Though it's always strong, the intertwinement of politics and pop culture feels tighter than usual right now. Whether or not the political opinions of artists and athletes carry any authority with their fans (a debate that raged last week), artists and athletes are getting political anyway. Celebrities revile Donald Trump as much as they loved Barack Obama, turning every major cultural event from the Super Bowl to the Grammy awards into a political flashpoint.
Speaking of the Grammys, in honor of President's Day, Billboard took a look at which commanders-in-chief have earned the most mentions in music — favorably or otherwise. According to LyricFind, Billboard reported that Obama is way ahead of the pack, more than doubling second-place George W. Bush's 116 mentions with 309, most of which are favorable.
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Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan follow Obama and Bush, coming in at slots three and four respectively. Clinton has 109 mentions, while Reagan has 59.
Just over one year into his first term, Trump has already secured status as the fifth most musically-mentioned president, stacking up 33 name drops. "In an interesting twist," Billboard noted, "nearly half of the total Trump mentions were prior to his election in 2016, making 18 of the name-drops about his entrepreneurial persona, and not his new title." Presumably many if not most of those mentions came from rappers, perhaps the president's greatest musical enemies today. Billboard noted both Meek Mill and Mac Miller's earlier name-drops of Trump.
Trump's entertainment background has been explored ad nauseam, but Billboard's list gives us a more quantitative look at his fame in at least one segment of the industry. For a Republican presidential candidate to enter office with that kind of pop culture currency boggles the mind.
His carefully crafted persona as a billionaire mogul spoke to broad audiences — something those 18 mentions reminds us of — meaning Trump entered the race with a measure of positive familiarity already baked in.
At a time when the Grammys devote full segments to slamming Trump, that's easy to forget.