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Obama releases summer playlists on Spotify via Twitter

President Obama releases summer playlists on Spotify Photograph: (AFP)

AFP New York Aug 12, 2016, 10.45 AM (IST)

How have Barack Obama's musical tastes changed in his last year in the White House? Judging from his playlists, he is getting into more indie rock.

Obama on Thursday for the second year in a row released summer playlists on streaming service Spotify, revealing what's on his speakers as he relaxes with his family on an annual holiday to tony Martha's Vineyard. Like the previous year, Obama's two playlists, one for daytime and one for nighttime listening, have plenty of classics including songs from Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Miles Davis and The Beach Boys.

But he also showed a taste for indie rock this year. He listed "Elevator Operator" by Courtney Barnett, the Australian songwriter who has recently built a strong if niche following with her droll lyricism. Obama also picked "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, indie rockers who incidentally were prominent campaigners for former Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders.


While most of Obama's musical choices steered clear of politics, an exception was "Forever Begins" by the Chicago rapper Common, a track produced by Kanye West that delves into the civil rights struggle and touches on gun violence. The president also chose Fiona Apple's 1997 hit "Criminal", a song often interpreted as feminist with its theme of male fragility in the face of female sexuality.

Obama did not confine his selections to US artists. He chose a track by Caetano Veloso, a prominent figure in Brazil's tropicalia movement and outspoken critic of the country's former military dictatorship.

Obama chose Veloso's version of "Cucurrucucu Paloma", an often-covered Mexican song of longing that was popularised in part by Harry Belafonte, the US singer also active in leftist politics. Also on one of Obama's playlists was "Me Gustas Tu" by Manu Chao, the Parisian singer of Spanish descent known for his attacks on globalisation.

Other prominent artists whose tracks have Obama's ear include pop superstar Janet Jackson, reclusive R&B sensation D'Angelo, soul singer Janelle Monae and blues rocker Gary Clark Jr. Obama has often spoken of his love of discovering music and has invited artists to the White House, including the late pop icon Prince and politically conscious rapper Kendrick Lamar.

Here are the playlists in full: 

Obama's Summer Playlist: Daytime

“LoveHate Thing” – Wale

“Smooth Sailin'” – Leon Bridges

“Elevator Operator” – Courtney Barnett

“Home” – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

“Many the Miles” – Sara Bareilles

“Tightrope” – Janelle Mon?e

“Classic Man” – Jidenna

“So Ambitious” – Jay Z feat. Pharrell

“Me Gustas Tu” – Manu Chao

“Forever Begins” – Common

“The Man” – Aloe Blacc

“As We Enter” – Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley

“Sinnerman” – Nina Simone

“U Got the Look” – Prince

“Rock Steady” – Aretha Franklin

“Good Vibrations” – Beach Boys

“Don’t Owe You A Thang” – Gary Clark Jr.

“Man Like That” – Gin Wigmore

“II B.S. (edit)” – Charles Mingus

Obama's Summer Playlist: Night

“If I Have My Way” – Chrisette Michele

“Espera” – Esperanza Spalding

“Tell It Like It Is” – Aaron Neville

“Alright” – Ledisi

“Trapped By A Thing Called Love” – Denise LaSalle

“Lady” – D’Angelo

“So Very Hard to Go” – Tower of Power

“Midnight Sun” – Carmen McCrae

“Cucurrucuc? ?Paloma” – Caetano Veloso

“Green Aphrodisiac” – Corinne Bailey Rae

“I’ll Be There for You / You’re All I Need” – Mary J. Blige / Method Man

“Lover Man” – Billie Holiday

“Criminal” – Fiona Apple

“Acid Rain” – Chance the Rapper

“My Funny Valentine” – Miles Davis

“Do You Feel Me” – Anthony Hamilton

“I Get Lonely” – Janet Jackson

“Lean In” – Lizz Wright

“All Day Music” – War

“Say Yes” – Floetry


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