It’s given the world Abba, Celine Dion, the Finnish heavy metal band Lordi, a made-for-Netflix tribute musical, and inspiration for untold generations of fashion school runway shows. But with Eurovision Song Contest finally coming to America, it’s fair to ask whether its reception in the US will mirror such transatlantic successes as The Office, Rosalía and pizza, or suffer the ignominious fates of Piers Morgan, Robbie Williams and the modern welfare state.
The American Song Contest (we’re as confused as you about why it’s not called Amerivision) promises to be “the biggest live music event America has ever seen”, according to NBC, which begins airing the show on 21 March. It will substitute the US’s 50-odd states, districts and territories for Europe’s 50-odd countries and, we imagine, open up new frontiers for ways Americans can resent each other.
In the old-country version, each participating nation sends an artist to perform an original song, in an event televised before hundreds of millions. Viewers in each country then weigh in as a bloc to determine a winner. But as any Eurovision fan knows, it’s not just about the music – it’s about politics and geography, with Scandinavian nations typically voting for each other and everyone voting against the UK. (After Russia invaded Ukraine last month, Eurovision initially argued that the contest was a “non-political cultural event” before bowing to public pressure and banning Russia from the 2022 contest.)
Industry insiders – one from each of the 56 states and territories – will judge the performances. Each state will have equal voting power, no matter how big its population (not unlike the less-than-democratic US Senate). Points handed out by the judges will be combined with public votes to determine performers’ fates.
The show is sure to foster new alliances and rivalries. Will everyone hate California because it already rules the entertainment industry? Will the supposedly nice people of the midwest band together or stab each other in the back? Could a kitschy earworm save America from civil war – or be the last straw? Will Americans just ignore politics and vote for the best song?
Here’s our guide to the musical traditions and regional rivalries that we can look forward to:
Represented by: Ni/Co (pop duo).
Musical heroes: Wilson Pickett, Martha Reeves, Emmylou Harris, Nat King Cole, Hank Williams Sr, the guy who comes from Alabama with a banjo on his knee.
Potential alliances: With its wide-ranging musical history, Alabama could go in many directions. Ni/Co sings pop, but the state might tie itself to Tennessee, where Nashville is the home of country music; it could also look to Michigan, in honor of Detroit and Motown. Given local politics – not to mention geography – Tennessee seems more likely.
Sworn enemies: Florida, thanks to a passionate football rivalry between the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide and the University of Florida’s Gators.
Represented by: Jewel (folk/pop).
Musical heroes: Hobo Jim, the state’s official balladeer; Jewel.
Known for: Alaska Native folk music; Jewel’s trademark blend of confessional ballads, catchy pop beats and sudden shifts into frog voice; Sarah Palin rapping Baby Got Back.
Potential alliances: Hawaii, in a show of non-contiguous solidarity.
Sworn enemies: Hawaii, in a show of non-contiguous rivalry.
Facebook Twitter Singer and songwriter Jewel, center, will represent Alaska on The American Song Contest. Photograph: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images
Represented by: Tenelle (pop/reggae).
Musical heroes: Tenelle, Napoleon Tuiteleleapaga.
Potential alliances: Though people from American Samoa are US nationals, they can’t vote in US elections. They could team up with similarly disfranchised Americans in the other four permanently inhabited US territories.
Represented by: Las Marias (mariachi/norteñas).
Musical heroes: Alice Cooper, Jordin Sparks, Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Nicks, Jimmy Eat World.
Known for: Rock that’s sometimes pretty loud but not offensively so.
Potential alliances: Arizonans might feel a kinship with Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming, where residents are equally familiar with extremely dry conditions.
Sworn enemies: California. When the state next door boasts the world’s fifth-biggest economy, has markedly different politics, and gets way more attention than you do, you’re going to hate it.
Represented by: Kelsey Lamb (country/pop).
Musical heroes: Johnny Cash, Al Green, Glen Campbell.
Known for: Ex-governors who “rock”, including saxophonist Bill Clinton and bassist Mike Huckabee – they play music, so they must be human!
Potential alliances: Arkansas is the birthplace of Walmart, so it might find a kindred spirit in Washington state, birthplace of such culture-destroying corporations as Amazon and Starbucks.
Sworn enemies: Kansas, which has basically the same name but pronounces it completely differently.
Represented by: Sweet Taboo (pop/hip-hop/Latin/R&B).
