August 22, 2019

"So whether or not the music feels true to what Trump actually listens to, the whole scene... evokes a deep sense of what Trump stands for."

"And it feels like this question, which we keep referring to, of authenticity: Trump achieves that on an order of magnitude beyond what anyone else is currently doing on the other side," says Michael Barbaro in today's "The Daily Podcast" at the NYT.

The podcast goes with the NYT article "What Do Rally Playlists Say About the Candidates? Presidential campaigns have a sound. We analyzed the playlists of 10 contenders to see how the songs aligned with the messages." (which I blogged a couple days ago here).

The guest on the podcast is Astead W. Herndon, one of the authors of the article. He responds to Barbaro's prompt:
"We know that each of the candidates is trying to introduce themselves to the public and to stand out from what is a crowded Democratic field and music is one of the ways they try to tell that story. When I think about the scene at Trump rallies, before the speakers begin, when the crowd is doing the 'YMCA,' the Wave, and the dancing, I think that there's actual political value in that energy. And whoever wins on the Democratic side will have to motivate their base in a way that matches or exceeds that level of energy. And it has to be done in a way that seems authentic to who that person is and that is not going to be an easy task."
They have to do it and they will not be able to do it.

Listen to the whole podcast. It's fascinating to hear Barbaro and Herndon puzzle over the strange mix that is Trump's playlist. Why is "Memory" from "Cats" there?! Does Trump listen to "Cats"?! What's with all the Queen? Maybe it's not that Trump listens to Queen, but that the entire mix of the music  embodies something of America that the crowd feels as it dances and sings for hours before the speakers even begin. Maybe it's not the lyrics at all. Barbaro and Herndon don't stop to observe that "Cats" and Queen are totally British, not American at all. They also don't say mention the "surprisingly gay swagger" in Trump's music mix — which was the aspect of the "What Do Rally Playlists Say" article that I chose to blog about.

What's really clear — as you can see in my little transcription and will feel much more if you listen to the podcast — is that Trump's use of music is tremendously effective. It's an "order of magnitude beyond" what the Democratic candidates are doing. The Democratic candidates are trying to say who they are and tell their own story. Joe Biden is the average Joe. Kamala Harris is black. Kirsten Gillibrand is a feminist. They're at the level of introduction and standing out from the others. Obviously, Trump doesn't need to do that. We've known who he is for decades. But it's not just that. Trump isn't saying this is my music. Trump has a big crowd of people who have assembled and who are making a "whole scene" out of themselves that goes on and on long before he steps onto the stage.  None of the Democrats are doing anything like that.

ADDED: It's funny — Trump haters are always saying that Trump makes everything all about him. But Barbaro and Herndon are perceiving that Trump rallies are about the people... the people who love Trump. And maybe they love Trump because he creates a space in which they can love themselves. That's why the slogan is "Make America Great Again" (or "Keep America Great").

(Meanwhile, the Democratic Party idea seems to be "America = racism.")

IN THE COMMENTS: rehajm said, "Trump does this to people":



Are the people doing it to themselves? Green Day didn't make the people sing like that in Hyde Park.

Rehajm adds, "The clown car of Democrats are Joni Mitchell at Atlantic City scolding the audience for not paying attention." Here's my recent post about Atlantic City and Joni. You may remember that. You probably don't remember that back in 2004, when John Kerry lost me, the thing that bothered me the most was when he snapped at a guy and said "You're not listening," and then in 2008, Barack Obama said almost the exact same thing — "The people who say [I am shifting to the center] apparently haven’t been listening to me."

67 comments:

eric said...

Trump is a genius. A very stable genius.

Paul said...

All they need to beat Trump is authenticity. If they can fake that, they've got it made.

rehajm said...

Trump does this to people

The clown car of Democrats are Joni Mitchell at Atlantic City scolding the audience for not paying attention.

Seeing Red said...

I get why “Another One Bites The Dust” would get played.

rehajm said...

Jeez how tough is this? Doesn't everybody know how to participate to YMCA? It's been a stable of crappy wedding bands for nearly three generations...

...and British Live Aid was a dud until Queen took the stage. There's a reason. Hell, I got my geriatric parents to enjoy Bohemian Rhapsody.

Carol said...

This is why he is Literally Hitler. Because Hitler did rallies in a big way too.

If you do rallies, and you're good at it, you're literally Hitler.

