The Perfect Theme Song For Every President, Because Thomas Jefferson & "Timber" Go Beautifully Together

We all know Beyoncé and President Barack Obama are tight. If Obama had to pick a theme song for himself, I hope it would be "Run the World" — "My persuasion can build a nation" — and Beyoncé would personally perform it everywhere he went (when it works for her, of course; she's a busy woman). This politician-pop singer duo is a no-brainer.

But not every president has had the good fortune to be friends with such top-tier musicians. In fact, most presidents served before Beyoncé was even alive (I know, it's hard to think about that time). What music did those former presidents like, if any? More importantly, what musicians would they listen to — and commission personal concerts from — if they were serving today? Because presidents are people too, we decided to look into it. Some revealed themselves to be R&B lovers, others devoted Swifties, and still others the kind of person who only listens to ambient music and John Cage because they don't believe in melody or lyricism.

You might be surprised by your favorite president's selection. Hopefully, you will make a playlist of these songs, and it will help you remember the presidents in order — stopping to think for an extra moment about a young John F. Kennedy.

Judge for yourself what each pick means about each president. No theme song is better than any other. Everyone deserves a theme song, even William Henry Harrison.

George Washington: "Primadonna"

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

“Primadonna” - Marina and the Diamonds

“All I ever wanted was the world.” Look at Washington’s sorrowful eyes. He tried to tell the American people not to form political parties, and look what we turned around and did?

John Adams: "Boyfriend #2"

“Boyfriend #2” - Pleasure P

This song is about coming in second but still knowing that you are the best, and you can do just as well as — or better than — anyone who came before you.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Jefferson: "Timber"


“Timber” - Kesha (SOLO VERSION.)

“I’m goin’ out tonight to get the things that I need. I’m gonna take what’s mine and do it viciously.” Jefferson was not fooling around, and neither is Kesha — she got real about dropping the dollar sign from her name, and Jefferson got serious about individual rights. These two would be pals.

James Madison: "Miss Me"

“Miss Me” - Andy Grammer

Can’t you picture the Father of the Constitution singing, “I promise you this, you’re gonna miss me”?

Image: Wikimedia Commons

James Monroe: "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” - Simon and Garfunkel

Monroe was a great negotiator — he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. He would appreciate a good song about being a peacemaker. He also seems like a Simon & Garfunkel type — reserved, skinny, white.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

John Quincy Adams: "Sensitive Artist"

“Sensitive Artist” - King Missile

In this song, the sensitive artists of King Missile shout and whine about how “nobody understands me because I am so deep.” This sounds like something Adams might have written in his diary. No one understood him, and Congress blocked him. True words stolen from Adams and put in this song: “I stay home reading books that are beneath me and working on my work, which no one understands.”

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Jackson: "Clique"

“Clique” - Kanye West ft. Big Sean and Jay-Z

Jackson believed in the power of the clique: His presidency marked the beginning of the spoils system in American politics, in which new presidents staff the White House with their friends. This is something Kanye West would definitely do and is probably planning to do.

Jackson also looks a lot like he has been living this song: “It’s grind day, from Friday to next Friday. I been up straight for nine days, I need a spa day.”

(Side note: Why does Andrew Jackson look so much like President Walker from House of Cards? Reincarnation?)

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Martin Van Buren: "Ballad of a Thin Man"

“Ballad of a Thin Man” - Bob Dylan

His opponents called him “Martin Van Ruin” because he wasn’t super good at handling financial matters. He was scapegoated for the economic depression of his time, and probably would have spent a lot of time drinking and listening to this song.

“You raise up your headAnd you ask, ‘Is this where it is?’And somebody points to you and says‘It’s his’And you say, ‘What’s mine?And somebody else says, ‘Where what is?’And you say, ‘Oh my GodAm I here all alone?’”

Image: Wikimedia Commons

William Henry Harrison: "15 Minutes"

“15 Minutes” - The Yeah You’s

Poor Harrison was only in office for a short period of time — he died of pneumonia after 32 days as president. The song goes, “I’m happy with my fix of fame. When I’ve had my fill, I get my life back.” Maybe Harrison is happier this way — he at least got his 15 minutes of fame.