Musical heroes: All of them, including “Weird Al” Yankovic.
Known for: Every song you like.
Potential alliances: New York, a fellow cultural powerhouse that believes itself to be its own country.
Sworn enemies: Florida, which is California for conservatives.
Represented by: Riker Lynch (rock/pop).
Musical heroes: Judy Collins, the Lumineers, John Denver, Earth, Wind and Fire.
Known for: Folk, jam bands, bluegrass, jam bands that play folkie bluegrass.
Potential alliances: California. People from Denver are essentially the same as people from the Bay Area: they work in tech, they think they’re laid back, and they performatively enjoy the outdoors. All dating profiles are required to include at least one photo in which the subject is dangling from a giant rock.
Sworn enemies: Appalachian states. You call those mountains?
Facebook Twitter Judy Collins of Colorado. Photograph: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
Represented by: Michael Bolton (soft rock).
Musical heroes: Michael Bolton, the Carpenters, John Mayer.
Known for: The dulcet tones of adult contemporary.
Potential alliances and sworn enemies: Will New England be the Scandinavia of the American Song Contest? The parallels are there: both are loosely affiliated groups of jurisdictions with lots of white progressives, peppered with rightwing crazies. It remains to be seen whether these states will lift each other up or tear each other down.
Represented by: Nitro Nitra (soul/rock).
Musical heroes: The Bad to the Bone guy.
Known for: Joe Biden.
Potential alliances: Delaware is one of five states without sales tax, along with Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon. Alliances have been founded on shakier grounds.
Sworn enemies: Despite being so small it’s barely visible, Delaware has a north-south divide that mirrors the country’s – with northern liberals, southern conservatives, different dialects and clashing ways of life. Delaware might vote against itself.
Represented by: Ale Zabala (Latin pop).
Musical heroes: Ray Charles, Pitbull, Tom Petty, Limp Bizkit, Ariana Grande, Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Known for: A broad range of music, from pop to Latin to southern rock.
Potential alliances: New York, whose residents typically fly south for the winter in a yearly migration pattern.
Sworn enemies: California, which is Florida for liberals.
Facebook Twitter Rapper Pitbull checks out his wax likeness at Madame Tussauds in Orlando, Florida. Photograph: Getty Images
Represented by: Stela Cole (pop).
Musical heroes: Outkast, Little Richard, Gucci Mane, TLC, James Brown, Otis Redding, REM.
Known for: Hip-hop in Atlanta, college rock in Athens, soul on the midnight train.
Potential alliances and sworn enemies: If recent history is any guide, the question for Georgia is not whom it will align with but whether its electoral infrastructure will survive at all. Will a few low-profile music officials be willing to stick their necks out when the runner-up calls, demanding they find a few thousand more votes?
Represented by: Jason J (alternative/reggae).
Musical heroes: Pia Mia, JD Crutch.
Potential alliances: Guam could join an alliance of US territories, where residents are US nationals or citizens but can’t vote in US elections.
Sworn enemies: Pia Mia, Guam’s biggest pop star, has an on-again/off-again BFFship with Kylie Jenner of California. Perhaps the contest will settle things once and for all.
Represented by: Bronson Varde (reggae/“Jawaiian”).
Musical heroes: Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, Jack Johnson, Nicole Scherzinger, Bruno Mars.
Potential alliances: Fellow island jurisdictions from Puerto Rico to Guam.
Sworn enemies: Rhode Island. How dare it call itself an island.
Represented by: Andrew Sheppard (rock).
Musical heroes: Josh Ritter, Built to Spill, Paul Revere and the Raiders.
Known for: Folk, rock, folk-rock.
Potential alliances: Could the potato state team up with the tomato state? See New Jersey.
Sworn enemies: California. Idahoans hate Californians.
Represented by: Justin Jesso (pop).
Musical heroes: Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, Herbie Hancock, Wilco, Jennifer Hudson, Kanye West.
Known for: Blues.
Potential alliances: Louisiana. Though you wouldn’t know it from listening to Justin Jesso, New Orleans is considered the birthplace of jazz, and Chicago, of course, has a rich jazz history of its own – it may have been the first place the term was used in print to describe music.
Sworn enemies: Illinois is apparently its own worst enemy: a 2014 survey found half the population wanted out for work- and weather-related reasons.
Facebook Twitter Chicago has a rich jazz history and may have been the first place the term was used in print to describe music. Photograph: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
Represented by: UG skywalkin (hip-hop).