Dave Begley said...

The Trump rally music is good. I've been to a Kamala Harris rally. The music wasn't memorable or good. I can barely recall it, but I think it was rap or something equally bad. But then again, I'm not a Harris voter.

Dave Begley said...

I know Ann did her Althousian analysis on Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American." I fairly sure it is played at the Trump rallies.

Sebastian said...

"something of America"

Nah. Just party music that gets people energized (and women in the mood).

"And maybe they love Trump because he creates a space in which they can love themselves"

Yes. Before the chill progs have warned about, including this blog, descends for good.

Michael K said...

He lives in the heads of the Democrats. They cannot stop worrying about him.

Birkel said...

"...seems to be..."

The NYT has announced exactly that.
Althouse plays cruelly neutral and coy!
Good one, Professor.

Michael said...

Surprised d the NYT has not uncovered Tump’s secret love of Wagner.

Fernandistein said...

Anyone playing "Psycho Killer"?

Fernandistein said...

Someone should play it, it's Dahlia Lithwick's theme song:

I can't seem to face up to the facts
I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax
I can't sleep 'cause my bed's on fire
Don't touch me I'm a real live wire

Seeing Red said...

You’re not listening.

No. We don’t like what we heard/hear.

doctrev said...

To be super clear: NO, faking authenticity wouldn't be enough to defeat Trump. It would have been in 2016, but now he has actual accomplishments on his belt. The USMCA trade agreement is the biggest one. If the Democratic House can't pass that, for any reason, it doesn't matter who they nominate: they'll lose the House and Trump will be re-elected. It might not matter even if they pass it, but their corporate masters would never let that happen so the point is moot.

I'm surprised Bernie doesn't have some Rage Against The Machine in his playlist, but the short length makes it obvious that he doesn't care, possibly because he's a serious person and doesn't actually need a consultant-driven music playlist like every other Dem candidate. The fact Donald Trump has a lot of Queen and Elton John in his playlist means the man recognizes quality work, and he's probably been friends with gays in general and Elton in particular before 2012. I guarantee they were travelling in similar circles for at least some years, probably before I was born. Surprised Trump didn't include I'm Still Standing on his Elton playlist, and I'm goddamned intrigued why he chose Candle in the Wind, which is a song tailor made for Princess Diana fans. Maybe there's a mundane explanation- but maybe not.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, everything you wrote after “What’s really clear” shows a lot of insight into the Trump phenomenon. This may be the first time since the 19th century when when we’ve had someone in politics who really does put the people first.

Beasts of England said...

That’s one of the coolest fucking videos I’ve ever seen. Thank you, professor!! 😎

henry said...

the left has problems with agency.

buwaya said...

Hmmm.
The Dems could try playing some Latin music and sprinkle dance teachers in their crowd.
Start with a cha-cha maybe.
Make it a social scene.

J. Farmer said...

Am I the only one who doesn't give a flying fuck about what Trump feels, believes, enjoys, or is repulsed by? Trump the person is completely uninteresting to me. My personal opinion is that Trump has a massively insecure ego in constant need of validation and reassurance. My professional opinion is that I don't have the first damn idea. I have never met the man and would never deign to know what is inside of his mind. I wouldn't even care. If Trump does something I want for nefarious motives, what do I care? If he does something I oppose for noble reasons, so what?

Tommy Duncan said...

Blogger Paul said...

"All they need to beat Trump is authenticity. If they can fake that, they've got it made."

The Soviets were experts at faking authenticity. "They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work" was a popular joke with workers in the Soviet Union.

"They pretend to be authentic and we pretend to cheer" is the standard interaction between Democrat politicians the paid union workers in the crowd.

doctrev said...

Hahahahahahaah! JFarmer, whatever else you feel about Trump, you're confusing "massive" with "insecure" and it's making your argument ridiculous. Yes, Trump has an outsized ego that you usually only find in supervillains and the higher levels of medieval royalty, but tending to his public persona in that obvious, all-consuming way is also the classical function of successful kings. Note well that the searing, multi-trillion Orange Man Bad industry hasn't made a dent in his ego. Anyone else, and I include myself in that, would long since have been reduced to a puddle by this level of directed, overwhelming hatred. Even from complete mongoloids.

You can't study Naziism without the outsize role of Hitler, and you can't pretend to understand modern American nationalism without Trump.

Ficta said...

