Leslie Odom Jr. performs Sara Bareilles' powerful election anthem
Friday radio program This American Life became the latest to debut a song about the election when they premiered “Seriously,” written by singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles from the point of view of what President Obama might be thinking about the upcoming election. Fresh off his Tony-winning run in Broadway’s Hamilton, Leslie Odom, Jr. lends his incredible vocals to the track.
Bareilles’ lyrics combined with Odom, Jr.’s voice make “Seriously” incredibly moving and poignant. The first stanza tackles Obama’s victory as president and Donald Trump’s meteoric rise: “Let’s start with hope / I threw it in the middle like a skipping stone / the ripples won, son of a gun / Some would not have thought so / But I stand here Commander in Chief / And I take that seriously / But along the way / A rogue ripple turned tidal wave / In reaction to what I tried to do / A rebirth of a nation’s hatred / red, white, and blue. Is black in there too?”
The track never calls out Donald Trump by name, but the song tells of “One man rewriting the book on bad behavior,” and refers to a “demagogue” figure.
Odom slowly builds up his performance before letting loose in the last third of the song where Bareilles delivers some her most powerful lyrics: “After all we’ve done / Every battle hard won / Every hair gone gray / In the name of this place / In a history plague / with incredible mistakes / Still I pledge my allegiance to these United divided States.”
Watch the video below. A free MP3 of the song will be available Monday, Oct. 31.
This American Life