If you need a respite from the constantly churning chaos of the presidential election and its attendant news cycle, the White House has released two of President Obama’s summertime playlists on Spotify — and they’re good.
Just like last year, Obama couldn’t narrow his summer jams down to just one playlist, so he split them up into "Day" and "Night." (And lo, I finally found something I have in common with the president!)
While his 2015 playlists covered perhaps more predictable ground for America’s foremost Cool Dad — the Temptations, the Rolling Stones, Coldplay, etc. — Obama’s 2016 lists pepper the standbys with some (slightly) deeper cuts.
The "Day" selections begin with Wale’s "LoveHate Thing" — a fitting choice, given that the rapper is from Washington, DC. The rest of the list features a mix of previous White House performers (like Janelle Monae, Jidenna, and Sara Bareilles) and pleasant surprises (R&B guitarist Gary Clark Jr., Australian alt-rock singer Courtney Barnett, and New Zealand rockabilly singer Gin Wigmore). It’s upbeat, bluesy, and just about perfect for summer barbecues.
The "Night" playlist, meanwhile, focuses on what can only be described as slow — and, frankly, sexy as hell — jams, from Chrisette Michele’s love song "If I Have My Way" to D’Angelo’s "Lady" to Corinne Bailey Rae’s "Green Aphrodisiac" (I mean, come on). Obama even threw in some vintage Fiona Apple to keep us on our toes, or maybe just to remind us that "Criminal" is a fantastic, rich song that no one should forget.
As The Washington Post noted, Beyoncé does not appear on either playlist, though her song "Superpower" appeared on 2015’s nighttime one. But this omission is hardly indicative of some greater conspiracy against Beyoncé, especially because her most recent album Lemonade isn’t available to stream anywhere but Tidal, so there was no option to include any tracks from it on these Spotify playlists even if Obama wanted to. (Although, considering the way Obama’s swan song has been going, I feel comfortable saying his Lemonade choice might have been "Sorry," as in, "I ain't sorry.")
Still, what’s maybe more interesting than the new additions — and especially indicative of the president’s actual taste — are the repeat artists who’ve appeared on both the 2015 and 2016 lists, including Aretha Franklin and Miles Davis, among others. In Franklin’s case, Obama put "Rock Steady" on this year’s daytime playlist — the same song he chose of hers in 2015.
But if you really want to play some conjecture games as to how Obama’s mindset might have changed since 2015, consider his choice of Nina Simone songs. In 2015, he went with "Feeling Good"; in 2016, he opted for "Sinnerman."
Listen to the full Day playlist here, and the Night one here.