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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 26, 2006

iPod might grab the swing vote

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

If they say they're listening to "Hawaii '78," they better not be taking developer money.

A recent piece on the CBS.com blog exposed the softball interview question of this election year: "So what's playing on your iPod?"

The piece by Brian Montopoli describes the grand opportunity this seemingly innocuous "getting to know you" query provides candidates. By huddling with advisers and carefully preparing a short list of personal "anthems" to "divulge," politicians can give the impression of a personality, a credo, a kind of hipness.

They're all listening to Aretha and Springsteen.

So on the local level, the equivalent would be Braddah Iz, right?

In truth, if a politician actually owns an iPod and has figured out how to load songs onto it, they should get credit for being savvy enough to operate a device a bit more sophisticated than an 8-track.

For the uninitiated and there are lots of people out there who can't let go of their "Best of Fleetwood Mac" cassette an iPod is a music player the size of the slice of Spam on musubi. Because it's so small, you can carry it everywhere and use it to tune out the yakety yak at work, pass the time while waiting for your kid, whatever. The music on your iPod is an extremely personal thing (only middle school kids walking home share their iPods, carrying one between two students, each with one of the ear buds), so admitting to what you listen to is something of a confession. This is who I really am when nobody is watching.

So if you're trying to cultivate an air of good taste and respect for traditional values, you might mention how Aunty Genoa sings in your ear while you walk your dog.

If you're running for Ed Case's seat and who isn't running for Ed Case's seat? you probably want to pick stuff from that "homesick" category. You know, all the songs that talk about being far away but having Hawai'i still in your heart. "Honolulu City Lights" and Patrick Downes' "Flying" are the gold standards here.

For an OHA race, "E Ala E," "Waimanalo Blues" and "Paradise Lost" from Sudden Rush might be the winning answers. Actually, anybody who has Sudden Rush on their iPod gets instant credibility points. That group has cultivated the cultural weight of Tupac Shakur, NWA and Grandmaster Flash.

A politician would probably be wise to avoid mentioning any in the category of "thirsty songs," as Sam Kapu Jr. so aptly calls those beloved garage party songs.

So if a candidate claims to be listening to "Hawai'i Aloha," quiz 'em. Oh yeah? Then try sing the second verse. Ha!

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.