Musical heroes: Cole Porter, Babyface, Axl Rose, the Jacksons.
Potential alliances: Indiana, “the crossroads of America”, has a thing for cars. (It got its nickname thanks to a key early highway intersection; it’s also, of course, home to the Indianapolis 500 race.) Perhaps it will unite with another Great Lakes state, Michigan, where so many of those cars come from.
Sworn enemies: Anyone who detests Mike Pence.
Represented by: Alisabeth Von Presley (pop/rock).
Musical heroes: The Everly Brothers, Glenn Miller, Patty Larkin, Slipknot.
Known for: Easy listening, plus Slipknot.
Potential alliances and sworn enemies: If your state can produce both the Everly Brothers and the band behind People=Shit, your leanings are unpredictable.
Represented by: Broderick Jones (pop/R&B).
Musical heroes: Melissa Etheridge, Martina McBride, Kansas, Dorothy Gale.
Potential alliances: The physical center of the contiguous US is in Kansas, which could foster an egalitarian spirit, meaning the state votes purely on musical merit.
Sworn enemies: But that won’t happen. Kansas and Missouri despise each other, with a seething college football rivalry between the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri. You’d probably hate your neighbor, too, if you had to share your biggest city with them.
Represented by: Jordan Smith (pop/contemporary Christian/gospel).
Musical heroes: Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, Chris Stapleton.
Known for: Country and bluegrass.
Potential alliances: Despite having produced Mitch McConnell, Kentucky has been dubbed “the kindest state”, so presumably it’ll vote for everyone.
Sworn enemies: Like Kansas and Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee have a bitter feud that plays out on the college football field. Don’t expect any votes for Tennessee from its northern neighbor.
Represented by: Brittany Pfantz (rock/gospel/swamp pop).
Musical heroes: Louis Armstrong, Lucinda Williams, Frank Ocean, Britney Spears, Leadbelly, Dr John, Fats Domino.
Known for: Jazz.
Potential alliances: See Illinois.
Sworn enemies: Given its thriving music scene, Louisiana might see the similarly lauded California, New York, Tennessee and Michigan as threats to be squashed.
Facebook Twitter Louisiana, which produced Frank Ocean, has a thriving music scene. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images
Represented by: King Kyote (rock/folk).
Musical heroes: Patty Griffin, Ray LaMontagne.
Known for: Rock lobsters.
Potential alliances and sworn enemies: See Connecticut.
Represented by: Sisqó (R&B/hip hop soul/pop).
Musical heroes: Billie Holiday, Tori Amos, Toni Braxton, David Byrne, Cass Elliot, Frank Zappa.
Potential alliances: Maryland could swoop in to support lonely Washington DC, which has no state of its own. Unlike much of the US, Maryland residents support statehood for the city.
Sworn enemies: Expect less friendly treatment for another neighbor, Virginia, the other state surrounding the nation’s capital. It’s the state Marylanders hate most, according to a totally unscientific but nonetheless fascinating Instagram investigation.
Represented by: Jared Lee (pop).
Musical heroes: Aerosmith, Pixies, Donna Summer, James Taylor.
Potential alliances: As home to Boston, the de facto capital of New England, Massachusetts could see plenty of interstate support.
Sworn enemies: As home to Boston, city of Red Sox and Patriots fans, Massachusetts could see plenty of interstate vitriol.
Represented by: Ada LeAnn (acoustic pop).
Musical heroes: Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, the Temptations, Madonna, Eminem, Lizzo.
Known for: Motown.
Potential alliances: See Indiana.
Sworn enemies: Michigan has a good case to make for itself as America’s popular music capital, so it might seek to sabotage fellow contenders such as California, New York, Tennessee and Louisiana. See also: Ohio.
Facebook Twitter Michigan produced such artists as Lizzo. Photograph: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for American Express
Represented by: Yam Haus (dance/pop/rock).
Musical heroes: Prince, Bob Dylan.
Known for: Rock, pop.
Potential alliances: As a state once governed by a professional wrestler, Jesse “the Body” Ventura, Minnesota might find a natural ally in California, once run by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Sworn enemies: If the “Minnesota nice” stereotype is accurate, the state will praise all its competitors and then stab them in the back.
Represented by: Keyoné Starr (soul/pop).
Musical heroes: Robert Johnson, Elvis Presley, Howlin’ Wolf, BB King, Bo Diddley.
