Courtesy of Simian Media

October 12, 2016

ALUR | 30 Songs Until Election Day

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My mind has been beyond preoccupied with the upcoming election. Maybe it’s because this is the first presidential election that I’m eligible to vote in, or perhaps it’s because we’re essentially deciding between an experienced politician and a xenophobic businessman. Either way, I’ve been grasping at every last news story, praying to the universe that the fateful day in November will be okay.

In browsing Facebook for the latest, I came across a trending hashtag about Death Cab for Cutie. As any reasonable person would, I clicked, but what I discovered surprised me. Death Cab released a song yesterday entitled  “Million Dollar Loan” about Donald Trump. The music video for the song offers the lyrics against a montage of a Trump lookalike getting ready to build his empire with cinderblocks. The lyrics read, “Million Dollar Loan/Nobody makes it on their own without a Million Dollar Loan/Call your father on the phone to get that/Million Dollar Loan.” In this video, the Trump actor wears the red tie he sported at last Sunday’s debate, along with a hat that reads “Make America Great Again.” It’s far from subtle, but the song is catchy and poetic, crafted in typical DCFC fashion. I listened and laughed, curious as to why and how this came to be.

When asked about the song, Ben Gibbard, lead singer and one-third of DCFC, spoke about a particular moment in Trump’s campaign that deeply troubled him. Gibbard stated, “While campaigning in New Hampshire last year, [Trump] attempted to cast himself a self-made man by claiming he built his fortune with just a ‘small loan of a million dollars’ from his father. Not only has this statement proven to be wildly untrue, he was so flippant about it.” Trump has repeatedly aligned himself with the working class, when in reality, he walked into the business world with a loan far greater than what many Americans make in a lifetime. Gibbard’s lyrics describe Trump in harsh terms, even referring to his inability to apologize for his failings.

This song emerged on the site for 30 Days, 30 Songs, an organization founded by author, Dave Eggers and Jordan Kurland. The group’s aim is to encourage more Americans to vote against Trump on Election Day. Eggers and Kurland decided to blend art and politics during Obama’s campaign for re-election, creating a similar site called 90 Days, 90 Reasons. Both sites were not made or funded by the candidates. Instead, they house the opinions and artistic expressions of various musicians and creatives. The “About” section on 30 Days reads, “As artists, we are united in our desire to speak out against the ignorant, divisive and hateful campaign of Donald Trump” with several subsequent paragraphs discussing the merits of voting for Hillary. Apart from music, the site includes targeted, specific reasons why Americans should choose Hillary over Trump.

Just today, the organization released an Aimee Mann track entitled “Can’t You Tell?” Unlike DCFC’s song, this song is sung from the perspective Donald Trump himself. Mann adopts his persona, writing lyrics with as much arrogance and aggression as Trump’s speech. Perhaps the most ironic aspect of this song is the chorus. In these moments, Mann sings, “Isn’t anybody going to stop me? / I don’t want this job / I don’t want this job, my god/Can’t you tell/I’m unwell.” Here, Mann reminds us of how few people thought Trump would make it this far. Yet here we are, a month before Election Day, still discussing (and fearing) his potential presidency.

During Obama’s first campaign, artists, actors and musicians all gathered in support for the Democratic nominee. They stood by him, discussed his merits on television and social media. And they did a fantastic job at encouraging more young people to vote and get involved in the electoral process. This term, the stakes are higher, and Trump could very well threaten the democratic system of this nation. Musicians are once again taking a stance, using their art to persuade the masses to vote for Clinton. In the coming days, 30 Songs, 30 Days will release music from Jim James, Thao Nguyen and others. We’ll hear creativity mixed with politics, music and lyrics that reveal more about the dangers of a Trump-controlled America. And while your political views may differ from mine, I highly encourage you to stay informed on what the issues are, and listen to these songs about them. At the very least, they’re catchy, captivating tracks.

Anita Alur is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].Millenial Musings appears every other Wednesday this semester.