I'm a firm believer in that you can tell a lot about a person from the kind of music they listen to most frequently. Music is all about communication, and what you listen to can signal to others what kind of connection you might be able to make with them. Apparently, psychologists have linked musical tastes to personality traits, but I also think that a person's musical tastes can reflect their politics or policy preferences.
When people talk about politics and music, it's usually about the political views the musician is expressing, but what about the listeners? When someone bangs with "Fuck tha Police," (by N.W.A or whatever cover version, including the one with Insane Clown Posse), doesn't that reflect a general position that the individual feels strongly about? Music as political reflection is why I can't enjoy vapourwave and future funk anymore, because these musical genres have been hijacked by fascists.
Which brings me to the Conservative Party of Canada's ongoing leadership race. Fourteen candidates, and 14 playlists that may serve as a reflection of their personality and worldview. Which is great because, although I pay quite a lot of attention to Canadian politics, I can name only like four or five of these candidates off the top of my head. To me, their individual policy proposals, ranging from racism to tax cuts, have all kind of fused and churned with each other into this amorphous political blob of an agenda. Music might make it easier to identify each candidate's vision for Canada and the Conservative Party.
To better know who these CPC leadership candidates are and where they want to take the country, I asked each one to send me a playlist of their favourite music. Maybe their most played on Spotify will reveal some trenchant insight into their desires for Canadian public administration? Only half of all the candidates got back to me on the request, but even that handful of tuneage provided lots to dig into.
Coeur de Pirate - "Place de la République"
Metric - "Gimme Sympathy"
Feist - "I Feel It All"
Richard Desjardins - "…Et j'ai couché dans mon char"
Hamilton: An American Musical - "You'll Be Back"
John K. Samson - "When I Write My Master's Thesis"
The Weakerthans - "Sun in an Empty Room"
Rheostatics - "Saskatchewan"
Arcade Fire - "Ready to Start"
Drake - "Hotline Bling"
Gordon Lightfoot - "Carefree Highway"
Tragically Hip - "Bobcaygeon"
Chris Alexander's offers quite the CanCon playlist, save for the one Lin-Manuel track that's arguably one of the least hip-hop in all of Hamilton. It's basically mp3 rips from compilation albums for the Juno Awards, demonstrating Alexander's true patriot love for Canadian artists. Too bad none of his campaign promises reflect Richard Desjardins' environmental activism or Gord Downie's thoughts on First Nations reconciliation for residential schools. As an Arcade Fire fan, you'd think he would also be a fan of expanding foreign aid to places like Haiti, right? But we actually don't seem to get any of that in his campaign promises.
AC/DC - "It's a Long Way to the Top"
Georges D'Or - "La Manic"
Bernard Adamus - "Brun, la couleur de l'amour"
Jacques Brel - "Voir un ami pleurer"
U2 - "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
I'll admit it, I don't really know Francophone music all that much aside from Céline Dion, however, the music from Georges D'Or and Jacques Brel are reminiscent of the good ol' Quiet Revolution days of economic reform and less immigration. The addition of AC/DC and U2 is mostly symptomatic of being from a late-boomer age, when times were simpler and "foreigners" didn't cover their faces.
Oscar Peterson - "Place St. Henr"
John Mellencamp - "Small Town"
Stan Rogers - "Northwest Passage"
Gordon Lightfoot - "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"
The Tragically Hip – "Bobcaygeon"
Bob Dylan - "Blowing In The Wind"
Sia - "The Greatest"
New Order - "Bizarre Love Triangle"
Coldplay - "Adventure Of A Lifetime"
Rihanna - "We Found Love"
Michael Chong presents a good mix of dad vibes and pop. A modest mix for the moderate Conservative.
Earth, Wind & Fire - "September"
Justin Timberlake - "Can't Stop the Feeling!"
Pentatonix - "Rather Be"
Meghan Trainor - "Lips Are Movin'"
Taylor Swift - "Shake it Off"
Taron Egerton - "I'm Still Standing"
Tori Kelly- "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing"
Owl City/Carly Rae Jepsen - "Good Time"
Miranda Lambert - "The House that Built Me"
Van Morrison - "I'm Not Feeling It Anymore"
Blake Shelton/Gwen Stefani - "Go Ahead and Break My Heart"
There is a lot of radio pop from the past couple of years on this list, which you might mistaken for a teenager's iTunes if only Earth, Wind & Fire or Van Morrison didn't betray that image. That is until you get to Taron Egerton—who the hell is that guy? I could've sworn "I'm Still Standing" is an Elton John song. But then I Googled this guy and turns out he was in that movie Sing—that animated one from last year made by the Minions people where animals do like an American Idol thing. Actually, a good chunk of this playlist is from the Sing soundtrack. Hmmmm.
Republica - "Ready to Go"
Arcade Fire - "The Suburbs"
New Order - "Plastic"
Empire of the Sun - "Walking on a Dream"
Tame Impala - "Let It Happen"
The Smiths - "How Soon is Now?"
The The - "Slow Emotion Replay"
Love and Rockets - "Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man)"
Cut Copy - "Future"
Sloan - "People of the Sky"
Erin O'Toole's playlist reads kind of like an Osheaga lineup. It's pretty friggin Indie for a 44-year-old dad. You can really tell he's chasing that youth vote, coupled with tax cuts for Millennials.
Dixie Chicks - "I'm Not Ready to Play Nice"
The Black Eyed Peas
Johann Sebastien Bach
This list kind of goes all over the place. It's very… "eclectic." It's kind of hard to read but maybe that's the point? I can at least guess he's on the side of the Dixie Chicks and Eminem in criticising George W. Bush for the Iraq War, despite Stephen Harper's support for the war, and condemnation from American conservatives. But other than that, I don't really think you can get much out of this list of favourite recording artists.
Neil Diamond - "Sweet Caroline"
Men Without Hats - "Pop Goes the World"
Blue Rodeo - "Lost Together"
Monsters and Men - "Little Talks"
Walk the Moon - "Shut up and Dance"
Allegedly, with his kids in the minivan, "We're going to Mars" by the Backyardigans also complements this list. It is the ultimate dad playlist. As a reflection of his policy vision for Canada, however, um, yeah…
Okay, maybe gathering the musical tastes of the CPC Leadership candidates wasn't the best way to learn more about them.
Lead image by Jake Kivanc.
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