Hillary Clinton's 2016 Spotify Playlist - A Song By Song Analysis

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American Authors - "Believer" (2013)

American Authors Believer
American Authors - "Believer". Courtesy Mercury

Hillary Clinton has released her first official Spotify playlist for her 2016 presidential campaign. Read on for a song by song commentary. Listen to the full Spotify playlist here.

The list kicks off with the first single from New York City based band American Authors. It is one of two songs by the band in the playlist. They are the only recording artist listed twice. The group wrote the song after 2012 being a tough year and the year that Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast. It is an upbeat anthem about things getting better. Following the mainstream success of "Best Day Of My Life," it climbed to #12 on the adult pop chart. This is a great song for a forward-looking political campaign.

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Gym Class Heroes - "The Fighter" featuring Ryan Tedder (2012)

Gym Class Heroes Fighter
Gym Class Heroes - "Fighter" featuring Ryan Tedder. Courtesy Fueled By Ramen

Gym Class Heroes' song "The Fighter" is a motivational song giving advice to live life like a fighter, someone who won't give up. It was produced by and features vocals on the chorus by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, one of today's most prominent hitmakers. Gym Class Heroes leader Travie McCoy told Billboard, "It was kind of a proverbial kick in my own butt to remind myself that I've worked really, really hard, that we all as a band have worked really hard to get where we're at and a reminder not to slack." 

The accompanying music video directed by Mark Klasfeld features US gymnast John Orozco as he is training for the Olympics. He finished eighth in the individual all-around at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. The message rings loud and clear that Hillary Clinton considers herself a fighter.

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Katy Perry - "Roar" (2013)

Katy Perry - "Roar"
Katy Perry - "Roar". Courtesy Capitol

Katy Perry's anthemic "Roar" was instantly adopted as a song of personal empowerment by millions of fans. It reached #1 on the US pop singles chart in just four weeks. The song came in the wake of Katy Perry's widely publicized divorce from Russell Brand. She told the BBC, "It's a bit of a self-empowering type of song. I wrote it because I was sick of keeping all these feelings inside and not speaking up for myself, which caused a lot of resentment." 

"Roar" incorporates the line "eye of the tiger" which connects back with the 1982 movie Rocky III and its use as Rocky Balboa's fighting mantra. It was also the title of rock group Survivor's big #1 pop hit single from the movie. For Hillary Clinton, the song instantly connects her with personal strength generally and female empowerment in particular.

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Ariana Grande - "Break Free" featuring Zedd (2014)

Ariana Grande Break Free
Ariana Grande - "Break Free" featuring Zedd. Courtesy Republic

Ariana Grande's first experiment with EDM in collaboration with DJ and producer Zedd was a top 10 pop smash. "Break Free" celebrates moving on from a past negative relationship to a position of personal independence. It was a breezy hit in 2014.

The song itself does not seem the best fit with a political campaign, but featuring music from Ariana Grande is a good way to connect with a younger audience. She has built a strong, appreciative core audience with a string of major hit singles. The accompanying music video features Ariana Grande as a science fiction hero.

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Kelly Clarkson - "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" (2012)

Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)
Kelly Clarkson - "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)". Courtesy RCA

Kelly Clarkson's #1 pop hit "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" is a huge anthem to the power of adversity to build an even stronger, more resilient self. The song's title and concept are borrowed from the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." The stellar production received Grammy Award nominations for Record and Song of the Year. Kelly Clarkson told the Associated Press, "I've heard everything from 'I got out of an abusive relationship' to 'I'm surviving cancer'... and I think everyone in the world needs that type of song - something that makes you feel empowered."

"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" was an obvious choice as a centerpiece to this playlist. It is likely to be an enduring pop classic, and it gives an uplifting feeling to any large gathered crowd.

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American Authors - "Best Day Of My Life" (2013)

American Authors - Best Day Of My Life
American Authors - "Best Day Of My Life". Courtesy Mercury

This is the song that put the band American Authors on the map. It is a celebratory song that speaks of making any day the best of your life. The group's Zac Barnett told American Songwriter magazine, "We wanted to tell this story of how no matter what's going on- whether you're stuck at your job or having a bad day- there's always an escape from that, and there's always a way to make any day the best day of your life." The song became a top 10 hit across adult pop, adult contemporary, and mainstream pop radio. It also reached the top 20 at rock and alternative radio. 

"Best Day Of My Life" has the impact of making almost anyone smile if they are having a bad day. It is an excellent choice to cheer up a big crowd in a political campaign. The song looks forward to a brighter future.

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Pharrell Williams - "Happy" (2013)

Pharrell Williams - Happy
Pharrell Williams - "Happy". Courtesy Back Lot

With "Happy" Pharrell Williams unleashed one of the top upbeat hit songs of all time. It reached #1 in almost every major pop market around the world. The song won a Best Pop Solo Performance Grammy for Pharrell Williams. It also was nominated for an Academy Award and was named Billboard's #1 single of the year for 2014. "Happy" is an instant pop classic. 

The use of "Happy" in Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is a no-brainer. It is difficult to find anyone that does not like the song, and it is expected to hear "Happy" at a major upbeat public event. 

