A Pop Star President? 10 Musician Candidates Who Could Have a Shot

Bruce Springsteen performs at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Bruce Springsteen performs at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  

It's an extended gag that's turned into a why-not hypothetical that now seems to be inching ever closer to becoming an Actual Thing: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, superstar entertainer and generally beloved human, running for president of the United States. The Hill reports that a campaign committee -- which may or may not have the blessing of the man himself -- has filed official paperwork with the Federal Election Committee (FEC) to register Johnson as a U.S. presidential candidate, under the tagline "Run the Rock 2020."

If a major political party ultimately concludes that the only way to the Oval Office in 2020 is to fight celebrity with celebrity, The Rock would make sense as a candidate: As a multi-platform superstar of multicultural background, The Rock could appeal to a wide-enough swath of Americans to mount a credible charge at the presidency -- a case laid out in a recent GQ profile that posited that, should he so desire, "there's much to suggest Johnson could chart a fast and furious ride to the White House."

If elected, The Rock would be the rare commander-in-chief to also have a Billboard Hot 100 hit to his credit: "You're Welcome," from Moana, peaked at No. 65 in January 2017. But he might not be the only artist with Billboard history to have a potential shot at a 2020 run. Here are 10 other musicians who could be a credible celeb candidate -- five with political experience, five without. And before you roll your eyes at these names, ask yourself: Are they really any bigger a stretch than the 2000 Royal Rumble champ?

With Experience:

1. Jello Biafra. The frontman for punk legends the Dead Kennedys and spoken-word solo artist mounted a largely anarchic campaign for mayor of San Francisco in 1979 (garnering 3.79 percent of the eventual vote) and also was submitted for the Green Party's presidential nomination in 2000, finishing a distant second to Ralph Nader. His politics are likely too far-left (and his tactics too absurdist) for a major party, but as he once said of his mayoral run -- and which should only resound greater in 2017 -- "For those of them who have seen my candidacy as a publicity stunt or a joke, they should keep in mind that it is no more of a joke, and no less of a joke, than anyone else they care to name."

2. Martha Reeves. The powerhouse lead singer of iconic '60s girl group The Vandellas has yet to make a serious bid for national office but did assume civic responsibility in her Motown hometown later in her career, serving on the Detroit City Council from 2005 to 2009. Her single-term run was fraught with controversy, and after losing in the 2009 primary, she elected to return to "her first career" in music, but the current commander-in-chief is certainly no stranger to scandal himself, and damn if "Heat Wave" doesn't still go hard over a half-century later.

3. John Hall. A rare and true pop success story in U.S. politics, John Hall -- singer of '70s group Orleans, who scored a series of major AM radio hits in their day -- actually was elected to the House of Representatives a decade ago, serving as a New York representative from 2007 to 2011. After losing the '11 election, Hall opted out of politics to spend more time with his band and his family. However, if he ever decides to get back in the game, he already has the absolute perfect campaign song to do it with.

4. Kinky Friedman. The satirical singer-songwriter and country subversive endeavored into the world of politics in the 2000s, drawing the support of entertainer-turned-governor Jesse Ventura, and running for governor of Texas in 2006 on such slogans as "How Hard Could It Be?" and "He Ain't Kinky, He's My Governor." He lost, unsurprisingly, though he did garner a considerable 12.6 percent of the vote. Despite running for governor as an independent, further runs at office (including a 2014 bid for Texas state agricultural commissioner) have come as a Democrat, with Friedman declaring, "God probably couldn't have won as an independent."

5. Joe Walsh. The Eagles axeman and solo rock star has actually run for president before, in 1980 -- though his "Free Gas for Everyone" campaign was hardly the height of seriousness, and as a 33-year-old at the time, he was technically ineligible for the office anyway. His political career never really took off from there -- he did attach himself as VP to "Reverend Goat" Carson's presidential ticket in '92, with even less success than in '80 -- but he mentioned an interest in running for congress in 2012, telling WASH-FM: "If we can elect [people who are] not politicians that are from where we’re from, I think we can get something done."

Without Experience:

1. Bruce Springsteen. When considering musical candidates without political experience, it seems like a good start to narrow the field to outspoken artists with strong personal convictions who are already beloved by a large percentage of Americans. Bruuuuuce certainly goes 3-3 in those categories, as one of the best-selling American artists of all time, an avowed Democrat, and one with experience warring with a Republican incumbent (at least on some level). He supported Hillary in 2016; no doubt, a good percentage of his working-class fans would've felt more comfortable voting directly for him.

2. JAY-Z. In a previous political lifetime, Shawn Carter's drug-dealing, brother-shooting past -- all of which he's gone on record about, inside and outside of his art -- would've likely instantly disqualified him from America's highest office. These days, it's hard to say what lies outside such political bounds. If the Jiggaman's felonious roots could be rebranded as simply a shining example of a young man Made in America, then JAY-Z certainly has the financial and cultural weight to spar with our current commander-in-chief -- as well as the likely backing of his good buddy No. 44 -- and after the universal acclaim that greeted this year's 4:44, much higher approval ratings.

3. Barbra Streisand. One of Hillary's most passionate celeb supporters, and likely to fall under the same unfair "New York elite" boo-hiss branding should she attempt to appeal to Middle America. Still, nobody who's sold as many records as Barbra -- 68.5 million in the U.S. alone, according to the RIAA, making her the best-selling female artist in American history -- ever did so while appealing to the coastal U.S. alone, and if 2017 politics is all about force of personality, there aren't a lot of people from any walk of life who can compete with Babs on that front.

4. Krist Novoselic. The Nirvana bassist has dabbled in politics and activism in his decades out of the musical limelight, most recently advocating for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in the 2016 presidential election -- even publicly predicting Johnson could win the whole thing. As one-third of the most important American band of the late 20th century, Novoselic certainly has the clout for a campaign, though he may be somewhat lacking as a larger-than-life personality; should he run, he might want to consider a combined ticket with semi-official 21st-century rock 'n' roll spokesperson (and former bandmate) Dave Grohl.

5. Kanye West. He already told us he'd be there on the 2020 campaign trail, and whatever criticisms haters could levy against Kanye, insincerity and a lack of ambition were never among them. No point in counting down the ways Kanye's presidential run would obviously be unprecedented; clearly, these are unprecedented times. The only real question worth asking: Would succeeding No. 45 as leader of the Executive Branch inspire him to reopen his Twitter account?

if we can elect [people who are] not politicians that are from where we’re from, I think we can get something done

Read More: Joe Walsh to Run for Congress? | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/joe-walsh-to-run-for-congress/?trackback=tsmclip

if we can elect [people who are] not politicians that are from where we’re from, I think we can get something done

Read More: Joe Walsh to Run for Congress? | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/joe-walsh-to-run-for-congress/?trackback=tsmclip


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