Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song,” the unofficial anthem of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, is bad. It is an insult to the American people, and it must go.
Reporters have been begging for it to stop playing. Campaign staffers have been stealth-faving complaints about it on Twitter. The rest of us have been humming it madly, as in angrily, as in whatever your political leanings, the odds are high that every time you think of it you grit your teeth and hiss stop stop STOP, even if you are just doing it in your sleep and then waking up and wondering why your jaw hurts. It is catchy like cholera. It is rhythmic like the Jumanji drum. It would, in almost any other year, have batted its eyes at us for a few months and then been gone forever. But Clinton’s campaign had the nerve to rerecord it as a knockoff Kidz Bop sing-along for the Democratic National Convention in July.
I get it. Hillary wanted to differentiate herself from Bill’s campaigns, and thus from Fleetwood Mac. Unfortunate, but fine. OK. So imagine you’re sitting down to determine the ways in which this anthem should diverge from “Don’t Stop.” Should it feature Stevie Nicks? No, it should not. Should it contain the words yesterday’s gone? No, probably not. Should it be from 1977, the year that also gave us “Margaritaville,” the greatest song that will ever be written by mere mortal man, a paean to his endurance and feeling? No, I am saving this for my 2044 run for office. But somewhere down this checklist, a staffer doped up on dry-erase fumes went too far, ruling out two other important criteria for Hillary’s campaign song: (a) that the song be even vaguely on-message, and (b) that it not be completely horrific.
Can we discuss what “Fight Song” is about? It is about how hard it is to be a successful pop star. More generally, it is about coming back from something difficult and then succeeding, and fuck the haters. And it is, in spite of the very many haters that Clinton has accrued over her years in and around public office, totally unfit for her (or any) political campaign.
Let’s look at the chorus. “This is my fight song.” OK. Fighting. Singing. Sure. But then: “Take back my life song. Prove I’m all right song.” What? Sorry, what???????? Was Hillary’s life taken away? Has something gone horribly awry? Is Breitbart, somehow, right about everything? Is she using “my life” as a euphemism for “the good pillows in the residence”? Was she at karaoke one night and, not knowing any of the available songs, chose one at random by title alone?
But Claire, you might say, plenty of campaign anthems didn’t actually make sense! You know what was different about those songs? They didn’t suck.
Now. I am sure Rachel Platten is very nice. She has said it took her a year and a half to write “Fight Song,” and if she is going to tether herself to her double-platinum rocket ship and let every last penny rain down upon her until she and “Fight Song” melt into plasma, good for her. This is her right. Not everyone hates “Fight Song,” after all: It has sold 2 million U.S. copies and counting, and someday, when I go for the first jog of my life, I might play it as I run down my street. (I will not play it five minutes later, when I decide never to go for a run again.) But there is a time and a place for up-tempo, bubblegum pop — for instance, in Ford commercials.
So stop saying the things you didn’t say. Keep the wrecking balls inside your brain. And please, for the love of democracy, do not ever scream “Fight Song” loudly again.