A pair of songs about optimism, resilience and escape -- Eminem's Grammy-nominated "Not Afraid" and Easton Corbin's "Roll With It" -- best define the mindset of America's mayors in these troubled economic times, according to a new poll conducted by Reader's Digest and Harris Interactive.
The wide-ranging survey, part of Reader's Digest's We Hear You America campaign, asked mayors of 200 cities with populations of 30,000 or more about a number of issues and presented them with four song choices to best describe their current states of mind. Nearly half (47 percent) of the 54 mayors who responded selected "Roll With it" -- the Hot Country Songs chart-topping second single from Corbin's self-titled debut album -- while the defiant "Not Afraid" was picked by 41 percent. Maroon 5's "Misery" and Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" were each the choice of six percent of the respondents.
"I never thought you'd hear my and Eminem's name in the same sentence," Corbin tells Billboard.com. "That's pretty cool, actually."
The Florida-born Corbin says the poll has given him a new way to look at "Roll With It," which was written about "growing up down home, going to the beach with the family on the weekend, kind of getting away from some stuff...It's really about throwing those cares out the window. Sometimes you have to have that escape to keep your sanity." The mayors' choice, he acknowledges, has identified a deeper meaning for the song.
"It's one of things where there's a tough economy, and these mayors, our public figures and politicians, are having to make these difficult decisions," notes Corbin, who continues to tour in support of his album but has also "just started" writing and gathering material for its followup, which he hopes to begin recording in the spring. "It's tough to get the outcome you need. It's a high-pressure job. To have the song relate to that and help them through that, it's such a cool feeling."
Reader's Digest President Dan Lagani says the mayors' top choices both showed "a sense that despite challenges people are facing, optimism ultimately is a major driver for the country...Both of those songs that did very well ultimately give the sense that we can prevail despite whatever the challenges are."
Lagani says he's not sure what role, if any, Corbin or Eminem might play in the magazine's upcoming 100-city tour to promote We Hear You America, which includes $5 million and promotional support for civic initiatives going on around the country. Voters are submitting "cheers" for their communities at www.rd.com, and the magazine will visit each of the 100 top vote-getters.