Ever since he attempted to snatch Ted Cruz’s Senate seat from the jaws of the GOP, much has been made of Beto O’Rourke’s punk rock bonafides. Profilers from Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone never tire of reminding us that he’s the Gen-X candidate who used to be in a band, i.e. not your grandpa’s politician. A new piece from Vice, however, actually digs into O’Rourke’s punk credentials by examining a playlist the 2020 hopeful made back when he was just a lowly representative from El Paso. The 14-song playlist compiled for Vice writer Daniel Newhauser paints a picture of a man with distinctly old-school taste, a penchant for romance, and surprisingly very little in the way of a political ideology.
Punk, in many ways, is an inherently political genre, but by selecting upbeat songs from The Only Ones, The Damned, and The Penetrators, O’Rourke defines his musical taste as distinctly apolitical. Despite his professed love of bands like Minor Threat and the general ethos of the D.C. hardcore scene, he seems to prefer the guitar-driven, fun-loving, power-pop punk of late-70s suburbia. “It’s all incredibly boring and not political,” says the The AV Club’s resident punk expert David Anthony—insert joke about how that could be Beto’s campaign slogan.
In order to get a variety of perspectives on O’Rourke’s musical taste, Vice shared the playlist (omitting O’Rourke’s name, of course) with a handful of currently touring musicians including Black Lips frontman Jared Swilley, Crocodiles’ guitarist and singer Brandon Welchez, and Mannequin Pussy frontwoman Marisa Dabice. While they each conceded that this was not the typical playlist you’d see from a politician, let alone a presidential candidate, they concurred with our assessment that these are safe, uninspiring choices, overall.
“I think I’m too old and cynical and too much of an asshole to fall for somebody just because they’re young and good-looking and listen to cool music,” Welchez tells Vice after learning the playlist was authored by O’Rourke.“If I want to be like a pinnacle obnoxious old man, I could say that the playlist is a little bit basic, you know. But at the same time, if I was drunk at a bar and that came on, I would be stoked.”
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