History and music are indisputably interconnected. Specific decades celebrate distinctive artists and genres. Through the bright and the dark days, music provides us with one thing: a universal language that unites us all. This past decade was categorized by wild ups and downs that propelled our sense of ‘normalcy’ into disarray. However, music temporarily erased the blemishes of our imperfect country by spreading awareness and bonding citizens towards a united cause.
As we reflect on an exciting shift in the presidential administration of the country, with President Joe Biden sworn into office on Jan. 20, the music representing this transformation of office and boost into a new decade is revitalizing and powerful. President Biden and Vice President Harris put together a playlist of 46 songs—ranging from Springsteen to Kendrick Lamar to Dua Lipa—that are emblematic of the new administration's distinguished objectives for diversity, resilience, and restoration.
The range of artists, genres, and tracks that this playlist boasts is wild. Jumping from new releases like SZA’s “Good Days” to Bill Withers’ 1977 hit “Lovely Day," the Presidential Inaugural Committee partnered with DJ D-Nice and Raedio to sequence a diverse range of music that champions one fundamental idea: coming together to reconcile and create a brighter future.
When I first scrolled through the playlist, I was daunted by the length and ostensibly disorganized feel of having such an assorted scope of music. Truth be told, I only recognized a few songs, but even ones that I knew felt a bit out of place. However, after comprehensively listening to and analyzing Biden’s specific song choices, I developed a strong appreciation for the brilliance of this playlist. Despite this year’s virtual inauguration ceremony, citizens of all backgrounds, ages, and musical preferences were united by the universal medium of music.
The playlist itself highlights contemporary songs like “Now or Never” by Kendrick Lamar ft. Mary J. Blige and “Blue World” by Mac Miller. Both songs are noteworthy choices, conveying a similar notion regarding Biden’s objectives for his time in office. Lamar states, “From the place I used to be, struggling usually / look at the newer me, fate pursuing me” which can be interpreted as a representation of Biden’s plans for shifting the current state of the United States into a position of greater capabilities.
Against a syncopated hip–hop beat, Miller spills a similar message, singing “This a mad world, it made me crazy / might just turn around, do one–eighty.” Together, these seemingly disparate tracks possess a parallel idea: Despite the current dire state of America, we are resilient and can mature exponentially under Biden’s leadership.
Another aspect of the playlist emphasizes the imprudent nature of the Trump administration, boasting songs like “Fool in the Rain” by Led Zeppelin and “What a Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers. These tracks are innuendos regarding the harmful policies and actions prioritized during these last four years, leaving Americans vulnerable like "fools" in the eye of a storm. The Doobie Brothers song about ill–fated lovers can also be interpreted as a statement about the damage of a careless authority: “But what a fool believes, he sees / no wise man has the power to reason away.” There is no point trying to rationalize with a leader unwilling to listen.
Nevertheless, this playlist has an extremely positive and upbeat aura that upholds the notion that these next four years will be stamped by optimism and rejuvenation. Songs like “Whatta Man” by Salt–N–Pepa, “Pick up the Pieces” by Average White Band, and “FIND YOUR WAY BACK” by Beyoncé are representative of one huge step forward in America. To restore the broken pieces of our country after COVID–19, the recent insurgent storming of the Capitol, and a presidency characterized by prejudice and futility, these powerful songs are emblematic of the newfound hope offered by the Biden administration.
The last track on the playlist, “Steps 8 & 9: Nature vs Nurture” by Sylvan LaCue was a significant choice to conclude this uplifting playlist. LaCue expounds on the differences between "nature and nurture," concluding that individuals are truly a product of environmental factors. With a strong leadership under Biden’s directive, Americans will “grow and change and hear other perspectives and new ideas and adapt.”
We are in the heart of a historic moment of the American story. While there are no guarantees towards the future state of this country, one thing is for certain: music is a permanent connection between global citizens. This playlist represents a stamp of renewal, proving that there are exciting and positive days ahead.