If the idea behind a campaign song is to get your candidate elected, then the one that started it all was a flop.

"The first song that was probably used, initially, as a campaign song seems to be a song 'Adams and Liberty' used by John Adams," explained Wisconsin-Eau Claire politics professor Eric Kasper, co-author of “Don’t Stop Thinking about the Music."

Set to the tune of an 18th century drinking song that would later also provide the melody for 'The Star Spangled Banner,' 'Adams and Liberty' included nine verses of florid lyrics by fellow Bay Stater Robert Treat Paine.  

Let Fame to the world sound America's voice; 
        No intrigues can her sons from their government sever; 
    Her pride is her Adams; Her laws are his choice, 
        And shall flourish, till Liberty slumbers for ever.

The tune might not have earned our second president reelection, but the concept of the campaign song was a winner, with follow-ups like 'For Jefferson and Liberty,' 'Huzzah for Madison, Huzzah' and 'Monroe is the Man.' But in 1840, it took center stage like never before with the wildly successful 'Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.'

Through the 1830s voting began to be extended not just to property owners, but all white men. And “Old Tippecanoe” William Henry Harrison and his VP John Tyler found a way of reaching the new, often uneducated voting masses.

"Distributing handbills with information written on them isn’t going to be as effective a technique at getting your message out as a song," said Kasper.

The lyrics were anything but high-minded, and even went on the attack against opponent Martin Van Buren, who was derided in the chorus as “little Van.” 

"And with them we’ll beat little Van, Van, Van, Van. Oh, he’s a used up man. And with them we'll beat little Van."

In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt was the first to hitch his hopes to an already popular song with lyrics. Given his former role as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, some in Roosevelt's campaign lobbied for Anchors Away, but in the end they settled on 'Happy Days Are Here Again,' a tune that would become synonymous with both Roosevelt and the Democratic Party for years to come.

Truman followed FDR’s lead, leveraging the Broadway ditty 'I’m Just Wild About Harry.' But in 1952, Dwight Eisenhower tried a new approach, inspired by the rise of TV and the successful commercials being pumped out of Madison Avenue:  A completely original campaign jingle.

"You also start to see not existing pop songs being taken line for line, but modified a little bit by the 1960s," said Kasper.

Frank Sinatra recorded a version of his hit 'High Hopes' for JFK.

And Carol Channing reworked 'Hello Dolly' for LBJ.

The 1970s were a mixed bag. Some campaigns penned original tunes and other used popular songs. In 1972, George McGovern took a chance on a ballad, Simon and Garfunkel’s 'Bridge Over Troubled Water.' And Richard Nixon countered with 'Nixon Now.'

By the 1980s and 90s, like it is today, campaigns were almost exclusively using recorded versions of popular, contemporary songs. And with that has come the rise of pushback from artists themselves.

"All these events are recorded," said Kasper. "They end up on a national cable news network or the internet. It’s a lot easier, then, for an artist to find out ‘hey, they played my song and I don’t like that candidate. I’m going to complain about it.'"

The list of artists who have penned open letters, taken legal action or simply asked campaigns to stop using their music is long and distinguished. Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Neil Young and Heart to name just a few. Usually campaigns comply, but not always, which – in some cases – is their right.

"They don’t have to personally seek consent from the artist in order to have the legal right to play the song when it comes to copyright law," said Kasper. "

Still Kasper says it’s best when you get buy-in from the artist, like in the case of what he calls two of the most successful campaign songs of all time: Ronald Reagan’s use of Lee Greenwood’s 'God Bless the USA' in 1984 and Bill Clinton’s choice of Fleetwood Mac’s 'Don’t Stop' in 1992.

"It resonated in particular with Baby Boomers, a class of voters that the Clinton campaign was trying to appeal to very strongly," said Kasper. 

The most recent innovation in campaign music came courtesy of the digital music revolution. In 2012 President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both released Spotify playlists. Clinton’s campaign has done the same this year and the Washington Post has compiled one from the music being used at Trump’s campaign rallies.  

"On a Spotify playlist you can have, you know, 15, 20, 25 songs on there, each one of them trying to appeal to a different demographic group," said Kasper.

In the end, Kasper says – just like with yard signs and talk show appearances – there’s no real hard data that suggest whether these campaign songs really make a difference. But when done right, he says, it’s a way to connect with voters, whip up enthusiasm and even make an important point.

"Music has such an emotional appeal, or at least it potentially can, if it’s done effectively the song can package a campaign message into this bite sized little morsel from a catchy tune," he said.

No matter their musical taste, there is one thing that all of these candidates – past present and future – do have in common: The hope that their campaign song is simply a placeholder. After all, the job they seek not only comes with a car, a plane, and some pretty nice accommodations - but its own built-in theme tune, too.