Apparently unwilling to let Tom Hanks hold the “famous people we’re all too parasocially invested in reveal their middle-of-the-road musical tastes” crown for even a single day, former President/ascendant DJ Barack Obama has just released one of his periodic music lists. Specifically, Obama deployed, with drone-esque precision, his Summer 2021 playlist today, a mix of new and old music and also, of course, at least one song from a TV show that he, himself, produced.
That would be Brandi Carlile’s “Speak Your Mind,” from the soundtrack of the Obama-produced Netflix series We The People, a sort of modern spin on Schoolhouse Rock. It’s not a bad little song, mind you, but we’re not sure how well it’d do if we popped it on the stereo while driving to the beach. “Hell yeah,” we and the assembled bros would sing. “This is the freedom of press!” “There is only one wall built with wisdom, it’s the wall between church and the state!” Fuck yeah, dudes.
Obama’s picks feature plenty of predictable oldies (Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, and Smokey Robinson are all represented, as is, inevitably, Drake.) But there’s also a decent dosage of new artists who Barack Obama, a 59-year-old man, definitely, actually listened to, including Masked Wolf’s high-energy “Astronaut In The Ocean.” The list also features 2021 tracks from Migos (off of the recently released Culture III), Bruno Mars, and Nezi, and, again: It’s actually a pretty solid listen, give-or-take your stance on the musical stylings of Chicago. The only real stumbling block here is going to occur in the head of the listener, i.e., whether the ethos of pop culture invincibility that surrounded Obama’s appearance as the Cool Dad President has persisted in the five years since he left office, or whether the idea of the Mixtape Leader Of The Free World has run its course.