Didn't get around to saying this in the "Trump's music is sooo gay" thread:

Classic Rock has a reputation now as some sort of white male identity music, which isn't entirely wrong; but, back in the day (late 1970s), best as I can remember it, classic rock fans were generally pleased with their own broad-mindedness. The greatest guitarist of all time was black. Elton John and David Bowie and Freddie Mercury (I mean, cmon, the band is named Queen) and Rod Stewart were known to be gay, and that was just fine. (Not sure where we got that idea about Rod, since he most definitely wasn't gay). It just wasn't a problem. Live and let live. Rock on, man. At least that's how I remember it, but maybe I lead a sheltered life.

Charlie Eklund said...

At Green Day concerts, even the brown acid is good.

traditionalguy said...

I am proud to be and American where at least I know I’m free. That one must infuriate the Muslims no end. It is Infidels showing off that Mo and Al have not successfully enslaved them through stealth jihad leaders like Hussein O’s 8 years. How bitter it must be.

buwaya said...

"Am I the only one who doesn't give a flying fuck about what Trump feels, believes, enjoys, or is repulsed by? "

But these matter, if one is looking at the situation with the eyes of an intelligence analyst, trying to suss out what can or will go down. These also explain much of his tactics, and possibly his strategic goals.

The first requirement of an analyst, an engineer, or any problem solver, is to leave the ego behind, take ones emotions outside and shoot them, and devote all attention to the problem, as a disembodied brain. Get into the zone, where you do not exist, you are just a processing unit in the problem space. This is the zen of analysis.

Whether you give a flying fuck or not about anything then is no longer up to you, but is determined by external information and the state of the models you are trying for fit.

Big Mike said...

... then in 2008, Barack Obama said almost the exact same thing — "The people who say [I am shifting to the center] apparently haven’t been listening to me."

Very early in his administration Barack Obama taught me to ignore what he said and only pay attention to what he did.

tim maguire said...

Green Day didn't make the people sing like that in Hyde Park.

No, Wayne's World did.

Trump is a showman, an entertainer. That's why his rallies are the best. I remember back in late 2015, early 2016, before he was taken seriously as a candidate, liberal journalists loved to go to Trump rallies. They had a great time. It was their stories that made me want to drive hundreds of miles to be at one.

It wasn't until Trump became a serious candidate that having fun at Trump rallies became a bad thing.

doctrev said...

buwaya said...

The first requirement of an analyst, an engineer, or any problem solver, is to leave the ego behind, take ones emotions outside and shoot them, and devote all attention to the problem, as a disembodied brain. Get into the zone, where you do not exist, you are just a processing unit in the problem space. This is the zen of analysis.

Whether you give a flying fuck or not about anything then is no longer up to you, but is determined by external information and the state of the models you are trying for fit.

8/22/19, 1:18 PM

You sound like you might be good at this. A lot of analysts and engineers tend to see problems in isolation, using a very narrow focus on problems, and inevitably coming up short on solutions. An example of how Trump avoids this is in a quartet: Taiwan, Hong Kong, North Korea, and Chinese trade. These four things have been tied to each other, whether China knows that or not. A $8 billion arms sale to Taiwan on top of the billions spent since 2010 has to wake the Chinese up: particularly if they insist on putting down the current revolt in Hong Kong. When you defend everywhere, you are weak everywhere: and Trump is trying to force China into a position of weakness.

buwaya said...

" A lot of analysts and engineers tend to see problems in isolation, using a very narrow focus on problems, and inevitably coming up short on solutions"

This is true. It comes from excessively limiting the problem space.
This is one thing I teach.

Sam L. said...

"Dahlia Lithwick "The Demoralizing Reality of Life Under Trump/Every day is the same, but still awful" (Slate)." For Lefties only. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO not bummed for them.

Michael K said...

What so many seem unable to understand about Trump would be explained pretty well by Conrad Blacks's biography.

One reason for his ability to function in the midst of chaos and hatred may be his history of high stakes negotiations and managing big projects. Like any entrepreneur, he has had failures but, like successful entrepreneurs, he has come back to the top.

Very few big time politicians have ever done big deals. Eisenhower, maybe Hoover but that was a long time ago. Who else since Grant ? Grant was a small town boy.

Roy Lofquist said...

Blogger J. Farmer said...
My personal opinion is that Trump has a massively insecure ego in constant need of validation and reassurance.


