The 2020 ‘Party in the USA’

Image Credit: Nurina Iman Nizam

Aoife Rooney looks at the recent US Election and its musical influence.

Monumental shifts in the governmental makeup of countries such as the U.S. will always have inadvertent ripple effects, both politically and otherwise. With the securing of Pennsylvania as a blue state, therefore confirming former Vice President Joe Biden as President-Elect and running mate Kamala Harris as Vice President-Elect, Democrats took to the streets of many major cities to celebrate the win. Music was heavily involved in these gatherings, with many taking to parks and congregating in the joint act of dancing and general celebration. With regard to the choice of music, many songs saw major spikes in popularity in the weeks following, now heralded as soundtracks of the Democratic win. Some of these include, “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus, “FDT” by YG and Nipsey Hussle, and “Celebration” by Kool and The Gang. All saw triple-figure percentage increase in streams compared to pre-election buzz. Cyrus’s album has re-entered the iTunes top 200 as a result, rocketing 810% in the charts.

Celebrity and artist involvement and convergence is not a novice concept. In the political and social media landscape that led up to both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, it made more of a statement if prominent voices from social media platforms and the entertainment industry did not voice their support for a candidate, most likely the Democrat on the ticket. Within the echo-chamber of music, film and entertainment, the overwhelming support that most users will see is Democratic, and for many living outside of the States, it was a surprise to see just how tight a race it was.

Seeing so many people out in the streets, congregating in outdoor areas, dancing and singing along to songs that, for them, symbolise the start of a new chapter in American politics and democracy as a whole, was a wonderful thing for many. It is all the more unique when these videos are rhapsodised by songs that many of the voters enjoyed several years ago. “FDT” (let your imagination spell it out) was popularised in the 2016 presidential election when Trump ran for the first time. The song, which understandably offends supporters of the Republican party was used extensively throughout the most recent run-up to the election among voters, signalling a way of differentiating voters based solely on music listenership. The song fleetingly saw the number one spot on iTunes on Sunday, November 8, and was downloaded over 3,000 times, according to Billboard, as a result of residents of cities across the country celebrating Joe Biden surpassing the necessary 270 electoral college votes.

Music plays an interesting role in politics, with many instances of song use at party rallies being contested by the artist if they don’t align with the party themselves. With regards to Republican rallies held by the Trump campaign, artists such as R.E.M, The Rolling Stones, Adele and Rihanna have all issued cease-and-desists to the campaign after they chose to use their music. Whether or not Donald Trump chooses to run again in 2024, chances are “FDT” will not be the soundtrack of the campaign trail.