White House Christmas playlists: Did Obama and Biden choose those songs?

President Obama's playlist confirms that he 'is the only American president you could reliably trust to DJ a party.' Joe Biden's list is, well, just so Joe Biden. 

Yuri Gripas/Reuters
The Obamas' Christmas caroling did not find a spot on their own holiday playlist.

Your home probably does not have room for 62 Christmas trees decorated with 70,000 ornaments, like the White House does. Ditto a 500-pound gingerbread house – it fits in the Executive Mansion’s State Dining Room, where it’s displayed this holiday season, but it’s a little large for the average American residence.

But if your house can’t look like 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it can sound like it. The White House has released President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s holiday playlists. Just select, log in to Spotify, and have yourself a political little Christmas. 

Barack and Michelle Obama’s list starts with tradition. The first song is the instrumental version of “O Tannenbaum” made famous by the Vince Guaraldi Trio in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Then it goes more modern, moving to “Let it Snow” by Boys II Men, followed by Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Other artists on their list include the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Whitney Houston. So it’s heavy on the classic or nearly classic choices in the Christmas oeuvre.

Did the president actually make these picks himself? The White House release says the list was “curated by” Obama and his wife. That’s a vague hipster formulation that covers a lot of circumstances, from “waved a hand at a piece of paper shoved under my nose by the chief of staff” to “spent hours talking about it over dinner.”

In general, the playlist effort fits in with the White House public relations push to get the First Couple into untraditional and modern media, from interviews with YouTube stars to an upcoming Obama appearance on Jerry Seinfeld’s web show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” And the administration puts a particular emphasis on music – there’s now a White House Spotify channel to share playlists generated by other officials, as well as playlists “curated around events and issues to engage the public.”

OK, that sounds strained – where’s the playlist for the Iranian nuclear deal? However, in general the White House has been successful in using tunes to connect with younger voters and other core Democratic constituencies. Last July, the influential music news and review site Pitchfork rated the songs and artists Obama has recommended or said he likes. Their reviewer approved.

“President Barack Obama is the only American president you could reliably trust to DJ a party,” wrote Paul de Revere on Pitchfork.

So maybe the Obamas did draw up the list themselves – almost everybody has favorite holiday tunes, after all. Richard Nixon found time as president to draw up plays for the Redskins. They flopped, but at least he did it himself.

As for Mr. Biden, he definitely had a heavy involvement in the VP holiday song stream, because it is one of the most Joe Biden things ever.

Who would the voluble “Uncle Joe” of the administration start with? Springsteen, who else? His No. 1 is The Boss’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

Then he moves to Neil Diamond’s “You Make it Feel Like Christmas.” Yes, Neil Diamond. And there’s more! He’s got Coldplay, Kenny Loggins, U2, Tom Petty, another Springsteen (“Merry Christmas Baby”), and George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers (“Delaware Slide”).

That is a very Blue Hen playlist. U of D forever, Joe. U of D forever.

Come to think of it, Obama and Jerry Seinfeld are supposed to drive around in a classic Corvette on that upcoming web show. As these playlists show, it’s Biden who’s really the 'Vette guy. Here’s hoping he gets a turn behind the wheel, too.

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