Who remembers Bill Clinton’s soulful sax rendition of “Heartbreak Hotel” on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1992? Or Bob Dole strutting across the rally stage to Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man” in 1996? Or even Barack Obama crooning a verse of Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together” as his 2012 reelection campaign moved into full swing?
Americans remember each iconic image and its accompanying soundtrack because in such moments, the candidate establishes not only his own character, but the character of the American presidency. The 2016 presidential candidates have similarly attempted to constitute their identity in sound in various campaign contexts, including rallies, fundraising concerts and speeches. From Hillary Clinton’s girl power playlists, to Donald Trump’s affinity for show tunes, to Marco Rubio’s EDM obsession, this presentation, sponsored by the Department of History and Georgraphy as well as the Center for Georgia Studies, will examine the cultural and political significance of the 2016 soundscape.