For reasons better not gone into, Rocks Off has been running around YouTube searching for presidents singing, rapping, and otherwise making music, and YouTube delivered as usual. It's like the Web site is a kind of third-rate God that answers every prayer, but only with penis jokes and Rick Astley, and all the hosannas are made of up people shouting, "first," "fag" and "fake."
Still, we got what we wanted, and what we wanted was to present to you songs featuring the five most recent commanders-in-chief. Let's go.
Sometimes presidents can be funny. Calvin Coolidge was freakin' hysterical, and Lincoln was always good for some self-deprecating humor. Reagan, though? Not so much. In 1984 he tested his microphone at a speech by "humorously" saying, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."
Even before the Internet, stuff like that gets picked up, and you can bet that the people pointing nuclear weapons at us did not think it was the height of humor. Neither did Jerry Harrison, Bootsy Collins and producer Daniel Lazerus, who sampled the sound byte and turned it into "Five Minutes," a single credited to Bonzo Goes to Washington.
When U2 went on their Zoo TV tour in the early '90s, they had the Emergency Broadcast Network put together the above video of George H. W. Bush singing Queen's "We Will Rock You" as part of their pre-show. In the 1993 leg of the tour it was replaced with footage from Triumph of the Will, a film as revolutionary in its development of many contemporary cinematic techniques as it is an abhorrent propaganda tool for the Nazis. Seems quite a jump in message to us.
Bill Clinton is the only person on this list who actually knew he was making music. His 1992 saxophone rendition of "Heartbreak Hotel" on The Arsenio Hall Show is credited with helping him launch the popularity that eventually netted him the presidency. Of course, in light of later events he might have picked something a little less... Elvis
We thought it only appropriate that if Bush 1 was going to be used by U2, that Bush 2 should get to use U2 right back.
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Whether or not Obama is technically performing in this video is open for debate, but we've seen more than one artist lip-sync, so we're counting on it. You can thank the folks at Bad Lip Reading for this wonderful groove.