Nina Simone brings soulful optimism to Biden ad asking citizens to vote for respect, honor, decency

Spot that ran during Billboard Music Awards features singer's cover of 'New World Coming'

Published On
Oct 15, 2020

Editor's Pick

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has a new, forward-looking ad that draws a stark—but unspoken—contrast between what the country could be and what it looks like now.

Backed by Nina Simone's soulful rendition of “New World Coming,” the spot first ran on broadcast during the Billboard Music Awards on Wednesday night. At first, it appears as a typical "Get Out the Vote" ad, formed around a series of calls to action all beginning with a single word: Vote.

But as the spot runs through a series of reasons to head to the polls, the implicit criticism becomes clear. “Vote for Honor” cues a clip of John McCain and Biden together. Both were pilloried by Trump on the campaign trail, despite McCain’s death two years ago. “Vote for The Future” is set against a young Black girl marching with a mask and her fist in the air, symbols of this summer’s discontent. 

“Vote for Equality” leads shots of marriage equality, the Women’s March and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, conjuring images of the current confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, the judicial opposite of Ginsburg and Trump’s choice to succeed the recently deceased justice on the Supreme Court.

“Choice,” “Justice” and “The Planet” get their turns, backed by images of protests and raging wildfires. And when “Vote for Truth” flashes across the screen, all that is displayed is an empty presidential podium.

Throughout, Simone's husky voice imparts hopeful sentiment to the spot's message as it intertwines with Biden's words from the campaign trail: "There's a new world comin' and it's just around the bend. There's a brand new mornin' that belongs to you and me."

“With less than three weeks to go until the election, our campaign is laser-focused on reaching voters where they are," said Daniel Maughan, executive producer at Biden for President, in a statement. "The Billboard Music Awards, one of the few premier television events left before the election, provides a unique opportunity to reach a large number of viewers at once. This ad, which features vocals from the late Nina Simone, outlines clearly the stakes in the coming election—and reminds viewers that with their vote, they can alter the trajectory of our country for the better."