Ranking the 2020 Democratic Candidates Based Only on Their Walk-Out Songs

Want to cast your primary vote based strictly on musical taste? You've come to the right place!

by River Donaghey
Jun 10 2019, 8:44pm

Bernie photo by Scott Olsen/Staff. Lil Nas X photo by Frazer Harrison/Staff.

On Sunday, 19 Democrats showed up at an Iowa fundraiser, all of them vying for the 2020 nomination and frantically trying to stand out from the crowded pack. One by one, the candidates took their turns on stage, like a presidential speed dating event, most of them doing their best to appear the least Biden-y.

And sure, everyone from Bernie Sanders to Elizabeth Warren to Cory Booker made strong, impassioned cases for why they deserved to go up against Trump in the next election, but, man, making decisions is hard, and listening to a lot of people babble about "issues" and stuff is even harder. If only there was an easier way to decide which Democratic candidate to support!

Oh, wait—there is:

Thankfully, TIME reporter Lissandra Villa documented each of the 19 candidates's walk-out songs, from Springsteen to Lil Nas X to "Return of the Mack," so we here at VICE have painstakingly created a definitive ranking of all the candidates based strictly on their song choice. Are you struggling to know who to support in the vast sea of 2020 Democratic primary candidates? Are you one of those annoying snobs who immediately creates deep and unalterable judgments about others based solely on their music tastes? Fantastic! You've come to just the right place.

Let's get started!

AUTOMATIC LAST: Joe Biden - "We Take Care of Our Own" by Bruce Springsteen

This one doesn't quite count, since we're only going off the walk-out songs from Sunday's Iowa Democratic Hall of Fame event and Biden wasn't there—but he's used Springsteen's song "We Take Care of Our Own" at enough rallies that it should at least be mentioned. This is, of course, the same song Obama famously used during his re-election campaign, so, yeah. Thanks for the reminder, Joe. We got it. Moving on.

19. Tim Ryan - "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X

This smells like an awkward attempt to pander to the Youths and cash in on the de facto song of the summer—unless Ryan is actually making a reference to the song's true meaning:

Uh, probably just awkward pandering.

18. John Hickenlooper - "Good Life" by OneRepublic

Do you love OneRepublic and think socialism is the wrong direction for the Democratic Party? Vote for the guy who has a name like a character from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

17. Eric Swalwell - "Caught Up in the Country" by Rodney Atkins

16. Pete Buttigieg - "Never Giving Up" by Batchelor

"Never Giving Up" is, uh, apparently the recent single from rising LA rapper Batchelor. OK, Mayor Pete, you like music! You read Stereogum's hip-hop column every week or whatever! Please get back to learning how to play every song off The OC: Mix 1 on piano.

15. Steve Bullock - "Small Town" by John Mellencamp

14. Amy Klobuchar - "The Bullpen" by Dessa

13. John Delaney - "I've Been Everywhere" by Johnny Cash

Who? Oh, the guy who got booed for trashing Medicare for All. Fine song, bad take.

12. Michael Bennet - "The Rising" by Bruce Springsteen

11. Marianne Williamson - "Higher Ground" by Stevie Wonder

The list doesn't specify, but this definitely is the original Stevie Wonder version, not the Red Hot Chili Peppers cover, right? Let's hope.

10. Tulsi Gabbard - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

9. Elizabeth Warren - "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton

A classic Dolly Parton jam. Excellent pick.

8. Jay Inslee - "Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra

Inslee is basically guaranteed to not get the nomination, but the guy is against climate change and for ELO? Sounds good to us.

7. Beto O'Rourke - "Clampdown" by The Clash

We get it. You were punk once.

6. Bill de Blasio - "Rudie Can't Fail" by The Clash

De Blasio also inexplicably chose a walk-out song from London Calling and, while "Clampdown" is probably a better song than "Rudie Can't Fail," Bill gets the edge here for choosing a song that feels like a weird, convoluted dig at Rudy Giuliani somehow. What's it supposed to mean? Who knows! But you've earned yourself sixth place for making us ponder it.

5. Cory Booker - "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers

4. Kirsten Gillibrand - "Good as Hell" by Lizzo

Another desperate attempt to tap into the youth zeitgeist, Tim Ryan-style? Who cares. Lizzo!

3. Kamala Harris - "Work That" by Mary J. Blige

2. Bernie Sanders - "Power to the People" by John Lennon

On the nose? Sure. But Bernie's been using this song for a while now and he's made it work. Plus, Bernie is definitely John. Warren is Paul. Beto is George. Buttigieg is Ringo. Biden is... Phil Spector after he ruined Let It Be with his godawful production?

1. Andrew Yang - "Return of the Mack" by Mark Morrison

Here it is, everybody. The best of all possible walk-out songs. "Return of the Mack" still slaps, two decades later. It is timeless. It is perfect. It may someday be remembered as the pinnacle of Western civilization. But wait—that's not all Yang has going for him. Apparently, the guy also plays a version of Wu Tang's "Ain't Nuthing ta Fuck Wit" except with a verse about how everybody in America should get a grand a month or whatever:

If you want beef (or other grocery staples), then bring the ruckus / Universal Basic Income ain't nothing to fuck with? You win this round, Yang. Good luck with the actual election.

Bernie Sanders
democratic primary
Elizabeth Warren
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2020 Democrats
walk out songs