Paul (Dizzy) Dean said ...
It ain't bragging if you can do it.

Martin said...

:And it has to be done in a way that seems authentic..."

SEEMS authentic, because none of the Democratic candidates with the possible exception of Sanders actually IS authentic. So the best they can do is fool people long enough to win.

bagoh20 said...

""The people who say [I am shifting to the center] apparently haven’t been listening to me."

Talk is cheap - walk the vote.

Leland said...

The thing in common with those songs in their lasting success. Trump loves success, and that is what these songs are. "Bohemian Rhapsody" has charted in the top 10 at some point across 3 decades. "Memory" had success as a single as well as part of the musical "Cats", and "Cats" has had success across decades and about to become a movie, again. I don't know what is so difficult to understand when the guy tells you he likes winning that he likes winning and winners.

Darrell said...

All the Democratic Presidential candidates can fart out the Internationale without even eating a single bean.

rehajm said...

My personal opinion is that Trump has a massively insecure ego in constant need of validation and reassurance

That's the classic Trump criticism without much merit to back it up. Consider the possibility there's a bit of an act going on...

Saint Croix said...

Maybe it's not the lyrics at all.

When I was a kid I thought Pete Townshend was singing, Let Milo Open the Door.

Fernandistein said...

My personal opinion is that Trump has a massively insecure ego in constant need of validation and reassurance. My professional opinion is that I don't have the first damn idea.

Why isn't your personal opinion the same as your professional opinion?

Fernandistein said...

"massively insecure ego validation reassurance"

Do those terms have useful definitions or metrics?

Big Mike said...

Am I the only one who doesn't give a flying fuck about what Trump feels, believes, enjoys, or is repulsed by?

Probably.

Drago said...

It is very very important to Farmer that everyone has a crystal clear and fully detailed understanding of just how much Farmer doesnt care about any of this and he is willing to expend whatever effort is required to ensure that information is spread far and wide to all who would lend an ear.

narciso said...

barbaro was the one obsessed over rubio's speedboat, among other things in the primaries,

narciso said...

a brief assortment of chocolates,

https://www.newsbusters.org/people-organizations/michael-barbaro

EDH said...

Did anyone notice this Wayne's World reference by Mike Myers in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody?

That's the kind of song teenagers can crank up the volume in their car and bang their heads to.

'Bohemian Rhapsody' will never be that song.

rehajm said...

Green Day didn't make the people sing like that in Hyde Park

It might be splitting hairs. Trump. Green Day. Queen. The higher point is any of the other candidate options inspiring a collective humanity like that? I could imagine a Bevy of Bernie Bros jamming to Phish and drinking Heady Topper but if someone tried to explain what was happening to Bernie he'd just whinge about too many fish choices at the deli or something.

Ken B said...

Farmer
You seem to care enough to have formed an opinion. Or did you form your opinion without paying any attention to Trump?

Szoszolo said...

Just listened to the whole thing and what struck me most was how surprisingly even-handed it was. You know, for the NY Times.

Amadeus 48 said...

Trump is a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in an enigma. He offers everything to everyone. You can love him; you can hate him. Farmer says he is indifferent to him. Will he split the votes of black people? Will he draw hispanics to his vision? Will suburban ladies in the white wine brigade do him in? Is he a billionaire? Is he a fake? How can he be so unpopular? How can he take credit for the success of his policies? Didn’t Obama do all the hard work? Who’s Obama? What did Obama ever do except look good and fail?

There’s no help for it. 2020 will be the greatest show on earth. If Joe Biden is the Dem, Trump will have him boasting that Joe personally captured John Brown at Harper’s Ferry and that Joe told JFK not to go to Dallas.

rehajm said...

That's the kind of song teenagers can crank up the volume in their car and bang their heads to.

Hearing Myers talk about Bohemian with Marc Maron's show makes that scene in the movie that much sweeter...

Myers fought for Bohemian Rhapsody

rehajm said...

So maybe is was Mike Myers what brought us all together...

DavidD said...

buwaya said...
Hmmm.
The Dems could try playing some Latin music and sprinkle dance teachers in their crowd.

Maybe a conga line.

They’d even be able to leverage it post-election on deplorables, if they won. Maybe better call it a Congo line, though....

John henry said...

Blogger Michael K said...

Like any entrepreneur, he has had failures but, like successful entrepreneurs, he has come back to the top.

