I really love this New York Times Magazine infographic on how to accomplish the rather difficult task of DJing a political campaign event without offending the candidate, the audience, or running afoul of cranky artists. Attention to lyrics are at the top of the list:
There are obvious songs to stay away from — Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘‘Fortunate Son’’ for Romney, Public Enemy’s ‘‘Fear of a Black Planet’’ for Obama, Tom Jones’s ‘‘Sex Bomb’’ for Gingrich — but seemingly innocuous tracks also have to be vetted for double meaning. (Campaigns sometimes give D.J.’s specific playlists to avoid trouble.) ‘‘For Herman Cain, especially, I didn’t use anything with sexual overtones,’’ says John Donahue, who has also spun for Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman. ‘‘A couple of songs on my list at his last rally were great, like this one upbeat Christina Aguilera song with the chorus ‘Ain’t no other man can stand up next to you.’ But the lyrics talk about calling your lover, so I didn’t play it.’’
I also think it’s telling what the Donahue suggest if the factors are just too complicated to get creative: ‘‘Play upbeat country. It’s usually got patriotic overtones. If ‘America’ is in the title, even better.’’ I saw a lot of complaints during the Grammys about how much country music was included in the ceremony given that it’s a genre with its own powerful infrastructure and awards shows. But increasingly, I think hip-hop and country are more the dominant consensus genres in this country, given both their free-standing success and their infiltration of pop and rock. I’m curious if Donahue, who DJs for conservative candidates, would give the same advice for Democratic rallies, or if he thinks country is solidly red and other genres are solidly blue.