We predicted each candidate's probable effects on popular music, from a Rubio hip-hop explosion to a Clinton anarcho-punk wave.
Image by Suzie Kelly
Here's the dirty secret about presidential elections: For all the fervor and fanaticism, they have little to no effect on your day-to-day life. What a president does do is set the tone for the country—which directly affects the kind of music we get. Difficult times tend to produce better art. Just like extreme pressure can make a diamond, an awful president creates the conditions for truly great music.
Countercultural inspiration may come from other sources: Bob Marley's 1978 One Love Peace Concert culminated when he joined hands of the party leaders whose duel resulted in political violence. The Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher kickstarted UK punk. The Dead Kennedys mined punk rock gold in "California Uber Alles" by blending fascist imagery with sandal-munching, granola-wearing California Gov. Jerry Brown's creepy hippie vibes.
No single person wields as much global cultural influence as the president of the United States. In the 2016 primaries and November general election, no less than our sonic future is at stake. Think back: The national trauma of John Kennedy's 1963 assassination set the stage for the culture-changing music released in the years that followed. British bands took advantage of the power gap to invade. Bob Dylan went off. Soul took on a new urgency as it soundtracked the civil rights movement. Country discovered and eventually embraced its outlaws.
After that, the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon's resignation seeded the ground for the emergence of punk. Hardcore and thrash blossomed during Ronald Reagan's term. George H.W. Bush only have served one term, but it was a crucial four years that saw the rise of Florida death metal and Seattle grunge.
The younger Bush launched an ongoing war in the Middle East that continues to bear bitter fruit today, but at least he shook American metal from its nu-metal period with a thrash revival, the emergence of metalcore, and Lamb of God's move into the mainstream with the Iraq War-focused Ashes of the Wake.
Republicans have historically been better for heavy music than Democrats. What did Jimmy Carter inspire? Disco. Bill Clinton? Credit him for hip-hop's strong showing in 1994, but past that? Third-wave ska and Mouseketeer pop. Obama? There's been plenty of compelling alternative music made over these last seven years, but most of the people who are really pissed off these days are collecting guns and occupying bird sanctuaries, not distilling that energy into sonic piss'n'vinegar.
As you take to the polls this election year, think carefully about your ballot options: The sounds of the next four years are in your hands. Be careful about what you may bring down.
Noisey gazed into its political crystal ball to foresee what each candidate might mean for music during his or her term.
A new wave of American power metal (NWOAPM) greets the return of the dynastic Bush monarchy, but by the time he takes office, his low energy has become contagious, launching four long, sleepy years of chillwave. Florida responds by pioneering innovations in methrock.
Samples of the new President Carson discussing his career as a surgeon become ubiquitous in hip-hop and grind after Carcass releases "Sinus Separation of Conjoined Twins."
Christie's harsh anti-marijuana stance inflames those in states were it's now legal, entailing a sharp increase in the use of psychedelics. Nomadic hordes of hippies ravage the landscape as raves and jam bands dominate.
Voters don't seem super-enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton, although many see her as the best of a slew of bad options. Come to think of it, that's how music felt during her husband's run in the 90s—there were embarrassingly few great moments to be plucked from a vast sea of meh. We can expect the same of music during her presidency. The good news: An anarcho-punk revival breaks out over the outsized influence of corporate America on her government. The bad: men's-rights nu-metal.
The man with the world's most punchable face creates a tidal wave of black metal rising in response to his outspoken evangelical speeches. The beast with ten horns and seven heads arrives. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse—Ronnie James Dio, Lemmy Kilmister, Jeff Hannemanm and Cliff Burton—swoop down to devour souls. Darkness swallows the earth as the demonic riffs unleashed by Cruz's presidency annihilate all living matter.
Riot grrl hits the mainstream, as young women inspired by the election of the first female president are repulsed by her actual politics. Fiorina's past as CEO of Hewlett-Packard sparks a zine revolution.
Gilmore's term as Virginia governor saw Richmond band Avail release Over the James and One Wrench, while fellow RVA hardcore stalwarts transitioned from Inquisition to Strike Anywhere. Under a Gilmore presidency, the nation's bands follow suit and become slightly less cool. Also: Avail hype man "Beau Beau" Butler wins election as governor of Virginia.
Conservative bro country booms under the presidency of the former Arkansas governor, until a heavy-drinking, weed-vaping contingent breaks bad and brings back outlaw country.
Cleveland's hosting of the Republican National Convention and the election of former Ohio governor springboards rust belt hardcore icon Tony Erba into the mainstream. Erba, whose violent shows with the H100s, 9 Shocks Terror, Gordon Solie Motherfuckers, and Fuck You Pay Me left a trail of devastation dating back to the 90s, barnstorms late-night TV in a week that spurs an economic boom from the national effort required to repair the damage.
He may have inspired the mayor character in The Wire, but let's be honest: O'Malley has less chance of winning the presidency in 2016 than a reunited Guns'n'Roses (including Izzy and Adler) has of playing Maryland Deathfest.
Inspired by Paul's Libertarian principles, Neil Peart experiences a dramatic career resurgence, not only lifting Rush to new heights but fueling a prog-rock explosion. Nerds everywhere take to their instruments and write concept albums about free-market economics.
Known hip-hop fan Rubio's immigration reform brings a surge of Latino-flavored EDM and hip-hop. Pitbull is appointed as White House fashion consultant, which goes fine until Rubio gets his ear pierced ahead of his re-election campaign and everyone loses their shit.
Chaos reigns in local scenes across America. Confused punks look for a reason to rebel against the government but like Sanders to much to follow through. Anti-Semitic racists try to seize the underground but meet fierce resistance from Bernie Bros, and the ensuing scene war makes the dancefloor battles of early 80s hardcore look like a Quaker gathering. Aus Rotten's Fuck Nazi Sympathy gets a reissue, goes platinum.
All pornogrind, all the time.
Let's face it. The election of Donald J. Trump as POTUS would spark an artistic Renaissance, the likes of which has never been seen. His mere candidacy already has inspired Municipal Waste's "The only walls we build are walls of death" shirt and this, um, revisioning of Van Halen's "Jump." A Trump presidency will make America's counterculture great again. Everything will be bigger and better. How? You'll find out. It's gonna be huge!
...at least until Trump sets his sights on artists, and the Dark Time begins. After his goon squads seize all music instruments, there's a big wave of a cappella folk and hip-hop. When the seas finally rise, drowning all except for a select few who escape on Trump's private spaceship, the only surviving music will be the Top Gun soundtrack and the Freedom Kids.
Mason Adams is voting for the greater of two evils on Twitter.