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Still Can't Decide? Try Obama & McCain Radio

The sneering types in the opinion journalism biz love to unload final week rants about what morons those undecided voters are, how it's just not possible that anyone could still be uncertain about their presidential pick at this very late stage. Well, I hear from lots of undecided people, even now, and some of them are out of it and some are very thoughtful and a whole lot are somewhere in between.

They want to know how to find the candidates' stands on the issues and they really read those position papers and the news stories about them. But they're also still trying to get a sense of each man and what he's about and where he comes from.

To help with that, the deejays over at Slacker Radio, a web site that uses recommendation programming to create web radio stations, have built McCain Radio and Obama Radio. The songs on each are culled from the music that the candidates have talked about in interviews about their personal taste, tracks from their favorite artists, the tunes played at their rallies and other events, and the themes they've put to use along the campaign trail.

You'll see strong, even extreme differences between the two playlists (I put these together from an hour of each station's programming.)

McCain Radio includes virtually nothing from the past quarter century of music. It is, in my listening, 100 percent white artists, with a blend of country, bright pop, early rock, and 70s lite FM hits. It's rarely treacly, occasionally inspirational, and heavy on 50s and early 60s classics.

Obama Radio is an eclectic blend of music you'd almost never hear on the same radio station in the highly segregated FM band. From McFadden and Whitehead's late 70s R&B hit, which for a time was colloquially know as the black national anthem, to Orleans' Still the One, which ABC-TV used for a while as its theme music, the Obama list is heavy with swelling, inspirational tunes, but it also gets much more obscure and all-encompassing than the McCain list. It's obviously a younger and more racially mixed playlist, but the tunes nonetheless range across five decades and at least seven radio formats.

In three hours of listening, I found only two shared artists between the two stations: John Mellencamp and Neil Diamond. I initially took this as a very bad sign, but I'm going to choose to believe that there's really no meaning to this.

Here's a typical hour of music from each station. Draw your own conclusions and let's hear them on the comment boards below....

McCain Radio:

Stevie Ray Vaughan: The House Is Rockin'

Merle Haggard: If We Make It Through December

ABBA: Mamma Mia

Bill Conti: Gonna Fly Now (theme from "Rocky")

Roy Orbison: Blue Bayou

Frankie Valli: My Eyes Adored You

Linda Ronstadt: Just One Look

Kenny Loggins: Danger Zone

Beach Boys: I Get Around

Neil Diamond: Sweet Caroline

Elvis Presley: Good Rockin' Tonight

Obama Radio:

John Mellencamp: Pink Houses

Stevie Wonder: Sir Duke

Kanye West: Touch the Sky

James Brown: Get Up Offa That Thang

Orleans: Still The One

Bob Dylan: Maggie's Farm

Ozomatli: Love & Hope

Howlin' Wolf: Wang Dang Doodle

Bruce Springsteen: The Rising

Elton John: Crocodile Rock

McFadden and Whitehead: Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now

By Marc Fisher |  October 31, 2008; 7:52 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

You have WAY TOO MUCH TIME on your hands to do this comparative analysis that has no bearing on how people will vote.

Grats on wasting a day that you got paid for...

Posted by: indep2 | October 31, 2008 9:18 AM

at least two on the McCain list (Just One Look and Good Rockin' Tonight) were covers of earlier R&B hits. Interesting that McCain prefers the covers to the originals, but then look at the crowd at one of his rallies and it all makes sense.

Posted by: eomcmars | October 31, 2008 9:26 AM

The thought of McCain singing along to "Danger Zone" makes me chuckle...

Posted by: westkurtliz | October 31, 2008 11:01 AM

Linda Ronstadt, interesting one to pop up on John's track. I kinda doubt she's a fan, but whatever. Very interesting mix on Obama's list. Reminds me very much of this years Virgin Festival.

Posted by: EricS2 | October 31, 2008 11:27 AM

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