President Obama's Greatest Musical Moments

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A still from a joke video that was used on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, one of the first places that the President danced for a national audience.
  • A still from a joke video that was used on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, one of the first places that the President danced for a national audience.


When Barack Hussein Obama was elected President of the United States, it seemed like anything was possible. The fabled American Dream was alive and thriving. We voted for hope and change and we got them both balanced on the shoulders of a man who seemed capable of expertly executing the job.

Now, with only days left on the clock until our country comes under the power of a known psychopath, we mourn what we’re losing and look to the future with appropriate horror. It seems entirely possible that President Obama might go down in history as not just the first African-American president but also the last great American president. Ever. He wasn’t perfect, of course. Like all politicians, he could be hugely disappointing and his public silence and inaction on some matters felt brutal. But it seems safe to say that very (very) soon we will look back on President Obama's time in office as a golden era.

Not only was he an accomplished, charismatic and dignified leader, he was personable in a style that we’ve never before experienced. And one of the most effective and consistent ways that he connected with the American people was through music.

President Obama used music to showcase his personality and his compassion. He was never shy about expressing how deeply a song or a musician moved him. We knew his opinions on popular artists and it made him more relatable. We also knew that our president sometimes felt compelled to sing or to do a little shimmy. We even knew what he listened to on Spotify. And we loved it all.

Below is a collection of President Obama’s greatest musical moments. Thanks for the great work and the excellent music, Mr. President. We’d love another spin.

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This should’ve been our first indication that President Obama was going to be bumping. Here he is as a candidate, dancing his way onto The Ellen DeGeneres Show, as is the tradition:



Here’s Chi-town’s own Barry O joining Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy and BB King at the White House for a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago”:



Check out President Panty Dropper singing Al Green. That little bite of the lip! He really puts the “O” in Oval Office. It was kind of nice to have a President that was attractive and virile. (There’s no chance of that with the next guy.):



The White House hosted a tribute to Ray Charles, giving our main man another opportunity to showcase his pipes:



Many were charmed when Obama spontaneously sang “Purple Rain” to a kid dressed as Prince last Halloween:



He and Michelle also did an endearing little dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller":



President Obama invited Kendrick Lamar to perform at the White House on the 4th of July. Yeah, let that one sink in for a minute:



He awarded Bruce Springsteen the Presidential Medal of Freedom saying, in part, “I am the President; he is the Boss":



He also awarded Bob Dylan the Presidential Medal of Freedom and then later gave us a peek into how the whole experience went down with Mr. Freewheelin':



Let’s take a minute to appreciate that we had a black President who frequently celebrated music made by black artists while he was living in the Whitest of Houses. About damn time, right? Over the years President Obama has served as host for a wide range of African-American artists including Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé, Common, Janelle Monáe, Jay-Z, Jill Scott, John Legend, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Usher and the Roots. Here’s Obama singing “Jingle Bells” with Chance the Rapper at the most recent Christmas tree lighting ceremony. (Chance’s dad was Obama’s state director back in his Illinois days.):


In this clip the Obamas dance as a pre-Lemonade Beyonce sings the timeless 1941 classic “At Last,” made famous by Etta James in 1960:



Barack and Michelle danced a lot, actually. Dancing is where their passions meet, as it combines Barack’s passion for music with Michelle’s passion for getting active. In this video they’re trying the tango, but President Obama was known for dancing all across the world, from Alaska to Kenya:



And here they are having an impromptu boogie to “Uptown Funk” with R2D2 and a stormtrooper. They always seemed to have fun:



President Obama somehow even managed to make Jimmy Fallon’s moronic show tolerable for a few short minutes when he showed up to slow-jam the news:



Here’s a recent video from Usher of the President dancing to “Hotline Bling.” #Lit:



The President was also down with the kids, happily hosting his own festival called South By South Lawn on the grounds of the White House:



And here’s our boyfriend trying not to sing along with Aretha Franklin during Carole King’s Kennedy Center Honors ceremony. Was that a tear? And yes, even the President must stand when Aretha takes off her fur:



We saved the best for last. In this video, President Obama paused to sing “Amazing Grace” while presenting the eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney after Pinckney and his fellow church members were executed in a racially motivated mass shooting in North Carolina. The universally moving song was adopted by southern gospel culture decades ago and it was the perfect expression of President Obama’s humanity and a grieving nation:


Until next time, Obama.

Did we miss your favorite musical moment? Drop it in the comments.



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