GOP Playlist


THESE GUYS WANT to rock you. They really do. I mean, in a completely non-sexual way. Truly the only knob Mitt Rombot Candidate 2012 and Paul Randy Ryan want you to grab, the only handle they want you to pull, is the one behind the curtain on Election Day. (Assuming you have the proper I.D. and time.) The GOP knows the only way to get you to the polls and make you hungry to cast your vote is to get you PSYCHED. That’s right. PUMPED UP!

For that, they need music. The GOP have always had a dilly of a time finding music for their campaigns from the days of Barry Goldwater being deprived of the pleasure of retooling “Hello Dolly” to be used as “Hello Barry” to the Mitt Rombot just being served a cease and desist notice by the Silversun Pickups demanding the campaign stop turning on their “Panic Switch” without their permission.

Well, what is the GOP suppose to do if the only musicians they can get in bed with are Country, Christian, or dead? They’ve already locked up those votes. And it’s not exactly the sort of music that gets the masses up on their chairs shaking their big We’re-Number-One foam fingers. They’ve had to poach songs for their own personal campaign use without a thought to getting approval or permission from the artists because they know they’re going to get rejected. You have to grab what you can, take the slap and move on.

It’s not at all surprising to me that one of the songs that George W. Bush tried to make off with in his race against Al Gore was Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”.  A song whose title perfectly captures W’s spoiled child-like refusal to listen to logic or reason, coupled with a tenacious ignorance, dangerous ego and powerful will to do what ever the hell he wanted—a song whose title seems prescient now when you consider the hanging chad mess, the recounts. Gore blinked.

I hate to see people in a pickle, so I’m going to do my bit to help out the GOP. I’m going to start by DJing the convention. Given that Day One has been rained out, while people file into the hall, I’m going to spin “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by The Scorpions. “Here I am rocking like a hurricane!” It’s got that testosteroney, earth shaking, power-of-the-gods energy these Eagle Scouts are sorely lacking. Plus, I think the joke in this (always better to have people laugh with, rather than at you, right Mittens?) would be a crowd pleaser.

Mitt Rombot Candidate 2012 will take the stage to Styx’s “Mr. Roboto.” The crowd, mostly made up of people who only know how to do the Electric Slide and Cotton Eye Joe, will do the robot as they chant in Japanese, “Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto!” Thank you very much, Mr. Robot!

Mitt Romney attempts the watusi.

In preparation for former Prom King and running mate Paul Ryan’s approach, the music should be turned up, lest The Rombot repeat the gaffe of introducing Paul Ryan as “the next President of the United States” instead of “Vice President.”

As the music swells, Ryan stalks onto stage to “If I Could Turn Back Time” by Cher. You know what he’s thinking: “Hey Girl, if I could turn back time I’d take you back to the age of the dinosaurs and show you Jesus riding on the back of a dinosaur. If I could turn back time I’d make sure that you ladies never got the vote, or library cards, or hell even got to wear pants.”

A song that wouldn’t be exactly right here, but it’s in heavy rotation in the GOP’s He-man Woman-hater’s clubhouse, (and a hit with the Fetuses First Women Last! coalition) would be Paul Anka’s “You’re Having My Baby.” That’s right. You’re having my baby regardless of whether you want to or not. Whether you were raped by a friend or your father. You’re having my baby, whether it’s born with severe physical or neurological birth defects, or dead. You’re having my baby even if it means you die in the process.

Okay, transitioning here into a more general theme song, I’m thinking the theme of money would be money. Everybody wants it, only ten percent have it. I want to bank on Pink Floyd’s “Money”, but I’m a little tentative. Because of the GOP’s history with trying to milk the populist teat by co-opting songs about ordinary folks struggling to make a living. Here, Roger Waters’ suggestion, “Get a good job with a good pay and you’re okay” could raise eyebrows and hackles.

However the opening of the song is so seductive, the sound of coins sliding against each other, and being stacked up, the rustle of dollar bills, fistfuls piled on top of each other, the rattle and hum of—is it a cash register, or a slot machine on an Indian casino? You tell me. I tell you if they play “Money” there will not be one un-tented pair of khakis or dry pair of panties in the house. It will be money.

There is also, of course, the Flying Lizards’ “Money”. Not only will the lyrics resonate with the crowd who will be on their feet singing along, “The best things in life are free / But you can give them to the birds and bees / I want money /Give me your money / Just give me money and the fact that the Flying Lizards were a one hit wonder seems appropriate.

Rock musicians have been hammering the GOP for pumping the American Dream since Ronald Reagan got called out by the Boss in 1984 when he took “Born in theUSA” and started using it to sell his “message of hope.” (Did he assume from the title that it was a rousing anti-immigration protest song?) Had anyone actually listened to the song, they’d have realized it wasn’t a message of hope at all but what Springsteen would call “a response to the need people to feel hopeful about their country.” However, he said, “what’s happening, I think, is that that need — which is a good thing — is getting manipulated and exploited. You see in the Reagan election ads on TV, you know, ‘It’s morning in America,’ and you say, ‘Well, it’s not morning in Pittsburgh.” Stinger!

In 2004, W caught hell from Mr. Patriotic Rock Anthem John Cougar Mellencamp for trying to sell himself, as a guy you’d want to have a beer with and a person who could spell at a first grade level, by using “R-O-C-K in the U.S.A” John McCain has taken heavy shelling for his appropriation of songs. In 2008 Jackson Browne took McCain to court over tapping his hit “Running on Empty” and won an undisclosed amount. Despite having lost his “Cougar,” John Mellencamp went after McCain for rallying his troops with “Our Country” and “Pink Houses” and the Foo Fighters lit into him when he took “My Hero,” written the band said “as a celebration of the common man, and his extraordinary potential.” Most recently, Tom Morello, lead singer of Rage Against the Machine, Paul Ryan’s favorite band, penned an epic slap down in Rolling Stone. Morello, a vocal Occupy Wall Street activist, called Ryan “the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades.” OUCH. Is that really necessary?

