President-elect Joe Biden has been teasing his cabinet picks lately like he's a mid-tier indie rock band beginning a press campaign for a new album. This week, he hinted at a news conference last week that "all elements of the Democratic Party" would like his choice for Treasury Secretary. Now, he's set to unveil all of his official cabinet selections on Tuesday with the New York Times already reporting that Biden is picking Antony Blinken for Secretary of State. Now, I know you're probably thinking: "Wait, is this the Anthony Blinken who's behind the dad-rock project ABlinken on Spotify? The singer behind the sub-1000 streamed songs "Lip Service" and "Patience"?" And the answer is yes, that's him.
Jokes aside, Blinken has been a longtime presence at the State Department, beginning his career there under the Clinton Administration and serving as Deputy Secretary of State under Barack Obama. (You can see him in the background in that infamous photo of government officials watching the Osama Bin Laden raid in the Situation Room). Since Trump came into office, Blinken has been making a lot of money in the private sector but most importantly, he plays in a band. Called Ablinken (get it? It's phonetically Abe Lincoln but also Antony Blinken's name!), Blinken sings and counts former Obama press secretary and current Amazon employee Jay Carney, The West Wing screenwriter Eli Attie, journalists Dave McKenna, and David Segal as bandmates.
On Twitter, Tony Blinken linked to his songs, writing in 2018, "For those who like wonk rock check out and follow ABlinken on Spotify. Some original songs from many years back but just recorded." This raised several questions: first, what's "wonk rock"? Is it rock music about Modern Monetary Theory or ballads on global geopolitics? Is it a ska band called Better Than Ezra Klein? Or is it just rock music made by Washington D.C. nerds? It turns out, it's the latter. But as far as this definition of "wonk rock" goes, it's less derivative than Joe Scarborough's music and much better dressed than Mike Huckabee's band. It's actually not awful!
Former National Security Advisor to Obama Ben Rhodes tweeted about Blinken, "If your family was ever really in trouble, Tony Blinken is the guy you’d call because of his judgment, smarts and decency. That’s where our country is now and I’m glad we can call on Tony." As VICE can confirm from listening to these songs, we can also call on Tony if we're looking to rock. Below, check out our initial thoughts on ABlinken's tunes.
There's something quite funny about a former and now-future State Department official, or really anyone in politics, writing a song called "Lip Service." But this one opens up with a bouncy acoustic guitar riff and Blinken's booming, slightly-auto-tuned baritone. In fact, his voice is so low it almost sounds like it's been chopped and screwed. The song is actually quite catchy and after a couple of listens the chorus will be stuck in your head and you'll air guitar to the solo with as much fervor as any 58-year-old trying to unwind after a long week at the State Department.
This song feels like Blinken's attempt to write his own version of Big Star's "Thirteen" but for middle-aged men offering advice on the meaning of life. Speaking of Big Star's Alex Chilton, ABlinken's Spotify bio says that the band has had "contributions from Alex Chilton and [Hüsker Dü drummer] Grant Hart," which is bonkers if true. Either way, this song is much more stripped down than "Lip Service," and features Blinken expanding his vocal range significantly. He's actually a nice singer and might be the most musically talented Secretary of State ever unless Edmund Muskie or Madeleine Albright had secret rock bands we didn't know about.