The Artist For The Age Of Obama

When I wrote my previous post on Girl Talk, I couldn't help but feel parallels between his music and the cultural atmosphere surrounding Obama.   At age 46, Obama certainly isn't a Millennial.  But his campaign, and its throngs of young fans and volunteers, embodies that generation in so many ways.  Obama is a young, diverse, and unique politician who's running an innovative, grassroots campaign that thrives offs the Internet.   Girl Talk is a young, innovative, Internet-based artist whose level of sampling is unique and extremely diverse -- racially and stylistically.  And both Obama and Girl Talk draw from the same main sources: African-Americans and young liberal whites. Incidentally, nearly half of the songs on Obama's iPod -- including Jay-Z, Elton John, and the Stones -- are sampled on GT's last two albums.

Also, I couldn't help but recall a great essay Reihan wrote on "rickrolling" -- when someone booby-traps a link directed to the music video for Rick Astley's 1987 hit song, "Never Gonna Give You Up."  In a critique of the video, he wrote:

His skin is a ghostly white.... And although he is pale and British, he sounds ... black and American. ... Astley could be condemned for appropriating a primarily black form of musical expression. But not only was he not condemned -- he was embraced by music-lovers of all colors.... The earnestness and lack of self-consciousness contrasts with the paralyzing cynicism of our own time. What we're seeing is the promise of a post-racial future, in which color distinctions melt away in the white heat (so to speak) of Astley's soulful vocals. Could it be that Rick Astley's 'Never Gonna Give You Up' is the soundtrack for the Age of Obama?

Not to totally ape Reihan, but: Could it be that Girl Talk is the artist for the Age of Obama? Like Astley, Gregg Gillis is a geeky-looking white guy (he was a biomedical engineer, after all).   Yet his grasp on hip-hop (the genre that dominates GT's sound) and his ability to weave it through an array of subgenres (namely, the seemingly-incompatible genre of indie rock) is truly remarkable.  Incidentally, "Never Gonna Give You Up" is on the seventh track of GT's latest album, so you get RickRolled every time you listen.