Known for: Giving birth to the blues.
Potential alliances: The blues connection makes Illinois an obvious ally, while the state could bond with Missouri over rock’n’roll.
Sworn enemies: Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones, was born here, so it’s only natural for Mississippians to vote against California, birthplace of Luke and Leia.
Represented by: Brett Seper (rock/power pop).
Musical heroes: Chuck Berry, Scott Joplin, Charlie Parker, Sheryl Crow, Nelly.
Potential alliances: Rock’n’roll roots could link Missouri to Mississippi.
Sworn enemies: See Kansas.
Facebook Twitter Chuck Berry of Missouri. Photograph: Zuma Press/Alamy
Represented by: Jonah Prill (country).
Musical heroes: David Lynch (he does music, too!) Also, the bassist from Pearl Jam.
Known for: Film-making and bass-playing in Pearl Jam.
Potential alliances: Could join Idaho and Delaware in an alliance of states still seeking to make their mark on the music world.
Sworn enemies: California, for hogging a disproportionate share of stardom.
Represented by: Jocelyn (folk/rock/pop).
Musical heroes: Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes.
Known for: Sad indie stuff.
Potential alliances: The American Song Contest doesn’t have much to offer the indie kids – they’ll have to spend a melancholy night alone. But would they have it any other way?
Sworn enemies: Nebraska is the birthplace of Kool-Aid, so if it doesn’t hate Florida, birthplace of Gatorade, it should.
Represented by: The Crystal Method (electronic).
Musical heroes: Wayne Newton, the Killers, Jenny Lewis, Ne-Yo, Imagine Dragons, Panic! At the Disco.
Known for: Lounge lizards and nostalgia acts.
Potential alliances: As home to the UFO mysteries of Area 51, Nevada could team up with New Mexico, home to Roswell, where aliens definitely showed up in 1947.
Sworn enemies: California, in another case of neighborly jealousy.
Represented by: MARi (pop).
Musical heroes: Mandy Moore, Adam Sandler.
Known for: Actors who sing.
Potential alliances and sworn enemies: See Connecticut.
Facebook Twitter New Hampshire can tout its actors who can also sing, such as Adam Sandler. Photograph: NBC/NBCUniversal/Getty Images
Represented by: Brooke Alexx (pop).
Musical heroes: Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill, Bon Jovi, Dionne Warwick.
Known for: “They’re not booing – they’re saying Bruuuuuce.”
Potential alliances: Could the tomato state team up with the potato state? See Idaho.
Sworn enemies: According to Matt Shirley’s state-hatred study, New Jersey is the only state that “hates everyone”. Perhaps it will abstain from voting altogether.
Represented by: Khalisol (soul/hip-hop).
Musical heroes: Demi Lovato, the Shins.
Known for: New Mexico music is its own genre, influenced by Pueblo, Hispanos and country music.
Potential alliances: The real-life Smokey Bear is from New Mexico, so it may feel some solidarity with fellow wildfire-affected states across the American west.
Sworn enemies: Microsoft was founded in New Mexico, and Jeff Bezos was born there. Both ended up in Washington state. New Mexicans might be angry about the loss – on the other hand, they could be grateful for the good riddance.
Represented by: ENISA (pop/soul).
Musical heroes: Everyone not from California.
Known for: The ability to make it anywhere, given success locally.
Potential alliances: Could team up with California to create an unstoppable popular music juggernaut.
Sworn enemies: It’s not clear that New Yorkers are aware that other states exist at all.
Represented by: John Morgan (country).
Musical heroes: Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, J Cole, Ben Folds.
Potential alliances: As the birthplace of flight, North Carolina is single-handedly responsible for globalization. It should really vote for everyone.
Sworn enemies: North Carolina is also the birthplace of Pepsi, so expect a vote against Georgia, birthplace of Coke.
Facebook Twitter Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane performs circa 1962. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Represented by: Chloe Fredericks (country).
Musical heroes: Wiz Khalifa, Peggy Lee, Bobby Vee, Lawrence Welk.
Known for: There’s a whole book about its metal scene.
Potential alliances and sworn enemies: As in New England, the question here is whether the Dakotas will build each other up or tear each other down. A longtime public servant told South Dakota Public Broadcasting: “Everybody knows North Dakota and South Dakota are like brothers – you may fight a lot,” he said, but ultimately, “you get along and love each other.”
NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS
Represented by: Sabyu (island reggae/jazz/soul).
