Who Is Arcade Fire? Esperanza Spalding? Obama Knows

We expect a lot from our political leaders, but the one thing we tend not to expect them to be is musically hip.

What with two wars, multiple international crises and the economic downturn to manage, the last thing anyone can reasonably expect from President Obama is that he be downloading the latest from Yeasayer.

But as perplexed Americans from Rosie O'Donnell on down erupted on Twitter in response to Canadian indie group Arcade Fire's Grammy win for Album of the Year last night, asking, "Who is Arcade Fire?", it's worth noting that our president is one person who would know.

To be in politics is to be in constant need of money, and fundraisers need entertainment. As well, Barack Obama was uniquely appealing as a political figure to a range of American -- and international -- cultural figures from the earliest days of his presidential campaign. Arcade Fire was an early support of Obama's presidential bid, playing two concerts for his campaign in March 2008 in Ohio.

There are some pretty low-res clips of the shows on YouTube. From the Cleveland show:



And from the Nelsonville, Ohio, one:



Obama's White House also has proved itself a sophisticated patron of the arts, and during one of its first events, in February 2009, featured Esperanza Spalding -- winner of the Grammy last night for Best New Artist -- performing for the president and first lady:



The performance was broadcast on PBS, on which she was described as "the brightest young star on the jazz horizon."

She returned to the White House in May of that year for its poetry jam:

Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In