WIRED Suggests Updated Theme Songs for Presidential Hopefuls

Casey Chin; Biden by Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Warren by Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Booker by Dustin Chambers/Getty Images; Harris by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Last weekend, some of the Democratic presidential candidates were in Iowa for the party's Hall of Fame dinner. During the event, 19 hopefuls made their case to the party in search of support. As they did so, their campaigns got to pick a song for them to walk out to. Many of the choices were inspired—Elizabeth Warren 's choice of "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton was very on-brand—but others were just perplexing. (New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio picked The Clash's "Rudie Can't Fail," which is funny if it's a shot at former New York's former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, but doesn't quite make sense since it's also about beer with breakfast.) All told, the Gen X mix CD of songs the candidates used was fine, but we decided those presidential hopefuls could use some better, and more current, tracks. Below are the current Democratic frontrunners, and some hits from Billboard's Hot 100 that could really give their campaigns a much-needed up-with-people boost.

Cory Booker: "A Lot," 21 Savage

If you're Senator Cory Booker, you'll likely think that 21's rhetorical-question hook is the perfect vehicle to prove your bonafides: "How much experience do I have? A lot! How much goodwill did I cultivate as the mayor of Newark? A lot!" But there's another way you could take this choice—one that's a little more reflective of the New Jerseyan's spotlight-seeking shenanigans. "What do you call someone who compares themselves to Spartacus during a congressional hearing? A lot. How about someone who hits the campaign trail looking like a hall monitor? A lot. How much do you think Rosario Dawson regrets claiming someone who exhibits supernatural levels of corniness?" Just speculating here, but … a lot? —Peter Rubin

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Joe Biden: "Old Town Road," Lil Nas featuring Billy Ray Cyrus

Biden didn't show up to the Iowa event, but even in absentia he tops the polls in that state. America's fun uncle doesn't even seem to have picked an official campaign song of his own yet, walking out in past events to his former boss Barack Obama's 2012 song, "We Take Care of Our Own" by Bruce Springsteen. The message Biden's been sending is: You know me! Familiar as an old pair of shoes, smell you can't get rid of and all. Sure, I give people uncomfortable back rubs! But I love trains! And I may flip-flop on key Democractic platform issues, but Obama and I made viral-internet catnip friendship bracelets once, cuz I'm still hip! The cowboy rap anthem "Old Town Road" sums up Biden's whole schtick: Like him, it tops the charts, and it's about an old way of doing things that's classically American, but updated for the Yeehaw Agenda times by Lil Nas. Plus, the chorus—"Can't nobody tell me nothin', You can't tell me nothin'"—fits Biden's refusal to listen to the many progressives who begged him not to run. He showed them. Now he can take his horse down the old town road, and ride 'til he can't no more. —Emily Dreyfuss

Elizabeth Warren: "ME!" Taylor Swift feat. Brendon Urie

As mentioned above, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren had the most inspired musical choice at the Hall of Fame dinner. But if she doesn't stick with Dolly Parton's feminist anthem, Taylor Swift's latest hit is a strong contender to be the theme track for the Warren 2020 campaign. Sung with Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco, the song—particularly the styling on its title: "ME!"—calls to mind the fact that Warren has been here, in the pack, for a long time, just begging to be discovered. To the best of our knowledge, she's never, as Swift's song states, gone "psycho on the phone" or not thought before she jumps, but when it comes to a long tenure as a public servant, there's none like her—and there's a lot of cool chicks out there. —Angela Watercutter

Beto O'Rourke: "Beer Never Broke My Heart," Luke Combs

Though he's been slumping for months, the beleaguered Texas Cruzader remains convinced he can win by fixing his sleepy brown eyes on every single American, somehow all at once. "This campaign is about showing up everywhere, for everyone, every single day," he told Rachel Maddow. "Beto for America, Beto for All," goes his slogan. "Beer Never Broke My Heart," is the everyman ballad of Beto. "I've had a largemouth bass bust my line," Combs croons, i.e. Beto's folksy way of saying he's moved on from Ted Cruz. "Trucks break down" (his beloved Tundra, shlepping him from town hall to town hall), "dogs run off" (shrinking poll numbers), "politicians lie" (ever-demure, Beto will let you fill in the blank). At rallies, Beto would stomp his scuffed Stetsons and drawl the bridge, "It takes one hand to count the things I can count on," and point his swooping index finger right at everyone. O'Rourke could even score much-needed bonus points with the electorate by having his old punk band Foss cover the track. —Zak Jason

Kamala Harris: "Act Up," City Girls

Since announcing her presidential bid, Kamala Harris' tenure as California attorney general has remained a point of ongoing friction (she was the first black woman to hold the post). She's braved heat from both liberals and conservatives who say her record as a prosecutor contradicts her more recent rebranding as a progressive Democrat. Critics have vilified her as historically "tough on crime," but she's always quick to clap back and clear the air, saying she's "smart on crime." As only the second black woman to serve in the United States Senate, Harris has come up against many a fight, but she's weathered the heretics like a true pro—with poise, passion, and just the right amount of backbone. It's what makes the City Girls anthem "Act Up" such a fitting selection. I can almost hear Harris on the trunk-throbbing hook, putting President Trump and his goons on notice: "Act up, you can get snatched up!" —Jason Parham

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