As long as we’ve waited for it to get here — and as much as we feared it somehow never would — finally, Election Day is upon us. It’s doubtful that you really need a playlist of songs to get you in the mood for this election (frankly, if you’re not ready for it by now, you never will be), but if you have a little bit of a wait at the polling station this afternoon, you might want a fitting soundtrack to your performance of civic duty.
So enjoy this list of ten election-appropriate hits on the Billboard Hot 100, ranked by peak position — not all explicitly voting-themed, but all songs you might be liable to get stuck in your head today for one reason or another. (Yes, even the spoken-word ones.)
10. Paula Webb, “Please, Mr. President” (No. 60, 1975)
“Please, Mr. President” was a plea from ten-year-old Michigan resident Paula Webb, delivered over light orchestration to then-president Gerald Ford, asking the Commander in Chief to do something about her depressed dad’s recent unemployment (“Christmas wasn’t so much fun this year either / Please do something to help us, Mr. President”). Written by 25-year-old Randall Carlisle in response to the laying off of over a quarter-million auto workers in Detroit, the song won’t exactly get you pumped to cast your ballot today, but it’ll be an exceedingly sober reminder of some of what’s at stake with the eventual results.
9. Black Sheep, “The Choice Is Yours” (No. 57, 1992)
Queens hip-hop duo Black Sheep don’t offer much in the way of political guidance on their signature banger — though “don’t punch girls and we don’t punch a clock” is a decent-enough credo — but they do neatly summarize the fundamental decision at the heart of every election: “You can go with this, or you can go with that.” Might not be much of a choice, but it’s certainly better than no choice at all.
8. Jeezy feat. Nas, “My President” (No. 57, 2008)
One of the songs most associated with Barack Obama’s first election in 2008, Jeezy‘s joyous anthem isn’t as explicitly political as you might remember (even with Nas coining the word “pole-itician”) but it certainly carries the exultant feeling of triumph and achievement that so many felt with Obama taking the Oval Office. It’ll be an understandably bittersweet listen for many today, but always a worthwhile one nonetheless.
7. The Radiants, “Voice Your Choice” (No. 51, 1965)
Only a minor hit in 1965, “Voice Your Choice” is nonetheless one of the sweetest-sounding numbers of its era, with high and honeyed harmonies over a soft soul groove. Shocker, the choice in question isn’t being made for public office — the singers just want to be one girl’s stated preference — but if you need something a little lower-key to calm your frayed nerves today, this song’ll go down as smooth as a victory scotch.
6. Johnnie Taylor, “I Could Never Be President” (No. 48, 1969)
Possibly the only pop song in history in which the singer blames his lack of political potential on his devotion to his woman, with soul man Taylor claiming himself unfit to serve in the White House because he’d “lower all the taxes/ Just to suit your taste” and “bring home all the fellers/ From over in Vietnam/ Station them around your door/ So the world can’t do you no harm.” Hey, if the girl’s so great, just have her run instead, Johnnie — you sound like you’d be pretty happy as a doting First Husband.
5. James Brown, “Funky President (People It’s Bad)” (No. 44, 1974)
One of the most-sampled James Brown songs in history — thus making it one of the most-sampled songs by anyone in history — “Funky President” is a brilliant mix of social conscience and liquid funk, the Godfather of Soul calling for political change and mobilization over a groove so rubbery you can hear it bouncing around your eardrums. Plus, “We got to go under / Before we go over” proves that high-low sloganeering is nothing new to this election cycle.
4. Johnny Sea, “Day For Decision” (No. 35, 1966)
Probably the most overly serious (and certainly the most conservative) song of the bunch, a spoken-word reading of the riot act to the cynical youth of mid-’60s America from country singer Johnny Sea, so sincere in its defiant patriotism that it actually ends with a rendition of “America the Beautiful.” An unlikely Top 40 hit in an era when flower-power was quickly approaching its zenith, “Day for Decision” remains a powerful reminder that the silent majority is never to be counted out.
3. Alice Cooper, “Elected” (No. 26, 1972)
In the early ’70s, there was probably no greater nightmare for middle America than the idea of Alice Cooper holding public office, as he intends to do in some form here: “Kids want a savior, don’t need a fake/ We’re gonna rock to the rules that I make / I wanna be elected, elected, elected.” Today, like much of Cooper’s shock-rock, the thing sounds quaint and mostly adorable — there are much scarier realities to face in 2016 than the idea of a golf-loving ex-glam god in government.
2. Re-Flex, “The Politics of Dancing” (No. 24, 1984)
“We’re under the pressure / Yes, we’re counting on you.” This goofy one-off from British new-wavers Re-Flex may not pack the urgency of traditional political songs — though based on this list, it’s hard not to wonder if such a concept even truly exists within the pop realm — but it’s clearly an action item of some import for the band in question, making you wonder what kind of Footloose-like dancing controversy existed in early ’80s U.K.
1. Arcadia, “Election Day” (No. 6, 1985)
Well, at the very least, you can’t ask for a more appropriately titled song to be topping this countdown today. Arcadia was a side project formed by half of ’80s superpowers Duran Duran, and like most Simon LeBon-scribed lyrics of the mid-’80s, the song’s narrative is inconsistent at best: “Pull my shirt off and pray / We’re coming up on re-election day” goes the chorus, a confusing couplet for any number of reasons. The song’s bridge is more timely for today’s events anyway: “Shouldn’t be asking, wild and scheming / Could be my election day.” At the very least, the asking and the scheming should both be over after today.