Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama are arguably the most pop-culture forward first family in American history. The couple have produced several television and documentary shows together, and each summer and New Year’s Eve, Barack Obama drops a playlist of his favorite songs at the time. The playlist is typically a blend of several classic songs and newer ones by emerging artists. Among some of this year’s classics are Aretha Franklin, Pearl Jam, and the Pretenders.
This summer, Obama revealed that like much of the internet, he listens to rapper Ice Spice. The rapper’s track with Nicki Minaj, “Princess Diana”, was among the songs on the former president’s prestigious playlist. On the total opposite end of the genre spectrum, Obama also listed “Not Strong Enough” by indie rock supergroup boygenius. The band is made up of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus. Bridgers notably opened for Taylor Swift on a portion of “The Eras Tour,” appearing alongside Swift to sing their duet “Nothing New.”
Like I do every year, here are some songs I’ve been listening to this summer — a mix of old and new. Look forward to hearing what I’ve missed. pic.twitter.com/H2Do2iaD1p
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 20, 2023
The shocked reactions to Obama’s playlists likely stems from the perceptions of the prestigious job that is the U.S. Presidency, and the inclusion of Gen Z’s favorite songs. The Obamas share two Gen Z daughters, Sasha and Malia. It is likely that the combination of Gen Z family members and staffers influences the former president’s music taste. Nonetheless, the memes poured in.
Obama listens to ice spice ? I know a baddie when I see one pic.twitter.com/UPdRhsMdl1
— Dr.STAN_KRUGER 🇮🇹 (@krugersville) July 20, 2023
Social Media Reactions
Fans of Ice Spice were happy to see their favorite rapper receive such powerful recognition.
— Rap Alert (@rapalert6) July 20, 2023
Others joked that a young publicist must have snuck the track onto the list.
Barry publicist sneaking in Ice Spice pic.twitter.com/oQQwo5g1my
— Mommy (@SolamiMamis) July 20, 2023
Many Twitter users feel that Obama has the best music taste out of any U.S. president in their lifetimes.
okay this ex president had taste probably one of the best ex presidents
— ˚*•✩•*˚ (@ghostinae) July 20, 2023
On the boygenius end of the spectrum, fans of the band joked about the former president’s mental health. boygenius’ music is marked by the band’s intricate harmonies and songwriting regarding themes of mental health and working through trauma.
boygenius……..is he ok https://t.co/LvrXKhOuvS
— 🌸 Chelsea Cirruzzo (@ChelseaCirruzzo) July 20, 2023
While Ice Spice and Nicki Minaj are yet to respond to their mentions in the summer playlist, Lucy Dacus of boygenius has. The singer songwriter reposted the playlist and captioned it “war criminal:(” on her Twitter page.
war criminal 🙁 https://t.co/ikW3tMevxe
— Lucy Dacus (@lucydacus) July 20, 2023
While Obama is a progressive Democrat, with several progressive laws passing under his administration (notably, The Marriage Equality Act in 2015), the former president continues to be criticized for his foreign policy. While the Iraq War started long before his presidency, some feel that his administration prolonged the armed conflict. Additionally, the administration chose to keep a policy that allowed for indefinite imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay without charges, and accidentally delivered airstrikes over Yemen that killed hundreds of innocent civilians.
Dacus and her boygenius bandmates frequently discuss politics onstage and off. Bridgers was notably vocal amid the overturn of Roe v. Wade, which continues to limit access to safe abortions and contraceptives across several U.S. states. Fans of the band largely agreed with her statement, especially given her own Uzbek heritage. Uzbekistan is part of the Middle East, the very region Obama continues to face criticism over.
lucy this why we arabs love you
— huda (@boygenuis13) July 20, 2023
Others sarcastically commented lyrics from “Not Strong Enough” that they felt the former president could resonate with.
he really resonated w ‘idk why i am the way i am, probs
— A ☭ ☪︎ (@simamareeba) July 20, 2023
presidents shouldn’t be tastemakers presidents are uncool psychos 💔
— Sloppy Jane (@sloppyjanemusic) July 20, 2023
The band are reminding young voters to never idolize any politician, regardless of their stances or music taste, and that it is okay to not know why they are the way they are.