President Frank Underwood
President Frank Underwood (spoiler) is a character that defines what it means to be a "ruthless pragmatist." He always gets his way, regardless of whether he has to patiently lie in the shadows for years on end in order to obtain it. Underwood's resolve and personal drive are characteristics we can all admire, and oftentimes I tend to forget how bad of a man he really is. That ability to cause those who have witnessed you kill reporters and colleagues in cold blood to forget why it is that they're "supposed" to hate you is what makes Frank Underwood such a fantastic character. A well rounded, two faced character capable of killing your puppy and then taking you out to dinner, President Underwood is the prime subject of a playlist of power.
1. Ride of the Valkyries - Richard Wagner (performed by Furtwangler and the Vienna Philharmonic)
The music immediately begins at an up-tempo pace, illustrating Frank Underwood’s constant sense of urgency throughout the series. There is no such thing as down time when it comes to his quest of political dominance, just as there is no room for lulls in the song. Although at times the music gradually diminishes in volume and pace, the high stress levels never leave the listener. Underwood may occasionally appear outwardly at peace, but his mind is always churning out new plans, both for long and short term gains. The stress reaches unhealthy levels, and Underwood uses coping mechanisms such as exercising on his rowing machine. One can imagine a song such as this blasting through his headphones as his mind wanders into whatever dark hole he draws up his plans from.
2. Coming Clean - Green Day
Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer of Green Day, utilized this song as a means of questioning oneself in all aspects of life, including sexuality. Frank Underwood never ceases to develop as a character and as a person, and there are instances when he even ventures into bisexuality. He is unafraid to question societal norms and wants to experience all life has to offer. The problem that arises is how the American public would react to knowing that their President is bisexual. Because of this, Underwood must keep this along with other parts of his life under wraps. "Secrets collecting dust but never forget; skeletons come to life in my closet," is a lyric that plays well into Underwood's struggle with keeping this part of his life hidden to all besides those closest to him. The song's style and tone fit in with the Alternative Rock genre, with its mashup of beats and instruments. Underwood is about as alternative as it gets when it comes to grasping power through any means necessary.
3. Real Friends - Kanye West
Real friends, how many of us?
How many of us, how many jealous? Real friends
It's not many of us, we smile at each other
But how many honest? Trust issues
Switched up the number, I can't be bothered
I cannot blame you for havin' an angle
I hate when someone texts you like, "what's up, fam, oh you good?"
You say, "I'm good" then great, the next text they ask you for somethin'
In these rap lyrics, Kanye West is describing what being friends with Frank Underwood would probably feel like. With Underwood, there is always an ulterior motive. He does not spend time with a friend or loved one for the mere sake of companionship or comradery. This is apparent even in his marriage to his wife Claire, whom he utilizes as a political tool in order to garner more support towards his presidential campaign. She is necessary in influencing both voters and congressmen of his “good intentions”. In terms of the actual musical element, the beat in the background never alters, remaining a constant even as Kanye and Ty Dolla $ign shift tones during their respective verses. Underwood's motives of securing and consolidating power never alter, even as his methods of doing so are ever-changing as he adapts to the situations and problems at hand.
4.Dark Horse - Katy Perry ft. Juicy J
As the title suggests, Katy Perry is coming at you like a dark horse. Frank Underwood's road to power was an unconventional one, especially after the former President elected to not appoint him as Secretary of State. The two instances of base drops (1:16) (2:22) signify Underwood's two final leaps towards the Presidency, first by influencing the President into making him VP, and later by causing him to be impeached. Dark Horses tend to lurk quietly until they can practically taste victory, and once they leap out from behind the shadows of the "frontrunners," it is far too late to stop them. This cunningness and presence of mind to never jump the gun is what earns Underwood the title of a dark horse candidate.
5. Only The Strong Survive - Elvis Presley
As Elvis Presley sings of what it means to be a man i.e. what it means to be strong and overcome adversity, a soft sing-song tune is played in the background along with the echoing of a woman. This is reflected in Frank Underwood overcoming any and all obstacles in his path all the while maintaining a sense of grace and outward calmness. The echoing of the woman can be interpreted as Claire, his wife and strongest supporter in his political endeavors. As much as he remains stout and resolute to everyone around him, it is only Claire that is privileged enough to witness him when he is most vulnerable. As Elvis Presley comforts a man who is "crying his eyes out" because a woman left him, Underwood is left alone, with no one to comfort him as Claire leaves him later on in the series.
6. Sociopath - Ampop
Singling out a line or two to describe Frank Underwood is an impossible task, as the entirety of the song hits home with the essence that is the President in House of Cards.
- I don't feel pain the way you do; I don't fear at all; I'm a sociopath
Often times, it seems as though Underwood is completely impervious to all forms of mental and emotional trauma. As I mentioned in the intro, he is the kind of man who can strangle your puppy and then take you out on a romantic dinner, all the while carrying the puppy's carcass in his briefcase. You would never be the wiser. He is, indeed, a sociopath.
- I'm a menace to society; Don't want your company; I'm a sociopath
His menacing qualities go without saying, and he is more than content on sitting on his throne alone. If others want to partake in his success and he allows them to, so be it. But Frank Underwood will never long for someone's company or feel lonely. He has everything he could ever want, right between his ears.
- There is nothing you can do; To change my point of view; Cause I don't care about anything
- From the very first episode of the series, he formulates his plan. From then on, nothing changed his views or goals, regardless of what or who he lost along the way. It can be argued that not caring about anything is something that can lead someone to greatness, as the unbridled focus never wavers. A great leader can not care about anything, so long as he does what is best for the greater good.
- I'm just a sociopath; I can't help it I am bad
"The best thing about human beings is that they stack so neatly" - President Frank Underwood
- I have no remorse about the past; Don't care what happens next; I'm a sociopath
He gets over his murders as quickly as he executes them, and lies so well that the audience begins to believe him, even though they witnessed his killings mere episodes prior. With regard to caring about what happens next, he absolutely does, so long as it deals directly with his own personal desires. If not, then the rest of the world can burn in hell for all he cares.
- Hurting people is my speciality; Breaking heats a part of me; I'm a sociopath, I'm a psychopath
In the path to the presidency, one is sure to both make and break countless relationships. But Underwood takes this to new heights. Whether it is breaking the heart of a reporter he selfishly used, or pushing that same reporter onto the tracks of an oncoming train to her death, he does more than hurt people. As for transitioning from a sociopath into a full blown psychopath, the latter of what he did to the reporter checks off that box too.