Sound Trax

Carol Vernallis

Trax on the Trail has helped keep me connected to political events for over a year. As many of us academics seek ways to respond to the new normal, some of us may want to do what I did—sign up to participate in blogs like Trax o the Trail. Most of us agree that now more than ever we need to...

Megan Murph

Like dozens of cities around the nation and globe, Lexington, Kentucky witnessed a women’s march with thousands in attendance the day after Trump’s inauguration (January 21, 2017). Lexington police and the Kentucky National Organization for Women said it was the largest march seen in city...

Dana Gorzelany-Mostak

You can access this essay at Musicology Now. Interested in learning more about inauguration music? Please check out Musicology Now's other inauguration-related essays. And join Musicology Now for their live blog event which will start on January 19th and continue into inauguration day....

Michael Saffle

In a previous contribution to Trax on the Trail, I noted that Donald Trump had received “more nightly [i.e. televisual] news attention than all of the Democratic campaigns combined,” and “unquestionably more attention online than any other Republican candidate.”[1] As the official Republican...

Reba Wissner

  Ryan Bañagale’s essay on the first seven songs of the 30 Days, 30 Songs website discussed the project’s beginnings.[1] Since then, more songs have been released. On October 24, organizers Dave Eggers and Jordan Kurland pointed out that they were expanding it to 30 days and 40...

Naomi Graber

On November 18, Republican Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended a performance of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s multicultural hip-hop retelling of the life of the titular founding father. Miranda had used songs from the musical to campaign for Democrat Hillary Clinton, and was publically...

James Deaville

Historical precedents inform us that national party conventions are supposed to ratify a platform and select a nominee, affirm party identity, and celebrate collective unity.[i] This occurs through a four-day spectacle of sight and sound that builds to the climax, the nominee’s acceptance speech...

Naomi Graber, Eric Hung, and Aaron Manela

Much to the delight of Trax on the Trail and its contributors, the second presidential debate inspired at least a dozen musical settings. We have seen Hillary and Donald singing duets, busting out dance moves, assuming Muppet personas, and appearing as the leads in a horror film. Indeed this...

Ryan Raul Bañagale

I won’t lie. I’m a fan of just about anything Ben Gibbard does—be that as frontman for Death Cab for Cutie, as fifty-percent of The Postal Service, or as trail running fanatic. When word of a new Death Cab for Cutie song came across my newsfeed last week, I immediately clicked through to take a...

Reba Wissner

It is not unusual for pop musicians to use their fame and their music as a platform for critique of presidents. Former presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan were on the receiving end of songs and music videos that highlighted their alleged incompetence. Tom Paxton’s 1965...

Stuart Schimler

Today on the Inside Trax, I chat with Stuart Schimler, founder of American Pioneer Music. The former UC Berkeley history major makes his living as a software exec by day, but he also has a secret (or not so secret) passion—he loves campaign songs! Schimler’s company has produced two campaign...

Glenn W. Richardson Jr.

In the context of political campaigns, music is almost always linked to a visual context, be it a campaign rally or political spot.[i] The interaction of audio and visual elements is central to understanding such political communication. This was driven home to me during the second session of...

Kraig Moss

Over the course of the 2016 election cycle, the press has eagerly reported on the many pop songs candidates take to the trail. Journalists sometimes criticize the candidates’ seemingly tone-deaf choices: “Tiny Dancer” for Trump....really? In other instances, the pundits of pop culture debate the...

Michael Kennedy

In US electoral politics since the 1980s, many candidates have (re-)branded themselves as “hip” and “cool” by utilizing hit songs from mainstream popular music. As a significant example of this trend during the 1992 US presidential election, Bill Clinton mobilized MTV culture by using classic...

Justin Patch

There is perhaps no phrase that defines the 2016 election cycle better than a return of populism. In the US, populism (broadly defined as appeal to "the people" against established powers, social structures, and hegemonic ideologies and values) bubbled to the surface in the wake of the so-called...

Naomi Graber

The stage is set for a political event. American flags are strewn about a platform set with two podiums, and an audience sits, rapt with anticipation, waving signs supporting the candidate. A gentleman in a clean-cut suit steps up to one podium, but instead of delivering a stump speech, he...

Rebecca Shaw

In fall of 2015, Trax on the Trail joined forces with Prof. Emily Abrams Ansari’s Music and Politics class at Western University in Ontario. Each student penned an essay or created a podcast that explored a specific intersection between music and presidential politics. In January, Nikki...

Travis Ridout

Most of us see dozens, if not hundreds, of political ads on television (and increasingly online) each election year. The majority of these ads seem to blend together in our minds; few stand out.  Yet the creators of these ads sometimes spend days, if not weeks, making decisions about even...

David R. Dewberry and Jonathan Millen

The playlist has become an unofficial political campaign requirement akin to kissing babies. As such, one may be inclined to dismiss it as purely political pandering. Nevertheless,we argue that its use is a legitimate contemporary campaign strategy that deserves attention.[1] While the...

Gary Jackson

In fall of 2015, Trax on the Trail joined forces with Prof. Emily Abrams Ansari’s Music and Politics class at Western University in Ontario. Each student penned an essay or created a podcast that explored a specific intersection between music and presidential politics. In January we brought...

Christianna Barnard

From Renaissance parody masses to Weird Al Yankovic, milk commercials to playground taunts, musical parodies are a ubiquitous, cheeky thread of a society’s musical fabric. The pervasiveness of parody belies the cleverness of the act of parodying a recognizable song; by introducing the creative...

Naomi Graber

On 13 January 2016, approximately 12,000 people gathered in the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Florida for a two hour rally in support of Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. At an event that included the Gun Girls for Trump leading the pledge of allegiance, speeches from local...

John Balduzzi

  In addition to bringing you the viewpoints of students and scholars, Trax on the Trail is committed to going behind the scenes to bring you insiders’ perspectives on the creative processes that bring the campaign soundscape to life. Political candidates use music throughout their...

Caroline Gleason-Mercier

Last fall Trax on the Trail joined forces with Prof. Emily Abrams Ansari’s Music and Politics class at Western University in Ontario. Each student penned an essay or created a podcast that explored a specific intersection between music and presidential politics. Last month we posted an engaging...

Michael Saffle

On 16 June 2015, Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States. Since then, Trump has received “more nightly [i.e., televisual] news attention than all the Democratic campaigns combined,” and unquestionably more online attention than any other Republican candidate...

Paul Christiansen

As I was writing this in late January 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was soaring in the polls in early primary states Iowa and New Hampshire. As this piece goes “to press,” it cannot escape mention that Sanders has now achieved at the Iowa caucuses what for his campaign...