In this thesis, I will discuss the importance of campaign songs and how they were used throughout three distinctly different U.S. presidential elections: the 1960 campaign of Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy against Vice President Richard Milhouse Nixon, the 1984 reelection campaign of President Ronald Wilson Reagan against Vice President Walter Frederick Mondale, and the 2008 campaign of Senator Barack Hussein Obama against Senator John Sidney McCain. In doing so, there will be an analysis of how music was used to sell the image of these presidential candidates through both its juxtaposition with other forms of mass media (television advertisements, radio, internet streaming platforms) and the content found in a song's lyrics. There will be an apparent shift in focus from candidates using original campaign songs written for the purpose of elections, toward a more prominent reliance on popular music of current and past eras. From original and politically direct works such as "I Like Ike" and "Click with Dick," to the campaign use of popular hits like Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." and Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop," I will demonstrate how presidential candidates and their teams found it beneficial to use notable music works in order to connect with a younger generation of voters. In conclusion, the reader will have gained enough understanding to realize how campaign music continues to play a role in the current political climate, demonstrating how far candidates have taken the use of music over the past sixty years.
Burtzos, Alexander; Gennaro, Joe
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Bogers, Gary M., "Music and the Presidency: How Campaign Songs Sold the Image of Presidential Candidates" (2019). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 511.