Better Campaign Songs & Opinions on The Avalanches

It's not a political rally without a crowd-pumping and uplifting playlist. But political campaign teams are not always great music tastemakers. NPR's National Political Correspondent Don Gonyea talks with Jim and Greg about hearing the same songs over and over on the campaign trail. Then they play campaign managers and make a list of better campaign theme songs. Plus, a review of the long-awaited second album from The Avalanches.

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Music News

It has been a wrenching couple of weeks. More videos have surfaced of black men shot to death by police officers, the murder of five police officers in Dallas and all of it resulting in mass demonstrations in cities across the country. Musicians like Miguel, Jay-Z, Ariana Grande and others have released new music in reaction as part of the broader Black Lives Matter movement. Greg and Jim explore the history of musical reaction to tragic events going back to the Kent State shootings in 1970.

NPR’s Don Gonyea

Don Gonyea

For more than 20 years, NPR National Political Correspondent Don Gonyea has covered presidential campaigns. And in that time Don has had to suffer through horrendous sound tracks used to the introduce the candidates. Don tells Jim and Greg that covering a campaign across the country means you hear the same songs over and over and over. Sometimes you find a new appreciation for the music (Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours") and sometimes it leaves you scratching your head (Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend"?). Don shares his memories of campaign songs and offers a better choice of his own.

Photo Credit: © NPR 2004 Photo by Steve Barrett

Better Campaign Songs

Presidential candidates keep reusing the same generically inspirational anthems (Springsteen, Mellencamp, U2, etc.) on the campaign trail. They rarely seem to pay attention to what the lyrics of the songs are actually about. So Jim and Greg are offering their services as political consultants to help freshen up the campaign rallies. Here are their picks for campaign songs that candidates should use as they run for office:


  • Bob Marley & The Wailers, "Get Up, Stand Up"
  • Patti Smith, "People Have the Power"
  • Iggy Pop & The Stooges, "I Got a Right"
  • Elton John, "Philadelphia Freedom"


  • Ani DiFranco, "¿Which Side Are You On?"
  • Johnny Nash, "I Can See Clearly Now"
  • The O’Jays, "Love Train"
  • Primal Scream, "Movin’ On Up"

Wildflower The Avalanches


For the first time in 16 years, electronic act The Avalanches has released a new album. Wildflower is the follow-up to the Australian group's successful debut, Since I Left You. As on that influential first record, the new album features songs seemingly built on thousands of samples. This time around, though, the group is teaming up with several collaborators. Greg enjoyed Wildflower, and pointed out that he's a fan of The Avalanches' Day-Glo, positive energy. However, he thinks the numerous guest cameos from artists like Biz Markie, Danny Brown, and Ariel Pink are hit-and-miss. Overall, Greg is a fan of The Avalanches' quirky sound, but gives this record a Try It. Jim is a little more excited about this album, and compares it to watching Saturday morning cartoons as a kid. He thinks that this record might not be for everyone, but you should Buy It and see for yourself.

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