The 2016 presidential election has been heating up in ways one never thought possible, with Republican candidate Donald Trump insulting basically everyone who isn’t a rich white man and making absolutely zero effort to hide his federal tax evasion or opposite-sex groping habits. And because the idea of Trump in the oval office is so repulsive, writer Dave Eggers and the team that founded 2012’s 90 Days, 90 Reasons created 30 Days, 30 Songs: “a daily, evolving playlist… [that] will feature a mix of new material and unheard tracks by many of our greatest independent musical voices, all of whom want a Trump-free America.”
So far we’ve heard songs from Death Cab For Cutie, Aimee Mann, Jim James, Josh Ritter and Franz Ferdinand. On Sunday, Thao Nguyen of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down released “Before You Vote,” a blatantly angry track with lyrics like “He doesn’t care about you / And he doesn’t care about me / He just wants his terrible reality show back on NBC.”
We called up Thao a few days prior to the track’s release to ask about the track’s genesis. Below, she describes her initial trepidation at commenting on such a fraught election and breaks down the song’s meaning and intent.
“I did have my reservations because it was such a vitriolic landscape to throw your hat in [to].
[‘Before You Vote’] is a run down of some of the greatest hits of [Trump’s] failures in character. Because I was put off by how divisive everything has been, I was trying to focus on him and not necessarily his supporters. It’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek appeal to people who are considering voting for him.
I don’t believe that there’s a grey area for a lot of people on the fence about him. But I do believe that there are people who are voting for him who ignore and do not support his more misogynistic, racist, xenophobic leanings. I think they feel pushed into a corner. There’s a lot of economic distress. There are situations that make him seem like an option. So I wanted to keep that in mind and keep the digs focused on him. So I spend the verses doing that, but by the time the chorus comes around, I’m in a bit of a frenzy. When I wrote it and recorded it, it seemed a little more likely that he had a chance [of winning], so there’s a lot of panic and this irate disbelief that this is even an option.”
Listen to “Before You Vote” below.