Politics

The pandemic has changed the soundtrack of this election campaign

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of campaigning in this federal election, including reducing most campaign songs to a simple instrumental.

Only the Bloc Québécois has chosen an official campaign song with vocals

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole arrives to speak at a rally in Hamilton on Aug. 25.

25 days ago
0:40
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole arrives to speak at a rally in Hamilton on Aug. 25. 0:40

The campaign song is as important to an election event as the leader's stump speech.

Played by staff at high volume when the leader enters or exits the room, it blares out over and over and over again as the leader greets supporters and poses for photos.

In elections before the COVID-19 pandemic, these large rallies — with a pumped-up crowd, usually as big as can be managed — act as energizing events for campaign volunteers and serve as a backdrop for the TV cameras.

But today, big indoor rallies with people packed closely together aren't really possible. The pandemic continues to change how parties run an election, including eliminating most of those crowds.

Similarly, the pandemic has hit the tradition of the campaign song hard — in fact, it's just an instrumental.

CBC’s Chris Rands listens back to the tunes that soundtracked leaders’ campaigns last time around and explains how campaign songs are sounding a little different in 2021. 2:27

Ideally, a campaign song has to be quite long — no three-minute radio hits needed here —  to allow the leader to move slowly through the room, shaking hands, posing for selfies, exchanging short greetings.

The lyrics are preferably inspirational or reflect the campaign's key messages.

The song can also be used to drown out the the sounds of any potential hecklers, who can't compete with a large sound system.

Campaign songs going instrumental

This go-round, the Liberals appeared to be testing songs during the first two weeks of the campaign.

An instrumental track called Shine All Around by the French-American producer Gyom was played after a Liberal rally in Cornwall, P.E.I., on Aug. 22.

The campaign played the song for more than 12 minutes straight as Justin Trudeau walked around to greet and chat with his supporters.

But the party told CBC News Friday that there will be no campaign song for the 2021 campaign.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau addresses a crowd of supporters in Cornwall, P.E.I., on Aug. 22. (CBC)

The Conservatives are using a guitar-heavy instrumental that is more of a brief introduction than a whole song.

Leader Erin O'Toole appears to enjoy it as he walks up to the podium at rallies and at events in his party's Ottawa media studio, where they have been holding virtual town halls.

One party official speaking on background described it as just a "stock music track" but couldn't offer any more details.

CBC News tried to identify the track using Siri and the Shazam app, but nothing came up.

The NDP and the Greens, like the Liberals, have decided to forgo a campaign song altogether.

But the Bloc Québécois is sticking with tradition. The party has chosen a new song by Quebec musician Claude Pineault for this election.

Featuring a strong drum introduction followed by guitars, the song's lyrics are composed of just one word: Québécois. That's the party's chosen campaign slogan this year.

Most parties breaking with tradition

The lack of emphasis on the campaign songs by most parties stands in contrast to previous elections.

Back in the 2019 election, the Liberals chose the Canadian indie band The Strumbellas and their track One Hand Up as an official tune.

The French lyrics recorded by the band caused some confusion for francophone listeners and later needed to be rerecorded.

WATCH | Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau ends a rally in 2019:

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau leaves a rally in Peterborough, Ont. on Sept. 29, 2019.

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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau leaves a rally in Peterborough, Ont. on Sept. 29, 2019. 1:19

In 2019, Andrew Scheer's Conservatives chose award-winning songwriter and producer Jim Vallance for their campaign song Get Ahead. Vallance is best known for his work with Bryan Adams.

The song features a strong rock track with lyrics that match the campaign's slogan It's Time For You To Get Ahead. This song also featured a bilingual version.

WATCH | The Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer enters an event in 2019:

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer arrives at the Solstice Wine Bar in Mississauga, Ont., on Oct. 8, 2019.

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer arrives at the Solstice Wine Bar in Mississauga, Ont., on Oct. 8, 2019. 1:22

In 2019 NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh chose a track by the Trinidadian soca music star Bunji Garlin.

His song Differentology (Ready Fi Di Road) was played at NDP rallies with Singh leading the crowd in jumping and singing along to the song's chorus.

WATCH | Jagmeet Singh enters a rally in 2019 to the party's then campaign song:

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh arrives at a rally in the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park on Oct. 15, 2019.

25 days ago
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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh arrives at a rally in the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park on Oct. 15, 2019. 0:42

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story reported the Liberal party used The Veldt by Deadmau5 as its official song in 2015. In fact, that song was Justin Trudeau's leadership track in 2013.
    Aug 29, 2021 8:51 AM ET

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