Music At DNC And RNC Sets Tone For 2020 Elections

Live music lacking and unusual choices of recorded tunes reflect an unusual election year, experts say.
Posted at 5:06 PM, Aug 25, 2020

Between mellow virtual performances at the DNC and what seems to be an emptier musical lineup at the in-person RNC, the music at this year's political conventions isn’t really typical.

Dustin York, Professor of Communication at Maryville University: "It's different than the traditional, upbeat sort of approach, but it definitely hits a very specific tone."

To put it in perspective, here are some clips from past conventions. 

And here is what this year looks like. 

York: "I think the Biden/Harris ticket is trying for 'calm,' right? We're the ticket of calm, and using that music basically plays to that same brand of calmness."

This year's DNC included acoustic performances from artists like John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, Maggie Rogers and Billie Eilish.

Meanwhile, beyond the national anthem at the RNC, it isn’t really clear if there will be any more musical performances from major artists.

Because of the pandemic, what likely would've included crowded streets with food and live music is instead a quieter event. In past years, the RNC featured performances from classic rock artists like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kid Rock. This year, despite a lack of live or virtual performances, upbeat and patriotic songs are still being played.

David Jackson, Professor of Political Science at Bowling Green State University: "The demographics that each of the artists bring with them are demographics that the party is trying to persuade."

York: "Whether that be DNC using Latin music and culture-specific music, RNC using a little bit more traditional music, it’s speaking specifically to that target demographic in mirroring what they see in themselves."

Casey Mendoza. Newsy. Chicago.