The Governor of Jalisco pushed the “Red Button” two weeks ago, closing down all live music (and pretty much everything else) and then extended it yesterday to Feb 12. So, while my LA friends are enjoying outdoor dining, maybe with a guitarist/singer, I am home with a laptop, a dog, a loving wife, and Netflix. Could be worse, but I can’t tell you about all concerts here in Mexico because there aren’t any.
So, let’s talk about the new President and Vice President and music.
Although we have only just finished the first full week of the new Biden-Harris administration (seems like years!) I am still getting songs about, for, and to the President. Of course, the President made news, as Presidents often do, when he quoted a line from the song “American Anthem”, written by Gene Scheer and sung at the Bush inauguration and for Bill and Hillary Clinton at the Smithsonian. Most people recognized it from the Norah Jones track in a Ken Burns documentary or the cover by Patti LaBelle.
But in terms of actual songs and not just quotes from them, the Biden-Harris inauguration was a veritable cornucopia of music. From a special inauguration playlist put up by Spotify, to the Zoom concert moderated b y Tom Hanks, it was all music, end to end, everywhere – on the usual multiple live stages due to Covid and security concerns.
But that did not stop the music programmers who kept us entertained before, during, and at least 2 weeks after the inauguration. We have been treated to Justin Timberlake’s song “Better Days”, an NPR music special of music for inaugurations, John Legend playing “Feel Good” and the 2009 Miley Cyrus hit “Party in the USA”. We got “Biden and Harris,” a loving rap by King Reggie, and the “Biden” instrumental by Dombrance . And the not exactly positive but still popular “Donald Trump vs Joe Biden Rap Battle” by Epic Rap Battles of History, and the infamous but still heavily streamed “FDT” by YG, featuring Nipsey Hussle.
Not to mention the happy dances all over the country, including one by Jewish citizens in Philly to klezmer music.
A lot of “presidential” songs came across my desk (actually, into my computer and phone) this and last week, offering advice, love, congratulations and expressing relief and happiness over the new Administration. Two that caught my attention were “Mr. President” by the South African/American pop singer Binx, and “If I Was President” by the LA-based, bilingual jarocho/cumbia/ alt rock Latin band Las Cafeteras.
“If I were President” is a rap recitation of what the band members would do if they were the occupant of the White House – really advice to its new occupant. From free college to forgiving student loans to protecting peoples’ right to vote, they have detailed policy recommendations for the new Administration, all delivered in addictive rap.
Binx takes a different approach. She utilizes her accent and unique voice, plus her songwriting chops and production skills deliver an electronic pop love song with some lofty goals like end the wars snuck into addictive electronic beats and melodic lines. And then she slipped in the very practical “I know you will accept my accent” at the end.
The two songs represent two ends of the Biden music I have received – this is what we want from you and you are what we need now. I suspect there will more. I hope so, because politics in the US has gotten very difficult and music always helps.
(Katy Perry photo from MSNBC broadcast)
Patrick O’Heffernan, Host Music Sin Fronteras
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