The typical failure rate for businesses, products, ideas, inventions in the US is about 15 failures (or more) out of 20 tries.

Donald Trump has more or less reversed that in his career. His batting average is more like 15 successes out of 20 tries.

Still waiting for someone to give me the names of some people who lost money in his bankruptcies. (From a previous thread that was never answered)

John Henry

John henry said...

I have a bit of gossipy curiousity about what PDJT is thinking and feeling. But not a lot other than that he tends to be thinking about the United States and feeling positive about his actions.

Is he faking that? I doubt it. I don't think anyone could keep that up like that for 40+ years but I suppose it might be possible.

But it doesn't matter what he thinks or how he feels. The only thing that really matter is what he does and what he does is terrific.

John Henry

John henry said...

For the past 10-20 years AlGore has been a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins. His job is to invest in companies and make money when they succeed.

I wonder how successful he has been at picking winners?

K-P, like all others, figures that out of every 20 ventures they will lose their total investment on 15 companies (lotsa bankruptcies), more or less break even on 2-3 more and make all their profit on the remaining 2-3 companies.

K-P Bankruptcies are normally not Chapter 11. In K-P bankruptcies investors lose everything and creditors get cents on the dollar.

So how come we never hear of Algore's bankruptcies?

John Henry

Mr. Forward said...

The New York Times will beat the racism drum until the Democrats nominate the fake Indian.

rcocean said...

Trump stands (or pretends to stand) for America. His movement is populist.

The Democrats are open borders globalists. Its an elite movement. What can sing about? What about this with new improved 2019 lyrics:

The night they drove old America down, and the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Anerica down, and the people were singin' they went
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la

rcocean said...

BTW, the Brits are great communal singers. Go listen to the BBC proms on Youtube. Even in WW2 they'd do this. When the HMS Prince of Wales was sunk the survivors sang songs like "Roll out the Barrel" and "Rule Britannia" till they were rescued.

rcocean said...

Sanders is an authentic NYC Jewish Socialist. And Biden is an authentic idiot and member of the DC establishment.

Everyone one is a fraud and a phony. Harris lies about being black. Warren lies about being Indian. And Beto lies about being Mexican.

rcocean said...

I find the contempt for Trump amusing. Trump Single-handed with ZERO help from the establishment, and any political experience got himself elected POTUS. Not only that, he was the unwavering support of about 40% of the USA, and MAY win re-election.

He has done something no one has done before. And may not do again. Yet, all the little men, the conventional thinkers despise him. So what if he's POTUS. So what if he's a Billionaire. so what if he may get re-elected as POTUS, I"m superior because I believe the conventional wisdom AND don't like Big Macs!

rcocean said...

Who am I supposed to follow? Bob Wright or Donald trump? You make the call!

wildswan said...

I saw a Youtube video of the first post-election Trump rally in Ohio. Trump comes out and says something like "Well, the campaign's over. That was fun, wasn't it?" I was soaring in spirit because Trump won but I also felt as if I had been dragged through a knothole during the campaign because of fear that Hillary would in some cheating way win; and because the campaign was so extraordinary and so different; and everyone said it was bitter and horrible; and divisions appeared in the family; and so on and so on. Trump comes out, "Well, that was fun." I thought, "well, you know actually that was fun - exciting and dramatic and significant and surprising. Realizing in September that Trump would probably win although the polls were completely against him. It WAS fun." It's the other side that didn't have fun, even during the time when they thought they'd win; and they've been moaning away ever since then and projecting their misery on the rest of the country. Now they're clenching their teeth and being determined to have BIG, FUN RALLIES LIKE TRUMP. LAUGH, DAMN YOU, LAUGH. THEY LAUGH AT TRUMP RALLIES AND YOU WILL LAUGH, LAUGH, LAUGH AT WARREN RALLIES OR WE'LL CIRCULATE ON TWITTER A PICTURE OF YOU NOT LAUGHING AT A RALLY AND DESTROY YOU. SO LAUGH, BITCHES

reader said...

Thank you rehajm and althouse (for highlighting). I’m having both a good day and a bad day, and that was awesome to watch. It made me tear up.

Forbes said...

"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."--said someone famous...

And sometimes music is for enjoyment. And has no deeper meaning, except to the listener.

Bunkypotatohead said...

Why would president Trump be personally choosing the music that gets played?
He has people for that.