Paul Ryan doing "Killing in the Name" at Capitol Hill Karaoke Night.

Talk about piling on. Days ago Dee Snider, permy-haired lead singer of the heavy metal glam band Twisted Sister, issued a cease and desist order to the Romney campaign for playing the band’s controversial hit, the bratty rant, “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” at rallies. “There is almost nothing [Paul Ryan] stands for that I agree with, except the use of P90X,” Snider said.

Spare me. You would think that Twisted Sister, a band singled out by Tipper Gore and the PMRC for being violent and offensive, would be able to take a joke. If nothing else ladies, I mean, gentlemen, appreciate the irony here.

In a pinch we could grab Peter Gabriel’s smash hit, “Sledgehammer”. That works on a number of levels doesn’t it? Mitt Rombot and Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand fan boy, make the argument that welfare should be dismantled and replaced by private charity. Charity. Ha! Suggesting that the poor rely on the kindness of wealthy strangers—like themselves—is the height of hypocrisy. As is the Social-Security-busting Ryan crowing about self-reliance when he was only able to afford college because of the Social Security benefits he received after his father died.

Oh, why pretend we even live in a meritocracy! Grow up children. That ship has sailed. Don’t have shoes? Pull your self up by your imaginary boot straps.

As a Christian, a Catholic, Ryan was raised to believe in the virtue of charity. Although Rand, his guru, abhorred Christianity for its focus on such trifles as charity, kindness, and love for thy neighbor because all come at the expense—literally—of the exalted individual. So how does Ryan balance his burning desire to scrap all social programs in favor of letting the poor battle each other for the bones tossed from the penthouse roofs of Wall Street fatties, with being a good Catholic who doesn’t turn to The Fountainhead, but the Holy Father for answers? By giving a whopping 1.2% of his income to charity. That’s right, Paul Ryan gave 1.2% of his income to help those less fortunate than himself. As for Mitt Rombot, well woe on the poor who aren’t Mormons. As a bishop in the Church of Latter Day Saints, The Rombot generously tithes…to his fellow “saints”.

While “Sledgehammer” is good, I wonder—and I digress, if Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” might be even better when Mitt Rombot and Paul Randy Ryan are out on the stump, attacking education reform, Head Start and after-school programs. No more pencils, no more books, no more teaching evolution or sex education.

Oh no. We have a geography problem. Pink Floyd is an English band. Not only that, a famous English band featured in the Olympic closing ceremonies. Wince. (Did anyone see the Romney’s million dollar dancing pony compete?) The Flying Lizards are also from across the pond, as is Peter Gabriel. It won’t work. Egads, after the Rombot’s disastrous lark around London, they will never lend the GOP “Money”, and if the GOP steals “Sledgehammer”—or borrows it without asking, as is usually par for the course—they could get really p-o ed.

The ill-advised McCain and Palin campaign thought they’d hit the jackpot with Heart’s “Barracuda”. In high school, Palin’s basketball team nicknamed her Barracuda for playing dirty. Heart was apoplectic. “Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women,” they said. “We ask that our song ‘Barracuda’ no longer be used to promote her image.” Despite the band’s call for the campaign to stop playing the song, they let “Barracuda” rip at the Republican National Convention after McCain’s acceptance speech. Infuriated, Nancy Wilson went on TV to complain to EW. “I think it’s completely unfair to be so misrepresented. I feel completely fucked over.” As one would, especially since, as Wilson explained at the time, “The song ‘Barracuda’ was written in the late ’70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women.”

Paul Ryan, aka Mr. Fit, claims he likes to get his sweat on to manly heavy metal music. Although he insists he doesn’t listen to the lyrics. So, why not just go for a song with an upbeat driving beat, and lyrics that are nonsensical? Not only can I imagine Paul Ryan rocking out on the treadmill to “The Hamster Song,” but he resembles the slightly manic, wide-eyed Hamtaro featured in the song’s video.

The finale. The exit is easy. Just drop the needle. The song that should play as Mitt Rombot Candiate 2012 and Paul Rand Ryan leave the stage, their cheeks flushed and hearts beating with excitement at having been formally anointed as their party’s candidates: Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer.”


About Elissa Schappell

Elissa Schappell is the author of the short story collections Blueprints for Building Better Girls and Use Me. A former senior editor of The Paris Review, she is the co-founder and editor-at-large of Tin House magazine. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.
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3 Responses to GOP Playlist

  1. Richard Klin says:

    The Democrats have outdone the Republicans in their endless attacks on social- welfare programs–sadism, pure and simple. And I think Elissa is more passionate about the Obama campaign than Barack Obama himself, who has constantly nattered on and on (until this election) about the virtues of bipartisanship.

  2. Jeffro says:

    Maybe the best quote out there: “There is almost nothing [Paul Ryan] stands for that I agree with, except the use of P90X,” [Dee] Snider said.

    Judging by recent comments from Dave “My Brother is Howdy Doody” Mustaine, apparently Megadeth would be welcome on the turntable at the GOP Convention, as would Hank “Are You Ready for Some Racism!” Williams, Jr.

    Ah, Republicans and their every four year usage of songs by creative people who loathe everything for which Republicans stand.

  3. Pingback: Suggestions For the GOP Playlist — The Good Men Project

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