Solid (As Barack): Obama brings Ashford & Simpson new hope

Illustration by Jillian Tamaki

When Americans gave Barack Obama a solid election win last November, very few of them could have anticipated one bizarre by-product of their decision – the return of pop duo Ashford & Simpson.

Back in 1984, the pair notched their biggest hit with Solid (As A Rock), a tribute to middle-aged fidelity that featured an irresistibly catchy chorus and a strident claim that their love was “still hot-hot-hot-hot-hot-hot-hot-hot."

Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson haven’t been on the charts since then, but they’ve been peddling their R&B wares on the casino/state fair circuit. At a Los Angeles gig last August, they pointed the microphone toward the audience for the standard singalong during their big hit. The crowd started singing “Solid as Barack” instead of “Solid as a rock” – an appealing if obvious pun.

Then, earlier this year, Saturday Night Live chipped in with a full-on parody of the song, Solid (As Barack), featuring Fred Armisen as Barack and Maya Rudolph as Michelle Obama.

Refusing to look a gift horse in the mouth, Ashford & Simpson have rush-released their own version of Solid (As Barack), just in time for the inauguration. The tune is identical to the original song, and the new lyrics are decidedly non-satirical (I think):

“And for love's sake, he decided to make a promise to us all / And when he wrote The Audacity of Hope/ we could make a change. Here's for a higher plane / He'll build it up, and build it up, and build it up/ And now we're solid, solid as Barack / A new day dawning, the future looks hot-hot-hot-hot-hot-hot-hot-hot!”

Who thought we’d ever see the title of Obama’s NY Times bestseller name-checked in a tune by Ashford & Simpson?

Take a listen to the song here:

Hopefully this won't open the floodgates for the imminent release of topical tunes like Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Barack, the Clash’s new version of Barack the Casbah or the B-52s' Barack Lobster.

--Greig Dymond