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Originally published Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Election 2008

The musical score? Net win for Obama

Barack Obama is closing in on the Democratic nomination for president, but he clinched the race for the best campaign soundtrack long ago...

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Barack Obama is closing in on the Democratic nomination for president, but he clinched the race for the best campaign soundtrack long ago — no superdelegates needed.

John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton also have plenty of musical support in the first presidential election of the YouTube era. But from will.i.am's star-studded viral hit "Yes We Can" to amateur odes to Spanish-language tunes and even a Jamaican reggae tribute, Obama is the leader in what observers are calling a new form of political campaigning.

"Songs about candidates have really taken off," says Steve Grove, head of YouTube.com's news and politics division. "They've found a new way to support their candidates. ... It stretches from regular average voters all the way up to somebody like will.i.am in terms of being kind of like a new, broader trend in political video."

Annie Palovcik is one of those regular people. She penned the prideful folk tune "Illinois Boy" for Obama when he first came to national prominence a few years back — then put it on the Web when Obama became a serious presidential contender this year.

"The concepts of his character and the place of Illinois filtered through my mind into this allegorical country song," said Palovcik, a songwriter and manager of two musicians.

"He is energizing those around him, daring them to look for a new way to dream," she says.

Not that Obama has a lock on musical inspiration. McCain has had songs penned for him, such as "Lead the Way" by a lawyer named Judd Kessler.

Clinton has inspired numerous tuneful tributes — no less than Sir Elton John gave her a benefit concert in April — and "Stuck on Huck" was recorded for Mike Huckabee. Even Republican longshot Ron Paul had a song about him that got 60,000 views on YouTube.

Obama has strong support among young people, which may explain some of his Internet music presence.

While Grove says there's no specific statistical data to prove it, just on YouTube alone "it seems that [Obama] has really garnered a lot of songs. I think the early success of the Obama girl music video [the song by a scantily clad woman that became a national sensation last year] probably had something to do with that."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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