Sarah Buitendach Editor: Wanted and FM lifestyle
Barack Obama, US. Picture: REUTERS
Barack Obama, US. Picture: REUTERS

Former US president Barack Obama’s hugely anticipated memoir A Promised Land was released on Tuesday.

As book launches go, it’s an enormous one – and perfectly timed given that so many eyes have been on the political state of the States in the past few weeks. It’s actually only book one of Obama’s reflections on his time spent in the Oval Office, and though it has a follow-up, is already causing hysteria among book sellers the world over.

This is because, as this New York Times article notes, they’ve pinned their hopes on mega sales of it after a Covid-besmirched year. And I do mean pinned. The article cites the following stats: “Mr. Obama’s publisher, Crown, is printing 3.4-million copies of A Promised Land for the US and Canadian market, and another 2.5-million for international readers. The book, which runs to 768 pages, is being released simultaneously around the world, and will be available in 19 languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Finnish, Romanian and Chinese (translations into six other languages are still under way).”

That is a lot of books. Clearly every single one of us will be getting it in our Christmas stockings this year.

Obama’s words of introspection and White House gossip will no doubt be tops, but 768 is a lot of pages. That kind of long-term relationship seems a sizable commitment right now. The playlist that No 44 released to coincide with his new tome? It’s an entirely different matter altogether.

Perhaps you were unaware that for years now, the former prez has been releasing reading lists and playlists. For his 2012 re-election campaign, he and his team did a huge song selection. Then he picked tunes for his inauguration. His summer song compilations – different ones for day and night – are always a hot hit. Here’s the 2020 one. He even did a track choice with the express purpose of providing motivation while exercising. The music is always incredibly eclectic and ranges from cool kid Billie Eilish’s beats to crooning from icons like Billie Holiday.

His latest roundup of picks, songs he listened to as president, was dropped on Instagram on Monday. It includes everyone from Beyoncé to John Coltrane and Fleetwood Mac, and speaks to how he used music during his two terms as Potus. Of it he said: “Music has always played an important role throughout my life — and that was especially true during my presidency. While reviewing my notes ahead of debates, I’d listen to Jay-Z’s My 1st Song or Frank Sinatra’s Luck Be a Lady.”

Even if you’re not a paid-up member of Team Barack, you’ve got to concede that the man is smart. His brilliant engagement with the universal language of song has added to the narrative that Obama is a normal guy. Scratch that – that he’s a damn cool guy. He might be guilty of wearing dad jeans but he’s forgiven because he’s got Childish Gambino on play.

And as if it couldn’t get any smoother, Obama can sing too. Watch this mash-up to see exactly what. And with who.

*Buitendach is the FM's Life editor and editor of Wanted magazine.

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