President Obama dropped his second annual summer playlist this week, sparking another round of speculation as to whether the leader of the free world just gets his staff to put these things together, or if he really is cool enough to know who Chance the Rapper and Courtney Barnett are.
Though some of the selections are a bit safe (his favorite rapper, Common, makes an appearance, of course, as do old warhorses Aretha Franklin, The Beach Boys and Miles Davis), overall it's an impressively eclectic mix with some terrific deep cuts, especially the genuinely sexy "nighttime" half. Rather than dive into the whole thing, we thought we'd brag on the numerous L.A. artists represented, who together reflect not just the diversity of POTUS' tastes but the many different sounds of our great city. Solid choices, Mr. President!
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, "Home"
Need more proof that Obama is our first hipster president? Look no further than his inclusion of this feel-good indie jam from Alex Ebert's merry band of Silver Lake beardos. Or maybe he's just a fan of boy-girl vocal exchanges.
Sara Bareilles, "Many the Miles"
Before you revoke Barry's hipster credentials, give this soulful piano rocker a chance. Thanks to her biggest hit, "Love Song," UCLA grad Bareilles tends to get lumped in with the milquetoast adult-contemporary crowd, but she's got way more depth than, say, Colbie Caillat, as this Carole King–like number makes clear. Props to POTUS for digging out this deep cut and then having the audacity to follow it up on his playlist with Janelle Monáe's "Tightrope" — a segue that works way better than you might expect.
Aloe Blacc, "The Man"
What do you think are the odds that our commander-in-chief sings this to himself in the mirror every morning?
The Beach Boys, "Good Vibrations"
An obvious choice? Sure. But also an undeniable one, especially sandwiched between one of Aretha Franklin's best dance jams ("Rock Steady") and Gary Clark Jr.'s scorching "Don't Owe You a Thang." The prez did tell us this is a summer playlist, after all.
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Charles Mingus, "II B.S."
No president ever mastered the art of the mic drop better than Obama, and his mic drop at the end of the daytime half of his summer playlist is a stone-cold, finger-poppin' jazz classic by arguably the greatest musician ever to wield an upright bass, Watts' own Charles Mingus. Well-played, POTUS, well-played.
War, "All Day Music"
Obama's nighttime playlist has less love for L.A. artists (unless you count Fiona Apple — but the track he chose, "Criminal," was recorded long before she relocated here) and, frankly, it would've been nice to hear a little Miguel or Frank Ocean or Anderson .Paak in the mix. But it's hard to argue with the L.A. area's lone after-dark representative: a breezy, often-overlooked classic from Long Beach's War, one of their first hits after parting ways with ex-Animals vocalist Eric Burdon. Paired with British neo-soul duo Floetry's super-sexy "Say Yes," it's a great, vibed-out way for Obama to bring his brief presidential playlist career to a close. Someone offer this man a post–White House DJ slot on Beats 1 Radio.