Musical heroes: KC and Daniel DeLeon Guerrero, Flora Baza Quan.
Potential alliances: The islands could team up with their neighbor Guam; both have a strong history of CHamoru folk music, which has influenced Sabyu’s creative output.
Represented by: Macy Gray (R&B/soul).
Musical heroes: John Legend, Chrissy Hynde, Dean Martin, Tracy Chapman, the Isley Brothers, Devo.
Potential alliances: As home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ohio should really stand for unity in popular music, choosing acts based on their merits, not interstate squabbles …
Sworn enemies: … but Ohio has a major feud with Michigan, dating back to a mostly bloodless 19th-century war over the boundary between the jurisdictions. These days, the states vent their anger on the college football field.
Represented by: AleXa (K-pop).
Musical heroes: Woody Guthrie, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Merle Haggard, the Flaming Lips, Hanson.
Oddest series of music-related decisions: The Flaming Lips’ Do You Realize?? was named the state’s official rock song in 2009 following a survey of 21,000 people. The decision had to be finalized via executive order from the Democratic governor, after a lawmaker in the Republican-controlled legislature complained about a hammer-and-sickle T-shirt worn by a band member. The governor’s Republican successor did not renew the executive order, so it’s no longer the official state rock song.
Potential alliances: In addition to producing an array of country music stars, Oklahoma itself is the state most like a country song – based on rates of pickup truck sales, divorces, cowboys and alcohol consumption, according to an investigation by a real estate site. So Tennessee, home of Nashville, is a good bet, even if AleXa herself is no country performer.
Sworn enemies: Oklahoma is among the most college football-obsessed states, and the University of Oklahoma and University of Texas have a serious rivalry that could spill over into the Song Contest.
Facebook Twitter AleXa may not be a country performer, but Oklahoma could see an alliance with Tennessee. Photograph: The Chosunilbo JNS/ImaZins/Getty Images
Represented by: courtship. (indie pop).
Musical heroes: The Decemberists, the Dandy Warhols.
Known for: The dream of the 90s remaining alive.
Potential alliances: Pacific north-west solidarity could create an alliance between Oregon and Washington state.
Sworn enemies: Oregonians are no fans of California for a wide range of reasons, generally related to the idea that they are coming north and ruining everything for the locals. The animosity is so powerful that to downvote a post on Oregon’s Reddit page, users click an outline of California.
Represented by: Bri Steves (rap).
Musical heroes: Taylor Swift, the Roots, Will Smith, Christina Aguilera, Boyz II Men, Meek Mill.
Potential alliances and sworn enemies: Philadelphia, where fans are known for throwing snowballs at Santa Claus and routinely booing their own players, rivals Boston for terrible sports fans. The city particularly hates the NFL’s Giants and Cowboys, which could prompt votes against New York and Texas. This prickly attitude could also be bad news for neighboring New Jersey – unless Philadelphians allow their love for going “down the shore” to supersede complaints about New Jersey drivers.
Represented by: Christian Pagán (pop).
Musical heroes: Ricky Martin, Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny, José Feliciano, Tito Matos.
Potential alliances: More people of Puerto Rican descent live on the mainland than on the island, forging strong ties to New York and Florida.
Facebook Twitter Puerto Rico is the birthplace of such musicians as Ricky Martin, center, and Bad Bunny, right, and Residente, shown here performing together at the Latin Grammy awards. Photograph: Valérie Macon/AFP/Getty Images
Represented by: Hueston (pop).
Musical heroes: Deer Tick.
Potential alliances: Rhode Island’s state beverage is coffee milk, which is like chocolate milk but with coffee syrup. Most other states with state beverages have chosen regular old milk, so Little Rhody (which is its genuine nickname) could form an interesting team by joining forces with states such as Ohio (tomato juice) and Massachusetts (cranberry juice).
Sworn enemies: Rhode Island is, of course, the smallest US state by area, so it could seek to flex its might by voting against Alaska, California and Texas.
Represented by: Jesse LeProtti (R&B/soul/pop).
Musical heroes: Dizzy Gillespie, Eartha Kitt, Iron and Wine, Hootie and the Blowfish.
Potential alliances: South Carolina played a role in the development of barbecue in the US, and it could team up with states such as Missouri and Texas to form a BBQ alliance.
Sworn enemies: In another food-based distinction, Georgia is famous for its peaches, but South Carolina likes to rib its neighbor over the fact that it actually produces more of them.
