Abolish the Electoral College, Deb, Donald Trump is Gonna Steal the Election, Double Feature, Electoral College, Jonathan Mann, Roosterhead, Schoolhouse Rock!, They Might Be Giants, Who Are the Electors?
Forget Schoohouse Rock! Today’s tunes are gonna school you on America’s Electoral College. What it is, who does what, and why it should be abolished. That’s right dear reader, we here at Poprock Record take a side – for democracy. As the bands below point out, the US Electoral College is an anachronistic relic of the nation’s pre-democratic founding. But hey, if politics is not your thing don’t worry, we’ve still got hooks galore. Or you could always do what most people do with popular music: ignore the words.
To get you up to speed on the relevant deets about our topic let’s check in with America’s smartest, bifocaled poprock outfit, Brooklyn’s They Might Be Giants. Their brand new single is a timely exposition on all things Electoral College entitled “Who Are the Electors?” Seriously, the song is a practically a wiki entry on who ‘electors’ are, how they are chosen, and the rationale for choosing a president this way. Of course, they do slip in a mild critique here and there with lines like ‘it’s up to them, not up to us’ and ‘we’re only the voters, they are the electors.’ Overall the track is both effectively educational and eminently hummable. Only these guys could put so much factual content into a song while sacrificing nothing on the melodic front.
From there, things get a lot more blatantly critical. ‘Song a Day’ phenomenon Jonathan Mann has been creating new tunes daily since 2009 so it was statistically predictable that one would eventually touch on American political institutions. Shortly after Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 he released “Abolish the Electoral College,” his ode to all that is wrong with it and what might be done to put it right. That’s correct, he’s not just complaining. Mann manages to sing about something called the ‘national popular vote interstate compact’ in some detail. Frankly, the guy should get some kind of award for making that proposal sound both musically and intellectually attractive. Meanwhile Bethlehem Columbus band Deb offer up clear criticisms of how the Electoral College violates basic democratic values like voter equality by privileging land and locale. Musically the track comes off like a shoegaze Bruce Springsteen with its soothing earnest drone and relatable content.
Perhaps not surprisingly, punkers give the Electoral College the best drubbing, coming out with both guns blazing. Chicago band Double Feature offer up a bevy of politically critical tunes on their 2019 release, American Dream Not Found. So many great titles here like “Alt-Wrong,” “You Can’t Silence the Scientists,” and “I’m Still Waiting for the Trickle Down.” But right now our attention lands on “I Dropped Out of the Electoral College,” a delightfully raucous blast of righteous punky indignation, with some great melodic diversions. Alternatively Roosterhead is a punk band from Los Angeles with a more experimental bent, but the politics is still front and centre on their 2018 release Virtual Democracy. With songs like “Dark Money,” “Kleptocracy Now,” “If Millennials Actually Voted,” and “A Swing State” there’s little doubt where they stand. However our featured song is entitled, predictably, “Electoral College,” a challenging melodic noise piece that nicely rhymes ‘college’ with ‘abolish.’
Rounding things out on this political institutions tunes session are a few somewhat unrelated songs. First up is a band called Electoral College. The only track of theirs I can find is called “Bladerunner” and it has nothing to say about politics. In fact, I can’t say much about them at all as they are pretty much invisible on ye old interweb. But the song’s got a cool, loose indie vibe, with just a touch of punk. Now, to wrap things up, let’s return to the endlessly topical Jonathan Mann. On his September 2020 release “Donald Trump is Gonna Steal the Election” he pretty much predicts most of what the Trump team would get up to shortly thereafter i.e. purging voter rolls, acts of voter suppression, endlessly and baselessly contesting the results, etc. Don’t let the song’s infectious upbeat tone fool you, it’s all a load of very bad news.
Well, now you know. The Electoral College is so bad that people even write songs about it. Will these tunes spark the institutional revolution America so desperately needs? Highly unlikely. But they do make suffering with it just a little bit better.