John Tyler: "Countdown"

“Countdown” - Beyoncé

Tyler was the 10th president. This song is about counting down from 10.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

James K. Polk - "James K. Polk"

“James K. Polk” - They Might Be Giants

“Precious few have mourned the passing of Mister James K. Polk, our eleventh president, Young Hickory, Napoleon of the Stump.”

I think if I ever die, I want people to remember me as something of the Stump. In context, it meant that Polk was a great speaker, but I prefer to think of it out of context.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Zachary Taylor: "Eye of the Tiger"

“Eye of the Tiger” - Survivor

They called Taylor “Old Rough and Ready” for his toughness in war. This classic fight song would have spoken to him.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Millard Fillmore: "Feel Again"

“Feel Again” - OneRepublic

Fillmore sounds like feel more. However, Fillmore did not need to feel any more than he did. He was already pretty charitable — he opposed slavery and helped found a hospital.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Franklin Pierce - "Haven't Met You Yet"

“Haven’t Met You Yet” - Michael Bublé

Pierce was known for being friendly, so he would definitely be the kind of person who thought of strangers as friends he just hasn’t met yet.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

James Buchanan - "Ridin' Solo"

“Ridin’ Solo” - Jason Derulo

Buchanan was the only president to be a lifelong bachelor, aka ride solo for his whole life.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Abraham Lincoln: "6 Foot 7 Foot"

“6 Foot 7 Foot” - Lil Wayne ft. Cory Gunz

Tall guys have to stick together. Lil Wayne is not tall, but he sure can rap about being tall.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Johnson - "It's Alright, It's OK"

“It’s Alright, It’s OK” - Ashley Tisdale

Johnson was the first president to be impeached, but it’s all OK. He’s so much better without you.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Ulysses S. Grant - "6-Hour Mozart Piano Classical Music Studying Playlist Mix"

“6-Hour Mozart Piano Classical Music Studying Playlist Mix” - Mozart

Grant did not have any distinguishing personality characteristics.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Rutherford B. Hayes - "Johnny B. Goode"

“Johnny B. Goode” - Chuck Berry

These two would have had a great time hamming it up about their middle names, the president and the fictional song title character.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

James A. Garfield - "Please Mr. Postman"

“Please Mr. Postman” - The Marvelettes

In his sadly short-lived presidency of only 200 days, Garfield managed to make some accomplishments, including ridding the Post Office of corruption.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Chester A. Arthur - "Ships in the Night"

“Ships in the Night” - Mat Kearney

Arthur took pride in presiding over the U.S. Navy, but he was criticized for failing to handle the accumulation of the federal budget surplus. Seems his good deeds were overlooked … just like ships in the night.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Grover Cleveland - "Honestly"

“Honestly” - Hot Chelle Rae

Cleveland was beloved for his honesty, a trait not every president possesses. He was also named after a character on Sesame Street.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Benjamin Harrison - "Middle Management"

“Middle Management” - Bishop Allen

Caught between Grover Cleveland and Grover Cleveland, Harrison never got to build his own legacy.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Grover Cleveland - "Oops I Did It Again"

“Oops I Did It Again” - Britney Spears

“Oops, you think I’m in love, that I’m sent from above…but I’m not that innocent.”

Image: Wikimedia Commons

William McKinley - "Gold"

“Gold” - Britt Nicole

Much like this very temporary chart-topper, McKinley was very invested in the gold standard. Unlike Britt — yes, there are differences — McKinley wanted to avoid inflation, whereas Britt wants to inflate people’s egos.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Theodore Roosevelt - "Ego"

“Ego” - Beyoncé ft. Kanye West

“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

“I got a big ego, (hahaha). I’m such a big ego, (hahaha)”

Image: Wikimedia Commons

William Howard Taft - "All About That Bass"

“All About That Bass” - Meghan Trainor

Taft was our bass-iest president, at 430 pounds. Rumor has it he used to get stuck in the presidential bathtub.

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Woodrow Wilson - "Folsom Prison Blues"

“Folsom Prison Blues” - Johnny Cash

There used to be a lot of train laborers going like this:

“I hear the train a comin’It’s rolling round the bendAnd I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when.”

