There are two ways to look at campaign playlists. The first is that it's just a bunch of songs that have a lively enough beat to keep the crowd energetic and happy. The second is that every single artist and tune is selected to subtly communicate messages about the candidate and his policies. The Atlantic Wire prefers the second option, because it is more interesting. Both President Obama's and Mitt Romney's playlists are designed to appeal to people who might be skeptical of them. Obama's tracks are meant to not scare white people. Romney's are picked to win over to people he'll never understand: the Republican base.
President Obama's campaign playlist contained a few gems, but it was shockingly safe. Sure, it has a variety of artists -- neo-soul and country pop! -- but within each category, the campaign made the safest selection possible. Most notably, the songs by black artists were really old -- Al Green, Aretha Franklin -- or neo-soul like Raphael Saadiq, whom Pitchfork described as an artist who thinks 1960s soul sounds "don't need to be revived, resurrected, retrofitted, or revitalized. They just need to be played." The country songs, on the other hand, were really new -- bland Nashville pop like Sugarland, whose "Everyday America" music video literally takes place in a supermarket aisle. No country classics like Johnny Cash, who was, after all, the author of that criminal-coddling classic "Man in Black."