By now it's obvious why Sarah Palin has become such an addictive pop culture obsession. She's a consummate tabloid queen — the perfect amalgamation of Paris Hilton and Dick Cheney in a cute, school marmy package. As music critics at a Bay Area alternative weekly, we receive earnest Barack Obama campaign songs in our inboxes like, every five seconds. We figured that if we wanted to get an homage to Sarah Palin, we'd have to be proactive about it.
The Sarah Palin song competition that we launched four weeks ago drew in seventeen submissions, ranging from pop tune rewrites to fully choreographed videos. We graded them for concept, lyrics, humor, style, musical depth, and aesthetic quality, on a scale of 0-5 bloody moose heads. The winner, "Sarah Palin vs. the Flobots" by M. Spaff Sumison, will receive dinner and tickets for two to see Beach Blanket Babylon. All submissions are available on the Express web site, so feel free to weigh in.
"The Sarah Palin Song" by Jonathan Mann
Our first entrant busted down the door with a semi-straight love song to Sarah Palin. His original tune and video reeked of amateur political satire, but there's just no denying the emphatic Bruce Springsteen gestations and use of a real pit bull. The folksy pop song is catchy but aimless, saved by the chorus and its declaration: Your righteousness is sexy, your lack of knowledge gets me off.
"Sarah Palin" by Deborah Crooks and Emily Stucky
You heard it here first: Paul Simon's 1970 hit "Cecilia" employed to rip Sarah Palin a new one. Deborah Crooks and Emily Stucky do a fairly rote job of it, changing only one word in the chorus (Sarah, you're breaking my heart, you're shaking my confidence daily) and modifying Making love in the afternoon to Making war.... The cleverest barb arrives at the end: Jubilation, they're out of the race/I fall on the floor and I'm laughing, but it's too little too late.
"Drill, Baby, Drill" by Judy Fjell
"And now, from Big Timber, the bastion of liberalism in south-central Montana ..." is as good an introduction as we could've hoped for. Seven middle-aged women dressed up in cutesy cowboy outfits and bobbing along to the jaunty strum of Fjell's acoustic guitar raises the charm factor even higher. The song is good, too — we'd listen twice! Only the video's fixed camera angle and homely living room setting are left wanting.
"Super Veep" by Alfred Spielmann
Bonus points for being earnest — and for giving us the chance to hear "Superfreak" outside of a wedding. While we won't judge the merits of Alfred Spielmann's political views, it's fair to say his interpretation of the song is hardly bullet-proof. The line She will never get your ticket down/Once you get her on the sheet is awkward at best, though come to think of it, She's super veepy, yow! does seem to bear the seed of a worthwhile Saturday Night Live skit.
"Republicant's" by the American People
Whoa people, no need to get angry! Republicans don't care about you/They lie and cheat and steal from you, announces this cogent street-punk outfit calling itself the American People. The song is fast and rough and, well, would go over nicely at 924 Gilman. The song only mentions Sarah Palin once, but it's a doozy: Sarah would be president if John McCain died/Seven things we know of her, six of them are lies.
"From Her Window Sill" by Jonathan Curley
Simple and stripped-down, almost to a fault. Almost. After all, isn't a guitar and a voice the backbone of folk discourse in this country? Curley's absent-minded playing relies on just a few chords, but his voice is perfect for the job, especially when accompanied by higher and lower harmony parts. And no matter what happens on November 4, he asks us to remember: Even in Alaska, teenage girls like to have fun Sneak out and get some.
"Drill Baby" by Jim Terr
As a criticism of Sarah Palin, Terr's music video is strangely apologetic. First, he apologizes for using Roy Orbison's "Dream Baby" as the music. Then, he halts the song to apologize for including a fake white-trashtic image of Palin holding a rifle and wearing an American flag bikini. Finally, he apologizes after images of drills destroying books (apparently, there's no evidence Palin banned any literature). There's a mysterious photo of a naked woman painted as a cheetah, weak lyrics, and in the credits, he admits his backup singers lip-synched. Basically, Kerr confirms the stereotype that liberals are complete pussies.
"Sarah Palin vs. the Flobots" by M. Spaff Sumsion
Clever appropriation of the alt-rap hit "Handlebars" by Flobots. The sparse, plucked-string melody perfectly frames Palin's simpleton persona (sample lines: I can lead the world with no résumé ... I can skin a moose with a table knife), then crescendos into something much more frightening (I can lead a state with no residents ... When Johnny dies, I'm president). Catchy and effective.
