Clinton Holds Campaign-Theme Contest

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is holding an online contest to pick a theme song for her campaign. This tactic is generating a lot of buzz around her, not to mention quite a few hits to her Web site. But hitting the right note is not all fun and videos.

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ALEX COHEN, host:

Okay. Of course Senator Hillary Clinton, unlike Fred Thompson, has already officially entered the race. She's already onto the next important step - that's announcing her official presidential campaign song this week. Okay, not exactly breaking news.

BRAND: But Clinton's use of an online contest to choose that song has generated a lot of attention. And as NPR's Robert Smith reports, it shows how campaigns that give up a little control can reap big rewards.

ROBERT SMITH: Sure, it's a stunt - a very successful stunt. Clinton's video on YouTube calling for the Internet to choose her campaign song has been viewed a half million times. That makes her the most watched candidate on the Web. And her follow-up video also breaks new ground for her. It's self-deprecating and kind of funny.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): I'm so gratified that all of you thought this was such a wonderful idea.

Unidentified Man #1: This is ridiculous.

Unidentified Man #2: Insulting.

Unidentified Man #3: Stupid.

Unidentified Man #4: Disappointing.

Unidentified Man #5: Are you freaking kidding me?

Sen. CLINTON: So keep voting at HillaryClinton.com

SMITH: She almost dares us to be snarky, which is a good thing since the actual finalists for Clinton campaign song are less than inspired. The first one on the list could be viewed as a harmless pop song or an explanation of her shifting views on the Iraq war.

(Soundbite of song, "Suddenly I See")

Ms. KT TUNSTALL (Singer): (Singing) Suddenly I see this is what I want to be. Suddenly I see why hell it means so much to me.

SMITH: And is putting Shania Twain on the list a nod to the South or a window into a red state strategy?

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. SHANIA TWAIN (Singer): (Singing) From Utah to Texas, Minnesota, Mississippi too, or Nevada, no matter where you live - this buzz is for you.

SMITH: Also on the list are a lot of songs that a male candidate couldn't really get away with.

(Soundbite of song, "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic")

STING (Lead Singer, The Police): (Singing) Every little thing she does is magic. Everything she do just turn me on. Even though my life before was tragic, now I know my love for her goes on.

SMITH: Yeah. Do you really want a president that turns you on? See, that's the thing about a campaign song. It can either set the perfect tone for the candidate - think "Happy Days Are Here Again" for FDR - or Bill Clinton's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" - or it can be a massive embarrassment.

Remember when Bob Dole picked "Soul Man" and then changed the lyrics to: I'm a Dole man, ta ta ta ta ta ta? Turning to the Internet makes the process even more of a gamble, allowing people to suggest less than flattering songs.

Shelby(ph) in Atlanta submitted a video response to Clinton on YouTube.

(Soundbite of YouTube video)

SHELBY: What else is good for a sexy campaign?

(Soundbite of song, "Super Freak")

Mr. RICK JAMES (Singer): (Singing) She's a super freak, super freak.

SHELBY: Ah, not so much.

(Soundbite of song)

SHELBY: Nah, I don't think you really fill that one out either.

(Soundbite of song, "Cold As Ice")

FOREIGNER (Rock Band): (Singing) You're as cold as ice...

SHELBY: Damn, why is it so many of the old school hits really conjure up that negative image that people had of you in the past?

SMITH: But for every slam, there are actual sincere people on the Internet singing their hearts out for Clinton.

Unidentified Man #6: (Singing) Be all that you can be, Hillary Clinton, because we need you in the White House.

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in.

Unidentified Man #7: Clinton's in the White House, yo, maybe it's fate.

Unidentified Man #8: Resistance is futile.

SMITH: Hillary in '08. Whatever song they pick, the Clinton campaign seems to have figured out the fundamental rule of Internet fame - any buzz is good buzz. And in the end, every candidate for president dances to the beat of the same song.

(Soundbite of song "You're So Vein")

Ms. CARLY SIMON (Singer): (Singing) You're so vein. You probably think this song is about you. You're so vein. I'll bet you think this song is about you, don't you, don't you, don't you?

SMITH: Robert Smith, NPR News, Philadelphia.

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