You can learn a lot about a person from their playlists.
The first three songs on one Spotify user’s “Vote Trump” playlist are “Hail to the King,” “Nightmare,” and “Bat Country,” all by California metal band Avenged Sevenfold. Next up are six more Avenged Sevenfold songs, followed by “Monster” by Christian rock band Skillet, then “Enter Sandman” and “Nothing Else Matters,” both by Metallica.
A Spotify playlist by the Clinton campaign opens on a Stevie Wonder song, a track from the Will Smith movie “Hitch,” and Ricky Martin’s “La Bomba”. Both playlists are—objectively and apolitically—very bad.
More than a year into their respective campaigns, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s election operations have long since settled into easily recognizable tropes: Clinton’s campaign is an obsessively managed (if somewhat uninspiring) production, complete with a slick social media presence. Donald Trump’s campaign is a careening Twitter screed, powered by memes forged in the depths of once-fringe forums. The candidates’ Spotify presences are no different.
No one makes pro-Clinton Spotify playlists. No one has ever laced up their running shoes and hit play on a motivational mix of Hillary-inspired jogging tunes. No one complies an “I’m With Her” setlist for their road trip. Hillary Clinton just isn’t that kind of candidate.
Instead, Clinton playlists fall into two camps: staffer-crafted playlists with thousands of subscribers, uploaded to the official Hillary Clinton Spotify account; and anti-Clinton playlists with titles like “hillary clinton is a reptile.” The pro-Clinton playlists are an aggressively inoffensive mix of soft-rock and easy-listening pop, with a large, tame following.
The anti-Clinton camp titles its playlists “Hilary Clinton for Prison” [sic] and uploads parody songs like Tommy Vale’s “Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Hillary” (sample lyric: “everybody’s talkin’ ’bout women’s liberation/equal pay and equal rights fought for long ago/the FBI has Hillary under investigation/that’s why friends don’t let friends vote Hillary”.)
It’s a familiar narrative. Hillary Clinton is widely viewed as either a prison-bound Lucifer-lover, or a safe, slightly boring option.
Consider “Fight Song”. Rachel Platten’s 2015 pop hit has become an unofficial theme song for the Clinton campaign (it’s the last track on the Spotify “Official Hillary 2016 Playlist). The saccharine tune featured at every Clinton event, inspiring bipartisan complaints on social media. Most people seem to agree that “Fight Song” is unobjectionable in its focus group-approved, generically inspirational message. But please, please, enough of it already.
The Trump campaign doesn’t have an official Spotify account. Of course the Trump campaign doesn’t have an official Spotify account. If a social media manager were ever to wrest Donald Trump’s devices from his tiny hands, his or her primary concern would be ensuring the candidate stopped tweeting anti-Semitic images, not setting up an official Trump Spotify.
But just as 4chan, 8chan, racist redditors, and white supremacist Twitter users churn out pro-Trump memes at an industrial pace, unpaid Spotify users apply their talents toward building out a litany of pro-Trump playlists.
Donald Trump Spotify is a strange place. Once you sort through the more than 20 “Fuck Donald Trump” playlists, and the wealth of Trump-inspired songs produced before his campaign announcement (see: Mac Miller’s 2011 song “Donald Trump” and Rae Sremmurd’s 2015 “Up Like Trump”), you find a mix of music that is equal parts adoring parody song, apocalyptic doomcore, and One Republic.
It’s an appropriate soundtrack for dancing into endtimes. A “Donald Trump <3” playlist opens on “Into the Grey” by Icon for Hire, “In the End” by Linkin Park, and most bleakly of all “Handlebars” by Flobots. A “<3 Trump” playlist by another user is just a 117.5-hour mix of Ozzy Osbourne, 311, Marilyn Manson, and similar artists.
Maybe Donald Trump would approve. Well known for playing closing out his rallies to the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” Trump reportedly signs off on all his campaign playlists. “Remember,” a Trump volunteer in charge of music told the New Yorker, “the more inappropriate for a political event, the better.”
But will Trump ever take the stage to Avenged Sevenfold’s “Bat Country”? After arriving at the Republican National Convention with a fog-lit entrance similar to that of professional wrestler The Undertaker, the scenario is no longer difficult to imagine.
Until then, he’ll have scores of internet fans making pro bono pro-Trump content. Hillary Clinton will have “Fight Song.”