The Washington Post

‘Forward’ is a campaign song to forget

Natasha Bedingfield is one of the artists featured in “Forward,” the new Barack Obama-boosting music video intended to get out the vote. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Syracuse University)

No. Please. Not again.

From the producer who brought us Will.I.Am’s “Yes We Can,” comes “Forward,” a schlocky new Barack Obama-boosting music video intended to get out the vote. The song features R&B singer Ne-Yo, Goo Goo Dolls frontman Johnny Rzeznik, jazz maestro Herbie Hancock, sibling folk act Delta Rae and British pop singer Natasha Bedingfield.

Remember “Yes We Can”? No, you can’t? Understandable. The human brain has an amazing ability to repress painful memories.

It was the 2008 Obama-campaign-slogan-turned-viral-music-video sung by Will.I.Am, frontman of the Black Eyed Peas, and produced by Fred Goldring, the same guy behind the “Forward” clip. Goldring’s latest piece of agitprop has no affiliation with the Obama campaign or any political action committees. Also, it is wretched.

And what a crummy way to close out this melodic election cycle. Obama sang Al Green at the Apollo and dropped a campaign playlist on Spotify. Mitt Romney crooned “America the Beautiful” while Paul Ryan bragged about the AC/DC riffs on his iPod. This week, Bruce Springsteen toured purple states in support of the incumbent while a Romney rally in Ohio featured a sweaty performance from . . . Meat Loaf.

I’ll still take damp Meat Loaf over “Forward.” The song has all the charm of flat soda, blending stumpy applause lines and Hallmark haiku into something resembling lyrics. Undecideds, sing along: “Forward, building everyday/Forward, yeah, we’re on our way/Forward, let ’em hear you say/We’ll move this country forward.”

Instead of sending you off to your local polling station, “Forward” will flash you back to your most recent root canal — its numbing melodies are worthy of no place other than the dentist’s office. Sit still, America. This will all be over soon.

But lest we forget, “Yes We Can” arrived on Feb. 2, 2008, while Obama was still scrambling to win delegates in the primaries. That means we lived with “Yes We Can” for nine purgatorial months.

At least “Forward” will be merciful. It only has 11 days to make its case for four more years.

Chris Richards is The Washington Post's pop music critic. He has recently written about the best recordings and lyrics of 2015.
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