Philadelphia citizens and hip-hops fans got a gift over the weekend when Mayor Michael Nutter joined The Roots onstage at the Philly Fourth of July Jam to perform the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight." His performance was flawless and he ended the performance by dropping the microphone and exiting the stage. It was, truly, one of the best musical performances from a politician that we've ever seen, but mayors-on-the-mic is all the rage recently, perhaps inspired by Barack Obama and his many soulful appearances. Here's seven other city heads that have stood in the spotlight...willingly or otherwise.
Carl Zeidler, Milwaukee
Carl Zeidler may not be a contemporary character, but he certainly deserves a showcase for his identity as "The Singing Mayor." He was noted for singing at nearly every event he attended, with "God Bless America" being his song-of-choice. It was all publicity, of course, but his role in the current showboating election culture is iconic. His campaign was led by Robert Bloch (better known as the author of Psycho), who invented the famous "balloon drop" that is seen so often now. The flashy campaign allowed Zeidler to overtake six-time winner Daniel Hoan at the young age of 32. His legend only increases: World War II broke out two years into his first term and he opted to enter the navy, and reportedly asked for the "most dangerous" job possible, eventually leading a gun battery. His ship was sunk off the coast of South Africa two years later, leaving nothing but the legend.
Bill de Blasio, New York City
Bill de Blasio, the most prominent mayor in the United States at the moment, took to television during 2014 and sang Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." Wait, what? Why is the mayor of New York singing about Los Angeles, the anti-New York? De Blasio and L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti had made a bet before the Stanley Cup that if the West Coast Kings beat the East Coast Rangers, then de Blasio would sing the Newman tune (if the Rangers won, Garcetti would sing Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York"). Those on the Pacific didn't take it easy on the New Yorker, making him wear an "I (heart) L.A." shirt while halfheartedly performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Naheed Nenshi, Calgary
Hockey is one of the most violent sports imaginable and fans are just as vicious off the ice. Another mayoral bet was made when Naheed Nenshi, mayor of Calgary and hardcore Flames fan, made a singing bet with Tom Tait, mayor of Anaheim (home of the Mighty Ducks). Once again, the Los Angeles-area representative came out on top. The bet was originally city-centric again: Tait was to sing Gordon Lightfoot's "Alberta Bound" and Nenshi was to sing "California Dreamin'" by The Mamas and The Papas. However, a staffer decided that "Let It Go" would be more enjoyable...without thinking about how tough the song is to replicate (and Nenshi's admitted nervousness). He cheated a tad and brought in a local a cappella group to help him out.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore
Don't think that hockey fans are the only ones who make musical bets on their teams. The 2014 MLB playoffs also resulted in several intercity showdowns. The first loser was Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who was forced to sing Lorde's "Royals" after her hometown Orioles fell to the Kansas City Royals during the American League Championship. She cheated as well, singing background with a group of talented Baltimore youth from the Baltimore School for The Arts. More painful for the mayor must have been the other stipulation, where she was forced to rename the city's famous crab cakes "Royal blue crab cakes" until the World Series was over. We couldn't find what Kansas City mayor Sly James had to sing but...WAIT A MINUTE. How is a dude named Sly James not singing in this list?
Sly James, Kansas City
Oh thank God. James must've been feeling good after his Royals got past the Orioles, so he extended the bet to San Francisco mayor Ed Lee. The latter's Giants won the World Series however, so this time James was the one singing. He withheld paying up until he was in San Francisco for the U.S. Conference of Mayors just a few weeks ago, but he made his performance one that counted. He appeared at the Cecil Williams Glide Memorial Church to sing "Amazing Grace," a performance that all too relevant as he also took time to discuss the Charleston tragedy that had occurred just the week before.
Ivy Taylor, San Antonio
Most of the performers included on this list have had some sort of reason for taking up the microphone. Okay, so most of them were forced to as public-shaming after losing a bet. Some of them apparently just want to have fun. Such was the case with Ivy Taylor, the mayor of San Antonio. She still required a runoff election but she won the first round, and apparently she wanted to celebrate with LL Cool J. She posted a video on her Facebook page, where she sang along with the emcee's "Around The Way Girl" and dancing around the office. We're sure being a mayor is a stressful job, and we support karaoke as a method of letting off steam.
Park Won-soon, Seoul
South Korea's flashy K-Pop scene is rapidly gaining attention in the United States, but Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon had something much more oddest when he performed earlier this year. He appeared at the Silver Theater wearing an old school uniform and carrying an acoustic guitar, upon which he played and sang "Daejeon Blues," a Korean standard that gained popularity during the '60s. The reason for the song choice probably had to do with his audience: His appearance was tied to the theater's millionth customer...and the Silver was opened with the intention of offering cinema to senior citizens. Perhaps if he celebrates something catering to a younger audience, Park will bust out some Big Bang.