President Obama's Summer Playlist Is Meant for Lovers (and Sex)

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Last Friday, President Obama decided to reveal what he’s been playing in the White House all summer. Technically, this means the last summer of the Obama White House has meant that White House staffers and Joe Biden have passed him the aux cord since May. Well, probably since January 2009, but you get the point.

If there’s a barbecue on the White House lawn, Obama is not only getting the First Plate, the biggest piece of Rib/Chicken/Steak, but he also handles the sounds. Those are the rules when you’re the President of the United States.

There are two mixes from the 2016 Summer Playlist, one for Daytime and one for Nighttime (you can hear them in full on Spotify). The Daytime one is crucial because it’s very outdoor and BBQ-friendly. Prince’s “U Got The Look” is there. Same for the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations." We’ll forgive him for “Classic Man” by Jidenna but if that song doesn’t represent a segment of pompous D.C. that says “I Work In D.C.!”, then I don’t know what does. Obama must be credited for his variety here, for a number of reasons. We’ll give a minor breakdown here:

Song Most Likely To Ensure a Body-Rock Competition: JAY Z & PHARRELL, “So Ambitious”
One of The Blueprint 3’s best tracks is horn- and braggadocio-heavy. I mean, it’s Jay Z talking about making it to the highest of highs and a story Obama is literally living out.

Song Most Likely To Lead to a Step Competition: JIDENNA, “Classic Man”
You know why. I know why. Let us never discuss this song again.

Artist You’d Be Shocked the President Knows About: CHARLES MINGUS
I mean, Obama has been so vocal about keeping jazz alive that closing out a summer playlist with Mingus, one of the more underrated bassists, makes perfect sense for him.

However, the real joy of #POTUSPlaylist comes in the Nighttime section. I mean, look at that gorgeous piece of sequencing. It starts off with a bit of neck-rolling, tongue-in-cheek sass via Chrisette Michele and closes with an absolute baby-maker in “Say Yes." Why are these things essential for a playlist of this magnitude? Easy, there should be a theme to any “nighttime” playlist. And by “nighttime” playlist, we’re obviously discussing a playlist where sex is the main objective either during the playlist or after the completion of said playlist.  Each of the 20 songs involved on the Nighttime Playlist fits into certain categories, which, I’ll extrapolate here just for effect. And also, so you don’t accidentally think you’re being sexy as hell putting on a song that is the absolute worst thing to play when you’re trying to get it on.



2. METHOD MAN & MARY J. BLIGE, “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need to Get By”


4. AARON NEVILLE, “Tell It Like It Is”

All these are warm-up records, songs to ease the mood and tension. Ice breakers. Imagine being next to someone you care for, and you hear Mary J. Blige act like she’s Tammi Terrell and Method Man act like a Staten Island Marvin Gaye. You cannot help yourself to try and reenact this entire song. It’s like a perfect date record where you essentially look 4 percent cooler than Michael Jackson in “The Way You Make Me Feel” video but 96 percent inferior to Michael Jackson in every way. And because every interaction always reeks of “let me assert my manhood without being a creep,” “Tell It Like It Is” is so old-school and yet right. You don’t want to be played or led astray, especially when you’ve cut ties with all the ones you knew weren’t gonna mean anything and this one forever will. Chance the Rapper’s inclusion here is merely a hat-tip to his explosive 2016 and the moment when you’re walking with your lady and asking all the right questions.


5. DENISE LASALLE, “Trapped By A Thing Called Love”

6. MILES DAVIS, “My Funny Valentine”

7. CORINNE BAILEY RAE, “Green Aphrodisiac”

8. LEDISI, “Alright"

9. CAETANO VELASO, “Cucurrucucú Paloma"

I’m sure all of these selections were inspired by Southside With You. Yes, the Obamas have an entire movie dedicated to their very first date. That, is player shit for real. Corrine Bailey-Rae has made "lay your body on a cloud and fall in love with my melanin music" since I was freshman in college. Of course she’d show up here with “Green Aphrodisiac."



11. CARMEN MCRAE, “Midnight Sun”

12. BILLIE HOLIDAY, “Lover Man"


13. FIONA APPLE, “Criminal”

Both of these sections are kind of one and the same. One is essentially to show somebody that if you’re gonna bring them into the bedroom, they’re not gonna hear R. Kelly, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, 112 or *shudders* Trey Songz. Yeah, it’s a bit over the top and showing how much of a music snob you are, but it gets the job done. Why? Because a conversation about jazz will forever lead to a different segment of conversations. Obama’s upbringing in Hawaii pretty much ensured that the classiest of players made certain a few Coltrane and Miles and Charlie Parker records were on hand.

Also, how the hell did we come into 2016 with a President who appreciates Fiona Apple records? And not just any Fiona Apple record, THE Fiona Apple record that made a large segment of kids born in the ‘80s fall in love with her? Obama is slick. Slick, I tell you.


14. WAR, “All Day Music”

15. D’ANGELO, “Lady”

16. LIZZ WRIGHT, “Lean In”

17. TOWER OF POWER, “So Very Hard to Go”

Soul music has its variants. However, in terms of this playlist? It’s the very, very last step before you get to your ultimate mission. Slow dancing, staring into one another’s eyes, first big kiss. All of these things are tied to records like D’Angelo’s “Lady” and Tower of Power’s “So Very Hard To Go." War? War is definitely warm-up music. Warm up for the...


18. JANET JACKSON, “I Get Lonely”

19. FLOETRY, “Say Yes”

20. ANTHONY HAMILTON, “Do You Feel Me”

Plain and simple, these are the three records that told a lot of people that the President and the First Lady still get it on in various rooms of the White House. Like, college kids trying to sneak off from a party get it on. Like, this is why Malia is enjoying teenager shit at Lollapalooza and Sasha is working at Red Lobster for a damn summer job. President and Mrs. Obama have essentially cornered the market on making sure any of those 56 rooms in the White House smell like sex.

And who the hell could blame them? They really don’t have much else to do except enjoy each other’s company and occasionally act like they’re dating again. Which makes me think, are we certain Obama released this playlist and not one of OG Ron C’s classic Fuck Action CDs for the sake of being...well, not completely filthy and telegraph his bedroom actions?

No, the President has a Fuck Action CD. If J. Cole can go double platinum with no features, the President has at least heard F-Action 22 and played R. Kelly’s “The Greatest Sex."

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.