enemy is the Republican Party. To that end, I refer you to the line, “I don’t hate you but I hate to critique, overrate you.”
7. “Down in the DM” by Yo Gotti
While, fortunately enough, the Democratic race didn’t involve any sexting scandals, Clinton’s private email server was a huge part of the dialogue. In the same vein, emails from the DNC retrieved by Russian hackers and released to the public also resulted in substantial backlash when some emails proved to many that the DNC favored Clinton over Sanders since day one. “It goes down in the DM,” indeed.
8. “Single Ladies” by Beyonce
Remember when one report found single women in America were the nation’s most powerful political force, earlier this year? The Democratic Party, including both Sanders and Clinton, has long made empowering women, from fighting for everything from their reproductive rights to access to education to paid leave to wage equality, a priority, and what better way to celebrate this groundbreaking progress and the role of young, single women in the Democratic race this year than with this iconic track?
9. “Never Say Never” by Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber might not be the first artist who comes to mind when you’re thinking about political anthems for a Democratic convention playlist, but really, think about it. The lines “I will never say never (I will fight) / I will fight till forever (make it right) / Whenever you knock me down / I will not stay on the ground” perfectly reflect Sanders’ staunch refusal to concede before the convention, even with all odds stacked against him, and even when Democratic officials consistently “knock[ed] [him] down” because of this.
10. “0 to 100″ by Drake
Sanders started out a relatively lesser known politician from a small, homogenous state, but within months of his presidential announcement, his rallies brought crowds of record-breaking size — talk about “0 to 100 … real quick.” While Clinton has pretty much always been in the spotlight, her resounding victory over Sanders comes after a disappointing loss to then-Senator Obama for the Democratic nomination last time around, in ’08.
Throughout the race, many Sanders supporters have pointed out how his and sources of fundraising spoke louder than Clinton’s words and record of accepting donations from big banks, private prisons, and fossil fuel companies: “My actions been louder than my words, n**** / How you sold out.”
But at the end of the day, Sanders, Clinton, and the DNC at large seem to have made peace and unified, with both Clinton and the party platform committee adapting many progressive reforms like tuition-free public college, a public option for healthcare, a $15 minimum wage, and most recently, a path to marijuana legalization. “Whole squad on that real shit,” indeed
Original by Kylie Cheung @kylietcheung