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TURNS OUT pretentious and moody teenagers aren’t the only ones sharing their ‘summer vibes’ playlists at this time of year. Former US President Barack Obama’s Spotify playlists and music recommendations have become a heavily followed and highly anticipated yearly tradition dating back to the 61-year-old’s time in the White House. 

Obama’s bespoke summer playlists feature music from a collection of the stars of today, up-and-comers of tomorrow and idols of yesterday. This year is no different. The former POTUS has delivered another mixtape that’s full of bangers. Posting the playlist to Twitter, Obama announced his summer playlist with his trademark cordiality, but with a touch of brusqueness hinting that as he enters his sixties, he may be getting too old for this kind of thing. “Like I do every year, here are some songs I’ve been listening to this summer,” Obama tweeted. “A mix of old and new.”

True to his word, Obama’s playlist is absolutely a hybrid mix of classic throwbacks and new-wave bops — and it’s hard not to love. Obama’s taste clearly transcends genre, with a range of styles on offer, there’s something for everyone, with everything from smash hits you can’t get out of your head to deep cuts you’ve never heard of.

Soulful jams like Aretha Franklin’s ‘Dr. Feelgood’ and Otis Redding’s ‘(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay’ are always a mainstay on Obama’s playlists, as well as 90s hip-hop anthems like ‘California Love’ by Tupac. But the ex-president also has a reputation for keeping up with the younger crowd. It’s no surprise seeing modern rap hits like ‘Who Told You’ by J Hus and Drake, and indie-rock trio Boygenius’ ‘Not Strong Enough’ making an appearance. What is a surprise though is the inclusion of ‘Princess Diana’ by Ice Spice and Nicki Minaj. We have to wonder if Michelle or his two daughters, Malia (25) and Sasha (22) initiated Barack’s interest in that one, why else would he be bumping Ice Spice?

Who is on Obama’s playlist?

Here’s the 44th President of the United States’ complete summer 2023 playlist:

J Hus and Drake: “Who Told You”

SZA: “Snooze”

Pretenders: “I’ll Stand By You”

Rosalía & Rauw Alejandro: “Vampiros”

Luke Combs: “Fast Car”

Tupac, Roger, & Dr. Dre: “California Love”

Leonard Cohen: “Dance Me to the End of Love (Live)”

Martha Reeves & the Vandellas: “Nowhere to Run”

Nobigdyl.: “Parabolic!”

Jorja Smith: “Try Me”

Burna Boy, 21 Savage: “Sittin’ on Top of the World”

Janet Jackson: “Got ’Til It’s Gone”

La Doña: “Penas con Pan”

The Bangles: “Walk Like an Egyptian”

The Beths: “Watching the Credits”

The War and Treaty: “That’s How Love Is Made”

The Rolling Stones: “Soul Survivor”

Aretha Franklin: “Dr. Feelgood (Love Is a Serious Business)”

John Coltrane: “Blue Train”

Ice Spice, Nicki Minaj: “Princess Diana”

Toots and the Maytals: “Funky Kingston”

The Righteous Brothers: “Unchained Melody”

Golden Lady: “Stevie Wonder”

Jackson Browne: “Doctor My Eyes”

Ayra Starr: “Sability”

Boygenius: “Not Strong Enough”

Otis Redding: “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay”

Bob Dylan: “Everything Is Broken”

Ella Fitzgerald: “Cry Me a River”

Yng Lvcas & Peso Pluma: “LA Bebe (Remix”

Money Man & Babyface Ray: “Drums”

Nas: “The World Is Yours”

Four Tops: “Reach Out I’ll Be There”

Pearl Jam: “Just Breathe”

J’calm: “Tempted”

Kelela: “Contact”

Marvin Gaye: “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”

Ike & Tina Turner: “River Deep/Moutain High”

Janelle Monáe: “Only Have Eyes 42”

Ashley McBride: “The Devil I Know”

Michael Kiwanuka: “Love & Hate”

Does Obama really make his own playlists?

During the course of studying Obama’s favourite tracks, you may have found yourself wondering what many others have wondered over the years: does he really like this stuff? For a man who presumably has a lot on his plate, Obama seems to have plenty of time to stay in touch with his musical side. 

It has been suggested that Obama doesn’t actually come up with his playlists, and that the task is likely handed off to some poor unpaid intern who, while clearly more connected with the music of today, is deeply regretting their decision to get into politics. 

Last month, Obama was asked exactly that. After it was suggested that he apparently isn’t cool enough to have such a modern playlist, the ex-president offered a light-hearted rebuttal. “People seem to think ‘Well he must’ve had some 20-year-old intern who was figuring out this latest cut,’ he said, before straightening things out. “No, man! It’s on my iPad right now!”

Who are Obama’s favourite artists?

While Obama has never officially named who his favourite artist is, he has consistently listed a handful of talented musicians in his annual playlists. So if his listening habits are anything to go off, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and SZA are the former presidents go-to guys as they’ve all appeared on many of his playlists.  


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