"Thank God I'm a Hockey Mom (The Sarah Palin Song)" by Lauren Mayer
Not the most compelling video: songwriter/performer Mayer dressed in her Palin best, sitting in her living room — but props for singing the song all in one take. A bubbly, rhyming country tune perfect for a Palin hoedown (chorus: Well I got me a fine guy who ain't no liberal/Sun's coming up I got moose on the griddle/Life ain't nothin' but a nuclear riddle/Thank God I'm a Hockey Mom). A valiant effort.
"Ballad of Sarah Palin" by Jeff Frankel
It doesn't matter that Alaska is as far north in the US as you can get; apparently, all conservative Republicans listen to country. Yee haw! Hence, Jeff Frankel submitted lyrics to the tune of "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" from The Beverly Hillbillies. Not exactly unique, Frankel's lyrics hit on the usual points (Bristol preggers, drill baby drill, hockey mom, etc.).
"Form Letter to Sarah Palin" by Gregory Beattie
About as DIY as you can get. Beattie, we assume, is the mustachioed middle-age dude dressed up as Palin (with lipstick) singing original lyrics, backed by his band-mates — bassist in the Alameda jersey and acoustic guitarist donning a huge fake beard. The song itself — more like a children's song — merrily gets into the mind of Palin: she of hockey mom, bridge to nowhere, proud parent of pregnant daughter Bristol. Not exactly damning, more celebratory.
"Palin vs. Wolfman" by Arlene Harriet Skjerly
Finally, no country! This song uses a synth-y dance palette as Skjerly sings from the perspective not of the bespectacled Palin, but of the wolf she tries to shoot from her helicopter. The story goes: Palin kills Wolfman's g-friend, prompting Wolfman to seek revenge; all the wolves Palin has shot come back to haunt her; Wolfman ends up proposing to Palin and they get married. Strange yet satisfying.
"Nailin' Sarah Palin" by Steve Goodie
Hats off to folk singer Steve Goodie for sticking to an AAAA rhyme scheme and finding no less than a dozen words that rhyme with "Palin" — mostly by clipping a "g" off the end ("mailin,'" "flailin,'" "inhaling,'" "humpback wailin'"). Goodie's rhymes drip with wit, even if the puns make you cringe. Plus Goodie gave some thought to the composition of his video, which includes two costume changes and a photo montage.
"Ballad of Sarah Palin" by Este Cantor
In this remix of Johnny Western's theme song for the 1957 Western Have Gun — Will Travel, Este Cantor portrays the vice presidential candidate as a swashbuckler driven by her own nefarious purposes. (Palin, Palin, where do you roam?/Let's drill the ANWAR pristine land/There's more where that came from). The rhymes are sometimes a little forced, but Cantor adorns the tune with quaint little Palin colloquialisms — where else would you hear "ain't," "darn," and "nucular" in a folk ballad?
"Doin' What Comes Natcherly" by Sarah McGrath
We have to applaud Sarah McGrath for her inclination to cull from the Annie Get Your Gun soundtrack. After all, the scrappy, gun-slinging cowgirl very much resembles the folk heroine that Sarah Palin aspires to be. While McGrath's lyrics don't quite fit the cadence of the original tune, her rhymes are still pretty witty.
"Palin Comparison" by Jesus Year
Hardcore Christian band Jesus Year (MySpace slogan: "Our savior is pissed!") offers an apocalyptic take on the world according to Sarah Palin in this up-tempo tune. A chorus yells and chants in the background while lead singer Manny of the Year rises to a vibrato wail. The song, which accuses the vice presidential candidate of taking a "hypocratic oath" and using Christ to get a fix, is perhaps the most rancorous submission we received.
"Sarah McCain Is a Sexy Sexy Barrel of Oil" by Paulette Nichols
Nichols actually submitted two songs — one about Sarah Palin, the other dedicated to her lesser-known running mate, John McCain. "Sexy Sexy Barrel of Oil" oozes with unappetizing, visceral metaphors, most of them oil-related. (She's coated in steel/But inside she's crude/A dripping black mess wearing pants and a blouse.) It's actually a quite fetching tune, appropriately slow paced with folk roots and lovely acoustic guitar.
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