“Have you ever wondered what music Frank and Claire Underwood are listening to on one of their famed runs in Netflix’s House of Cards?”
This question came in an email my colleague received this morning from a third-party PR agency representing Spotify. It’s an interesting question! Yes, I have wondered this, actually, and I don’t take any issue with the agency’s hyperbole in describing Claire and Frank’s exercise outings as “famed.” This weekend, I jogged to Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. When I recalled the third episode of season 1 of House of Cards, I panicked, anticipating being screamed at by an elderly woman in a North Face vest. These runs are famous, at least with me personally.
If you’ve also asked yourself, “What are they listening to during those famous runs?” there’s good news: “Spotify has the answer,” according to The Outcast Agency PR. “Are Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden and Queen some of the artists that drive Frank’s ruthlessness and ambition? And how do Beyoncé, Tina Turner and The Rolling Stones inspire Claire’s razor-sharp and strong-willed personality?”
I don’t know how a personality can be “razor-sharp,” but I am curious. With that idle curiosity apparently in mind, Spotify has released running playlists for Claire and Frank. This is one of the lamest PR stunts I have ever seen, but it’s fun to try to deduce something about the brain of whoever watched House of Cards (season 5, now on Netflix!) and felt they had firm grasps on the characters’ musical psyches.
For the most part, whoever it is does have some idea about the listening behaviors of middle-aged white people. I can imagine my parents listening to the majority of the songs on both of these playlists. It is funny and true that Frank would listen to this much Kenny Loggins, and I like the inclusion of “Born in the U.S.A.,” which has long been a source of confusion for politicians who are too narcissistic to recognize satire.
However, I’m sorry to say, some of the inclusions are positively bonkers. For example, Frank’s playlist includes ABBA’s “The Winner Takes it All,” which is really very sad, and not about winning (or exercise). It also includes an aggressively xenophobic and violent song by Toby Keith, famed headliner of the 2017 presidential inauguration, and about as unlikely a supporter of Democratic president Frank Underwood as you can find.
Claire’s playlist is better. She’s a classic example of a politician who uses feminism as part of her personal brand, but would actually throw absolutely anyone’s rights in front of a truck. (“I’m willing to let your child wither and die inside of you” is still one of the scariest lines ever uttered on TV.) Therefore, it makes sense that the only Beyoncé songs she would know are “Run the World (Girls)” and “Single Ladies,” and that she would get amped up by the saccharine Pepsi commercial “We Are The World.”
I like that the version of “Stuck in the Middle With You” chosen for this playlist is the version from the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack, which as a reference, leaves very little to the imagination: Claire is a murderous sociopath, or at least she is interested in torture. Very cool. Though, as for the inclusion of Christina Aguilera’s version of “Lady Marmalade,” I don’t really buy the idea that Claire would’ve seen Moulin Rouge!, even as a guilty-pleasure film. Maybe Jawbreaker.
Anyway, these promo playlists are a good idea, as promo ideas go. The only tunes that make it onto a playlist that you use to work out are tunes that actually psych you up. Nobody postures on a workout playlist. Nobody thinks “I’m about to go work out, time to suffer through a Tame Impala record.” That’s why my workout playlist is just Jesse McCartney’s 2008 hit “Leavin’” on a loop, and before that it was the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Parade. It’s true, a person’s jogging playlist tells you a lot about them, and this is a fun way to do emotional cosplay (brain role-play?) as a TV character, if that’s something you would ever want to do.
Please release jogging playlists for the constantly jogging women of Big Little Lies. Also, while we’re at it, Mrs. Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights! Thanks, anonymous curator.