This is what (we believe) Kristen Welker’s pre-debate playlist looked like

Here are the 12 songs we strongly believe the moderator from last night’s debate played prior to the debate. At least.

Screenshot of Kristen Welker, moderator, wearing a white shirt, navy blue sports jacket, earrings, and hair curls.
Kristen Welker moderating the final Presidential Debate of 2020. Via NBC News PR.

So, it took four different media personalities/journalists getting messy in two debates and two Presidential town halls, but the final Presidential debate for the 2020 election featured the clear choice for best moderator, Kristen Welker. I mean, it wasn’t hard to follow up the basement-low bar set by the previous debacles — just check out the stark differences in ratings between her and Fox News’ Chris Wallace on IMDb as a weirdly accurate indicator.

But all in all, Welker did manage to manage control with two veteran, commanding, much older echo chambers-I mean candidates.

Unsurprisingly, a Black woman got the job done.

A clip from last night’s Presidential debate, including when President Trump remarked to moderator Welker that “so far, I respect very much the way you handled this.”

While not much is known about Welker compared to a typical television journalist, we do know that she is a Harvard-graduate, 23-year vet in her own right. She is currently serving as the White House Correspondent for NBC News, representing MSNBC, in addition to being the Weekend Co-Anchor for the morning news show Today. She got her start in the industry as a Today intern in 1987. When she was honored at this year’s Women in Journalism Awards, Welker mentioned that a story on Black women maternity deaths was the most important she covered throughout her career.

More from The Renaissance: “Chasing Blanco Billions” — Paul K. Barnes

Kristen Welker in an introduction segment at the Today Show earlier this year.

Having also co-moderated a Democratic Presidential primary debate last year, she’s far from a stranger to questioning politicians, or — in the case of this President — being attacked by supporters of one. But even Trump mustered a compliment to her face last night. It did help that the Commission of Presidential Debates, which selected her, implemented “mute” buttons, but she still had to tame both candidates who would just go back and forth for hours over the same trivialities.

Welker was likely most poignant when Donald Trump and Joe Biden went barb-for-barb over Biden’s role in criminal justice, namely his leading role in the infamous 1994 crime bill, before they veered off topic. Welker had to repeat, several times, “I want to stay on the subject of race,” which may have helped remind the candidates that, y’know, it doesn’t look good for Presidential candidates to keep pushing off race to talk about themselves.

Regardless, she stayed on strategy and didn’t feed (as much) into Trump’s tendency to go ramble on. Her performance was critically acclaimed from pretty much everyone, and that’s saying something. I’m more weary than others to jump on stan-wagons for people doing, y’know, their job, but I wouldn’t blame those who became instant Welker fans last night.

Want to see beyond the Medium paywall? Sign up for the Renaissance Rundown, our weekly newsletter with “friend” links & other exclusives

I am sure, though, that her pre-game playlist (and I’m 99% sure she had one) was stellar. You don’t roll into a performance like that without stellar preparation, and the average Black woman that came to age in the 90s has impeccable playlist choice. Based on her performance and background, here are some songs I imagine (or hope) Welker had played on blast.

Being a Philly native, it would shock me if The Roots weren’t littered throughout Welker’s music player. What better song than this one to lead into an event with confidence?

It was a toss up for me between this and fellow mandatory-for-80s/90s-teen song “Return of the Mack”, if not both, but I think this was the safer choice of the two.

This song is appropriately strange and apocalyptic, “you may look the other way / We can try to understand / The New York Times’ effect on man…”

A stage of this magnitude always calls for some Lauryn Hill — her voice, anyway, not her time management. Welker definitely didn’t emulate that.

Following up on that, this is as real of a mainstream rap song we think Welker would admit to playing, save some 2Pac.

  • “Rhythm Of the Night”, DeBarge

Ignore the “Forget about the worries on your mind, you can leave them all behind” part…

…and the song of the same name by, eerily enough, the band Corona.

There’s a lot of head and neck movement sitting directly between and below two non-stopping forces of headaches. Hopefully Welker got some practice in, or is preparing a huge invoice for physical therapy.

“Fight the Power” doesn’t really feel appropriate in this instance, but moderators need to be able to assert themselves in these dystopic times.

At least for me, I’d prepare to relax prior to this. Welker should consider herself lucky; she didn’t have to watch this at home live on television.

Listen, I don’t have anything against Beyoncé’s version — I have to assume that if a 40-plus year old woman is listening to this song, it would be near-criminal for them to not go for the original version first. Maybe she’ll have both, though, depending on her taste.

This would be a good conclusion to the theoretical playlist. We should all remember this, beyond all else.

Okay, not really one of the choices, but aren’t we still allowed imagination?




The Renaissance — Rap and Hip Hop’s Revolutionary Publication is a digital zine dedicated to providing innovative, honest thought in regards to the future of hip hop, as a culture and a music genre. @TheRenProj everywhere.

Recommended from Medium

The Capitol Hill Attacks Revealed the Hypocrisy of “Blue Lives Matter”

Trump Tries To Explain Why He’s Letting Saudi Leader Off Scot Free

Why Take Pension Away From Career Civil Servant Andrew McCabe?

Status Report: US Democracy

Supreme Court rules Maine tuition program violates First Amendment for excluding religious schools

Local state representatives want to cancel end-of-year state testing

Thinking Outside the American Box

“societal scourge” (dehumanization awareness project)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Juwan J. Holmes

Juwan J. Holmes

Juwan Holmes is a writer and multipotentialite from Brooklyn, New York. He is the editor of The Renaissance Project.

More from Medium

Red Currant Clafoutis

The Haunt of One Yet Faintly Present: Noah Davis, Still at Home

‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ is Really Long

Jude Law in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald | Warner Bros.

Chauncey, or the Joy of Onomastics