But then Wilson came along and imposed an eight-hour workday for railroad workers, and he averted a strike, and everyone was happy.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Warren G. Harding - "Rockstar"

“Rockstar” - Hannah Montana

Harding advocated for a “return to normalcy” after World War I, but he was far from average. He was a thoroughly modern president who believed in actual rights for women and African Americans. He also had great eyebrows. He might even be a rock star.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Calvin Coolidge - "Cooler Than Me"

“Cooler Than Me” - Mike Posner

Calvin Coolidge was probably cooler than you. He said basically nothing. That is the epitome of cool. He also “embodied the spirit and hopes of the middle class.” That is way cool.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Herbert Hoover - "The Way I Am"

“The Way I Am” - Ingrid Michaelson

Hoover was elected president despite a total lack of elected-office experience. The people really took him the way he was.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Franklin D. Roosevelt - "You've Got A Friend In Me"

“You’ve Got A Friend In Me” - Randy Newman

Two reasons for this song:

1. FDR cared about helping the American people and being a friend to them in their time of need (World War II).

2. Everyone loves this song. Everyone loves FDR.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Harry S. Truman - "War"

“War” - Edwin Starr

Truman was president through years of war and probably could have listened to this song before authorizing the use of atomic weapons against Japan.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Dwight D. Eisenhower - "E.T."

“E.T.” - Katy Perry

Eisenhower authorized the establishment of NASA. What did he hope to gain from this? Ostensibly superiority over the Russians, but he probably also wanted to see if there were any extraterrestrials out there.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

John F. Kennedy - "So Nice So Smart"


“So Nice So Smart” - Kimya Dawson

Nothing gold can stay. As Dawson sings, “You’re so nice and you’re so smart. You’re such a good friend I had to break your heart.” Kennedy’s assassination broke millions of hearts when it stole away a nice and smart (and, let’s face it, good-looking) president.

Lyndon B. Johnson - "Birthday"

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

“Birthday” - Selena Gomez

Johnson was known for his abrasive and domineering personality, but he surely had insecurities just like the rest of us — he certainly felt insecure about escalating the Vietnam War. Johnson probably would have used Gomez’s song to pump himself up in the morning, along with his daily affirmations.

Richard Nixon - "Lips Are Movin"

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

“Lips Are Movin” - Meghan Trainor

I know I seem like a Meghan Trainor superfan, but it turns out that her hits overlap well with the historically strong personalities of our presidents.

This song should have played across the nation as Nixon resigned. “I know you lie ‘cause your lips are moving.”

Gerald Ford - "You're Not Sorry"

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

“You’re Not Sorry” - Taylor Swift

Ford gave his predecessor Nixon a pardon for… well, everything. But I like to think that Ford knew Nixon wasn’t sorry about Watergate. Even while he was pardoning him, Ford was thinking Swift-esque thoughts.

Jimmy Carter - "Peace and Love"

Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images

“Peace and Love” - Fountains of Wayne

Carter is a big softie and pacifist. He’s even won a Nobel Peace Prize. What else describes Carter but peace and love?

Ronald Reagan - "Gold Guns Girls"

Getty Images/Getty Images News/Getty Images

“Gold Guns Girls” - Metric

This song goes hard, and so did Reagan. Emily Haines asks, “Is it ever gonna be enough?” It never was for Reagan — he always kept pushing.

George H. W. Bush - "Father and Son"


“Father and Son” - Cat Stevens

Many people know this man chiefly as the dad of a later president. However, he was also a president.

Bill Clinton - "Two Is Better Than One"

Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images

“Two Is Better Than One” - Boys Like Girls

He already had Hillary, but Bill decided to take on another love interest. Luckily, Hillary forgave him for his transgressions — but for a while there, Bill Clinton thought two was better than one.

George W. Bush - "Wish I Could Forget"

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“Wish I Could Forget” - The Weepies

“You were something else, I will admit. I remember what you told me. I only wish I could forget.”

Barack Obama - "Feelin Myself"

Darren Hauck/Getty Images News/Getty Images

“Feelin Myself” - Nicki Minaj ft. Beyoncé

“Never left but I’m back at it, and I’m feelin’ myself, jack rabbit. Feelin’ myself, back off.”