Nineteen of the Democratic candidates for president gathered for a dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Sunday to pitch themselves to party heavyweights in the Hawkeye State. Each politician had just five minutes to speak—enough for an elevator pitch and a zinger or two. (Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “I can see Iowa from my porch.”) Fortunately, Iowans were offered another important data point by which they might judge these presidential bids: the candidates’ walk-on music.
Who won the first contest of the 2020 Music Primary? Based on our criteria—points for relevance and quality, demerits for obviousness and/or lameness—the top prize goes to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose selection of Dolly Parton’s country-pop classic “9 to 5” works perfectly with her detail-steeped platform for leveling the economic playing field. Klobuchar takes second place for boosting a lesser-known artist from her home state. John Hickenlooper should try harder.
Here is the correct order of every candidate’s song selection. Pour yourself a cup of ambition and debate me.
1. Elizabeth Warren: Dolly Parton, “9 to 5”
2. Amy Klobuchar: Dessa, “The Bullpen”
3. Marianne Williamson: Stevie Wonder, “Higher Ground”*
4. Cory Booker: Bill Withers, “Lovely Day”
5. Bernie Sanders: John Lennon, “Power to the People”
6. Kirsten Gillibrand: Lizzo, “Good as Hell”
7. Andrew Yang: Mark Morrison, “Return of the Mack”
8. John Delaney: Johnny Cash, “I’ve Been Everywhere”
9. Kamala Harris: Mary J. Blige, “Work That”
10. Jay Inslee: Electric Light Orchestra, “Mr. Blue Sky”
11. Tim Ryan: Lil Nas X, “Old Town Road”
12. Tulsi Gabbard: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
13. Pete Buttigieg: Batchelor, “Never Giving Up”
14. Beto O’Rourke: The Clash, “Clampdown”
15. Bill “I love ska” de Blasio: The Clash, “Rudie Can’t Fail”
16. Eric Swalwell: Rodney Atkins, “Caught Up in the Country”
17. Michael Bennet: Bruce Springsteen, “The Rising”*
18. Steve Bullock: John Mellencamp, “Small Town”
19. John Hickenlooper: OneRepublic, “Good Life”
Correction, June 10, 2019: This post originally misspelled Stevie Wonder as Steve Wonder. It also misidentified Michael Bennet as Bill Bennet.