If you never expected singer-actor Keke Palmer, writer-producer Finneas and the Broadway songwriting team of Pasek and Paul to ever show up in the same collaborative space, you would not have been alone in that. But there’s a reason that, in a season full of earnest songs being penned either as campaign or get-out-the-vote songs, Palmer’s newly released “Actually Vote” has a big leg up on the others in terms of edginess, if not catchiness.
“Dear Evan Hanson” creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul brought their Broadway-honed knack for getting a laugh out of a rhyme to the track, which they co-wrote with Finneas (of Billie Eilish fame) and Kaleena Zanders. And while most pro-voting anthems of late have been officially nonpartisan, the zingers in Pasek and Paul’s lyrics makes it clear who the team is saying not to vote for, at least.
Sings Palmer in the song’s bridge:
We need Florida, Ohio and all of Arizona
Or we’re stuck with the guy who says bleach cures corona
Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania [pronounced as Penn-sill-VAHN-ee-ah]
Come on, kids, we’re gonna free Melania
The song also rhymes “that clown politician runnin’ his mouth on my damn television” with “free college tuition,” as part of a brief recitation of causes. For the most part, the song is otherwise not explicitly partisan, although Palmer is definitely standing toward the Democratic side of the aisle when she issues her direst warning: “Does this look like 2016? You ain’t stayin’ at home.”
“Actually Vote” deals in a fair amount of millennial humor, as in lines like “Young people linin’ up around the block… / If you just take a day and get your ass off TikTok.”
The video has Palmer dancing around a rural farmland area while dancing her way to a mailbox to drop off her ballot. (It’s been amended with a warning that it’s too late for viewers to vote by mail.) Making cameos as she interacts with figures on her smartphone are Julianne Moore (who gets to lip-synch the “clown” line), Bella Thorne, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Illana Glazer.
Among those praising the video on social media was the virulently Never-Trumper Republican group the Lincoln Project, which said, “Watch, retweet and then vote.”
Tweeted Pasek, “When I was younger, ‘caring’ about things and liking to sing made you very uncool. These days, giving a s— about the world and musical theater is somehow cool?! THANKS YOUNG PEOPLE! Let’s put them together and get off our couches, asses, the fence and the phone and actually vote.”
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