Playlists Of Power
Everybody’s got some idea of what song they want played at their funeral, even dictators. So following the death of Kim Jong-il, the question must be asked—what are these guys listening to when they’re not kidnapping dissidents and ruling their countries with cold, iron fists? You can learn a lot about a tyrant from his or her favorite bands or composers. Hitler had Wagner. Mussolini had Verdi. Jong-il had… well, Eric Clapton.
Here’s a little mix we made, a guide to your favorite tyrants' favorite songs. We've also put together a round-up of six modern-day oppressors and what they popped on the stereo after a hard day’s work.
1. Kim Jong-il
Turns out that Kim Jong-il was really into Eric Clapton, and his son Kim Jong-chul reportedly saw Clapton four times in Germany while he was studying in Switzerland. Back in 2009, Clapton could have been the first Western crooner to perform in North Korea, after an invite from Jong-il himself, but he turned it down. An official North Korean cable published in 2010 by Wikileaks stated that “arranging an Eric Clapton concert in Pyongyang could be useful, given Kim Jong-il’s second son’s devotion to the rock legend. The performance could be an opportunity to build good will.”
2. Slobodan Milosevic
This tyrant was famous for kidnapping and murdering Serbian and Yugoslavian government officials, and full genocide in the Bosnian war. But he also worked at a bank in New York back in the seventies, and got really into Frank Sinatra. It was reported that he listened to “My Way” in his cell over and over again before his trial for crimes against humanity in Bosnia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia.
3. Osama bin Laden
Here’s a weird one. Sudanese poet Kola Boof was held as a sex slave by Bin Laden back in the mid-nineties. When she was released, she revealed that the master of al-Qaeda was massively into the B-52’s, Van Halen, and Whitney Houston. Boof mentioned that Bin Laden wanted to meet her, buy her a Sudanese mansion, and then murder her then-husband Bobby Brown.
4. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Irish crooner Chris De Burgh is famous for his 1986 tear-jerker “The Lady In Red.” It must have gotten to Iran somehow, because Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a reported admirer of this arty pop rocker. De Burgh was invited to play Tehran in June 2009, but performances were cancelled due to unrest following sham elections that kept Ahmadinejad in power.
5. Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe is an evil, evil man. He’s used military violence to hold onto Zimbabwe and even burned a political opponent’s wife alive. He’s also a huge fan of British pop singer Cliff Richard, who Mugabe has referred to as “perennially wholesome.”
6. Colonel Gaddafi
When Lionel Richie performed in Libya in 2006, Gaddafi asked for his autograph. On a sidenote, Richie later mentioned that Iraqis were bumping “All Night Long” on the evening that US tanks first rolled into Baghdad.
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