White House Rock: The Top 5 Presidential Performances


We’re always up for scoring a hot concert ticket, but we regret to inform you that we are not on the list for tonight’s most exclusive VIP-only show. In honor of Jewish American Heritage month, piano phenom Regina Spektor will perform tonight at the White House for the Obamas. Though it has a long tradition of hosting musicians, the president’s pad has historically been booked with classical instrumentalists and Broadway singers. Yet over the past few decades (minus those eight years of George W. Bush, who was never terribly popular among musicians), more pop and rock acts have graced the nation’s top stage, including current tween sensations Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers. After the jump, check out our five favorite performances from the Clinton and Obama administrations.

1. Bob Dylan — “The Times They Are a-Changin'”

Back in February The White House hosted a “Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement,” and headlining the bill was none other than folk legend and Obama cheerleade Bob Dylan. In his weathered, voice he rasped a delightfully heartfelt version of “The Times They Are a-Changin.'”

2. Stevie Wonder — “You Can Feel It All Over”

In December, 2009, as part of the In Performance at The White House series, founded by President Carter in 1978, Wonder performed in the mansion’s famed East Room. The energetic performance all but demands dancing: Check out the First Lady, who is clearly attempting to restrain the urge to boogie down.

3. Bill Clinton at the 40th anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival

During his first term, Clinton’s White House hosted a Tribute to the Newport Jazz Festival. The performance featured legendary artists Herbie Hancock and Rosemary Clooney, but it wasn’t until the credits rolled that they were joined on stage by a special guest. Using a borrowed saxophone, Clinton sat in with the jazz greats to blow some presidential blues. Yet the biggest surprise of all is seeing a glowing Hillary look on adoringly from the audience.

4. Aretha Franklin & Lou Rawls — “Tobacco Road”

Also during the Clinton administration, Aretha Franklin performed as part of In Performance at The White House. In a duet with blues singer Lou Rawls, Aretha’s powerhouse vocals brought some much needed soul to the White House.

5. The Foo Fighters — “Long Road To Ruin”

On July 4th of last year, the Foo Fighters let freedom rock. The band played the White House Independence Day concert after receiving an invite from President Obama and the USO. Their loud performance reminded us of our most fundamental human rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of hard rock.