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Jennifer Lopez - "Let's Get Loud" (2000)

Jennifer Lopez - Let's Get Loud
Jennifer Lopez - "Let's Get Loud". Courtesy Columbia

"Let's Get Loud" is easily the oldest song on this list. It was recorded by Jennifer Lopez for her debut studio album On the 6. Co-written by Gloria Estefan and co-produced by her husband Emilio Estefan, Jr., the song tied Jennifer Lopez directly to her Latin roots. It was never released as an official single in the US. However, it did reach the club songs chart and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Dance Recording.

For her campaign playlist, Hillary Clinton is careful to make sure she does not ignore her Hispanic supporters. "Let's Get Loud" is a great party atmosphere song, and lyrically it supports being yourself and not letting anyone tell you how you should live your life. That type of theme is a powerful one for a political campaign.

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NONONO - "Pumpin Blood" (2013)

NONONO Pumpin Blood
NONONO - "Pumpin' Blood". Courtesy Warner Music

At first glance, the debut hit single from Sweden's NONONO might not seem an obvious choice for Hillary Clinton's campaign playlist. However, the upbeat anthem to self-determination is a powerfully uplifting song. It brought the group to the top 40 at alternative, rock, mainstream and adult pop radio. It was also performed on the hit TV show Glee

For lack of a better term, "Pumpin' Blood" will pump up a crowd. It has a summery feel making it a good choice for an upbeat political campaign. The use of the song will also help bring attention back to the promising trio NONONO who are still looking for a follow up hit.

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John Legend and The Roots - "Wake Up Everybody" (2010)

John Legend Wake Up Everybody
John Legend and The Roots - "Wake Up Everybody" featuring Common and Melanie Fiona. Courtesy Columbia

The song "Wake Up Everybody" is a gem written by the classic R&B songwriting duo Gene McFadden and John Whitehead along with Victor Carstarphen. The originally recording by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes was released in 1975 and climbed to #12 on the pop chart while hitting #1 on the R&B chart. This cover by John Legend and the Roots for their album Wake Up is a beautifully elegant recording. It features stellar guest vocals from Melanie Fiona and raps from Common. The recording earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap / Sung Collaboration.

The lyrics of "Wake Up Everybody" are as relevant today as they were in 1975. They encourage everyone to wake up to the problems of our world and build a new, better day. It adds an elegant touch to this campaign playlist with a timeless message.

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Sara Bareilles - "Brave" (2013)

Sara Bareilles Brave
Sara Bareilles - "Brave". Courtesy Epic

Sara Bareilles' "Brave" has become a career defining song for the artist. It is one of the best songs in recent memory for encouraging personal expression and standing brave in the face of self-doubt. Lyrically, the song moves beyond the usual pop hit in depth and raises the question of what the world would be like if we were all just a little more brave. Sara Bareilles has stated about the song, "There's so much honor and integrity and beauty in being able to be who you are." "Brave" became a top 3 hit single on the adult pop and adult contemporary charts. It earned Sara Bareilles a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance.

Co-writer of "Brave" Jack Antonoff, of fun and Bleachers, says that "Brave" is a civil rights anthem. It makes perfect sense as a centerpiece for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. It is a timeless classic for Sara Bareilles.

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Kris Allen - "Fighters" (2012)

Kris Allen Thank You Camellia
Kris Allen - Thank You Camellia. Courtesy RCA

This is probably the least known song on the playlist. It was not released as a single, and it is included on Thank You Camellia, an album by former American Idol winner Kris Allen that climbed no higher than #26 on the album chart. However, the lyrical sentiment that, "We were born to be fighters, we are strong, we're survivors," is a resonant concept. 

"Fighters" is a song that likely deserves more attention, and has been overlooked. Also, in the concept of the political campaign, Kris Allen does have a strong following in the Christian music community. 

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Jon Bon Jovi - "Beautiful Day" (2015)

Soundtrack Finding Neverland
Soundtrack - Finding Neverland. Courtesy Republic

"Beautiful Day" is the newest song on the playlist. It was recorded by Jon Bon Jovi for the Finding Neverland album project supporting the Broadway show. The song was written by Gary Barlow of legendary British boy band Take That. The album was released only last week June 9, 2015.

"Beautiful Day" is upbeat and encourages everyone to celebrate the current day. Lyrically, it comes off as a bit shallow, but Jon Bon Jovi is a pop music icon. The song will fit comfortably in efforts to generate enthusiasm in a crowd.

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Marc Anthony - "Vivir Mi Vida" (2013)

Marc Anthony Vivir Mi Vida
Marc Anthony - "Vivir Mi Vida". Courtesy Sony Latin

"Vivir Mi Vida" is the only Spanish language song on this playlist. The title translates as "Live My Life." It is a salsa cover of a song originally recorded by Algerian singer Khaled under the title "C'est La Vie." The original song includes both French and Arabic lyrics. It was a top 5 pop hit in France in 2012. Marc Anthony's recording became a massive Latin pop hit in the US winning the 2013 Latin Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

It is a wise decision in today's political climate to include a Spanish language song in the playlist. "Vivir Mi Vida" is a strong choice encouraging everyone to celebrate life.