Love him or hate him, you have to hand it to President Barack Obama: he’s got the most with-it musical taste a sitting president has ever had. Bill Clinton liked Fleetwood Mac; George W. Bush liked George Jones, John Fogerty, and Alan Jackson. Obama likes 23-year-old Chicago hip-hop artist Chance The Rapper, indie rock darling Courtney Barnett, and—most relevant to Texans’ interests—rising Lone Stars such as Gary Clark Jr. and Leon Bridges.
We learned this when Obama released his official summer playlists on Thursday (a “daytime” version featuring mostly upbeat good-times jams, and a “nighttime” version showcasing, er, songs that appear to come from a candlelit dinner mix tape). The 39 tracks he named tell us so much about his musical tastes, and since he’s so into hotshot Texas acts like Clark and Bridges, we thought we’d go ahead and offer Obama his own Texas-specific playlist, based on the sort of music he seems to be into.
“Cocaine Hurricane,” Wild Child
Obama likes Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros—a band known for catchy sing-alongs with a folky tone—so we’re going to recommend him Austin’s Wild Child, which brings that same sort of vibe. It might be a bit risqué for a president to endorse a song called “Cocaine Hurricane,” but we’re pretty sure Obama would be doing the “da-dat-da-da-da-da-dat-da” sing-alongs by the end.
“Sara Smile,” Ashleigh Smith
The president’s playlist expresses an enthusiasm for breezy, jazz-influenced R&B from artists like Corinne Bailey Rae and Esperanza Spalding. That means that UNT alum Ashleigh Smith, who’s preparing the release of her new album later this month, would probably fit right into his earbuds.
“Reckoner,” Robert Glasper
Obama loves traditional jazz—Miles Davis and Charles Mingus both make appearances on his eclectic mix tapes—so Houston pianist Robert Glasper, who would have been worthy to play with either of those legends, is probably already on his radar. We’re going to recommend that he check out Glasper’s 2015 cover of Radiohead’s “Reckoner,” rather than something from his Miles Davis-themed most recent release, just because it’s more traditional than the experimental 2016 album.
“Berlin Got Blurry,” Parquet Courts
One of the bigger surprises on Obama’s playlist is the inclusion of Australian literary guitar rocker Courtney Barnett. Barnett’s a fantastic musician and an even better songwriter, but she’s the sort of artist that a person tends to have to seek out with active ears—and given Obama’s schedule, it’s surprising that she made it onto his radar. While Denton-born Parquet Courts have a slightly different sonic vibe going than Barnett, if he appreciates erudite lyrics and smart indie rock, he’ll probably be into “Berlin Got Blurry” too.
“Prince Johnny,” St. Vincent
The president has been bumping Fiona Apple’s 1996 hit “Criminal” at night, apparently, which suggests that he likes slinky rhythms and strident voices from female singer-songwriters. With that in mind, Dallas’ St. Vincent would probably find herself in heavy rotation on the presidential playlist if he got around to checking out “Prince Johnny.”
“Let Me Ride,” Magna Carda
There’s a lot of hip-hop on Obama’s playlists, but he tends to prefer songs with a positive message, or at least songs from artists who tend to favor a more organic aesthetic than, say, the latest Rich The Kid or Travi$ $cott banger. He likes Common, Chance the Rapper, and Floetry, so when recommending some Texas rap for Obama, we’ll steer him in the direction of someone like Austin’s Magna Carda.
“Gwan,” The Suffers
Obama has both Aretha Franklin and Tower Of Power on his list, which suggests that he’s into powerful voices and funky horn sections. With that in mind, he’s got all the makings of a superfan of Houston’s the Suffers, who punctuate Kam Franklin’s booming vocals with the horns of the nine-piece backing band to create something irresistible.
“Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love),” White Denim
Obama’s affection for seventies soul is no secret, even if on his current playlist it’s mostly relegated to current artists like Aloe Blacc paying tribute to the form. But that just makes him even more likely to be into White Denim’s “Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love),” a nod to the genre that’s imminently listenable—and with the band’s ties to Obama fave Leon Bridges, it seems like he’d probably find a lot to like here.