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Al Gore's Celebrity Playlist

Songs of the rich, famous, and lame.

11:00 PM, Mar 1, 2007 • By ABIGAIL LAVIN
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WHILE IT'S COMMON for the glitterati to take up political causes, the reverse--a politician taking on glitterati status--is rare, at least at the level that Al Gore has achieved. The formerly stiff, un-sexy Gore has become a bona fide "Rock Star," according to a recent Washington Post headline. The front-page article reports that, "No velvet rope can stop him. He rolls with Diddy. He is on a first-name basis, for real, with Ludacris." Never before has a former vice president been so trendy.

The Gore craze took off with the success of his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, which since its release last May has become the third-highest-grossing documentary in movie history. His pop-cultural clout reached fever pitch this past month when, less than two weeks before An Inconvenient Truth won an Oscar, Gore announced his series of "Live Earth" benefit concerts, slated for July and featuring pop music demigods such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Akon, and Fall Out Boy, all top-10 artists on the MTV charts.

But there is a skeleton in Al Gore's closet, a document that could well lead to his downfall among the MTV set. It's not a misfiled tax return or an inappropriate instant message. It's his iTunes playlist. That's right, kids, the avatar of coolness has taste in music that is, for lack of a better word, lame. Like, totally lame.

iTunes has hundreds of "Celebrity Playlists," which are essentially promotional gimmicks designed to sell mp3s and promote a celebrity's "brand." For instance, you might feel a personal connection with Woody Allen since he recommended that you listen to "Burgundy Street Blues" by clarinetist George Lewis. And you'd consider giving Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire another chance after learning that the film's star, Daniel Radcliffe, has great taste in early-'80s punk music. But Al Gore's uncool playlist is a different story altogether. Unabashedly sappy, it bears an uncomfortable resemblance to an alternative Ally McBeal soundtrack.

There's "I'm Alright," a touchy-feely twang from country singer Kim Richey. This song, Gore tells us, is "a perennial on my playlist . . . Anyone who has been through a tough experience--whether in love or in politics--can relate to this song." The list also features the introspective folk stylings of Jesse Winchester, and "This Land is Mine," a self-empowerment anthem by the British chanteuse Dido, a favorite of women everywhere, who have recently been dumped by their boyfriends. Tipper introduced him to it.

Gore seems to favor down-tempo, maudlin numbers, but there are some songs on his playlist that are more conventionally hip. Take "Gone Going," for example, an inspirational message about materialism from the annoying hip-pop group The Black Eyed Peas. Sample lyric: "He's singing songs about material things / And platinum rings and watches that go bling / But diamonds don't bling in the dark / He a star now, but he ain't singing from the heart." Gore does include a song by the talented hip-hop artist Mos Def, from his critically acclaimed album "Black on Both Sides." But Gore manages to choose the worst track from that album, a corny song called "UMI Says."



Gore may not have the taste of an actual "rock star," but this isn't to say that he only listens to bad music. It turns out that he and I both enjoy, "I Need to Wake Up" by Melissa Etheridge. But this excellent song's inclusion on the Gore playlist maybe be more practical than heart-felt--after all, it was the theme from An Inconvenient Truth.



Al Gore's playlist proves that you can put the man in Hollywood, but you can't put the Hollywood into the man.



Abigail Lavin is a staff assistant at The Weekly Standard.