Represented by: Judd Hoos (indie rock).
Musical heroes: Struggling on this one, but you could totally remake Mount Rushmore to look like the Beatles or hip-hop royalty or Kiss.
Potential alliances and sworn enemies: See North Dakota.
Represented by: Tyler Braden (country).
Musical heroes: Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, Ke$ha, Kenny Chesney, Chet Atkins, Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake.
Known for: Nashville, the country music capital of the United States.
Potential alliances: The state’s country roots, as demonstrated by Tyler Braden, could lead to partnerships with states like Oklahoma, Alabama and Kentucky.
Sworn enemies: Other music capitals, including California, New York, Louisiana and Michigan, might pose a threat.
Represented by: Grant Knoche (pop).
Musical heroes: Beyoncé, Janis Joplin, Willie Nelson, Kelly Clarkson, Barry White, Roy Orbison.
Potential alliances and sworn enemies: Texas and California typically stand for opposite ends of the US political spectrum. But with California’s Snoop Dogg and Texas’s Kelly Clarkson jointly hosting the American Song Contest, perhaps the two states can overcome their differences.
Facebook Twitter Beyoncé calls the great state of Texas home as does Janis Joplin, Kelly Clarkson and Barry White. Photograph: adidas x IVY PARK
US VIRGIN ISLANDS
Represented by: Cruz Rock (Latin Caribbean pop).
Musical heroes: Verse Simmonds, Vanessa Daou, Midnite.
Potential alliances and sworn enemies: This is the only US jurisdiction where people drive on the left side of the road, British-style – so it might do a reverse revolution and secede from the contest altogether.
Represented by: Savannah Keyes (country pop).
Musical heroes: The Osmonds.
Potential alliances: Utah invented the Frisbee. Pennsylvania invented the Slinky. Imagine what the two states could do together!
Sworn enemies: New Hampshire. Utah, where alcohol is strictly regulated, drinks the least beer per capita of any US state, according to an investigation by the drinking-focused outlet VinePair. New Hampshire is at the opposite end of the scale.
Represented by: Josh Panda (pop).
Musical heroes: Phish, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.
Known for: Bernie Sanders talk-singing This Land Is Your Land, music-themed ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s (Cherry Garcia, Phish Food, Bohemian Raspberry, Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road).
Potential alliances and sworn enemies: See Connecticut.
Facebook Twitter Phish hail from Vermont. Photograph: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for SiriusXM
Represented by: Almira Zaky (R&B).
Musical heroes: Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, D’Angelo.
Potential alliances: Given that many in the Washington political establishment live in northern Virginia, the two jurisdictions could team up.
Sworn enemies: Virginians can’t stand “Maryland drivers” – a common complaint about drivers from other states, despite it seeming fairly unlikely that people who live within an hour of each other really have such different approaches to operating a vehicle. Maybe, just maybe, this has something to do with the fact that everyone’s driving around with their home state identified on the back of their cars.
Represented by: Allen Stone (R&B/rock/soul).
Musical heroes: Jimi Hendrix, Sleater-Kinney, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Bikini Kill, Fleet Foxes, Bing Crosby, Kenny G.
Known for: Alternative rock.
Potential alliances: See Oregon.
Sworn enemies: With a powerful tech sector featuring Amazon, Microsoft and Nintendo, Washington may want to challenge northern California for the title of Biggest Messiah Complex.
Represented by: NËITHER (hip-hop/soul).
Musical heroes: Duke Ellington, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Ginuwine.
Potential alliances: As a city rather than a state, DC might need help from its big siblings, Maryland and Virginia, to make an impact.
Sworn enemies: Leaders in every state – especially the red ones – love to score political points by attacking those out-of-touch Beltway bureaucrats. DC could decide to vote against all of them.
Represented by: Alexis Cunningham (folk).
Musical heroes: Bill Withers, Brad Paisley, Daniel Johnston.
Potential alliances: West Virginia was the birthplace of Mother’s Day, after a woman named Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at a church in Grafton in 1907. Washington state was the birthplace of Father’s Day, in 1910, after Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane got inspiration from Mother’s Day.
Sworn enemies: West Virginia, which didn’t want to secede from the Union, was recognized as its own state in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln. According to Matt Shirley’s map, some of that antagonism lingers.
Represented by: Jake’O (rock/blues/R&B).
Musical heroes: Bon Iver, Les Paul, Garbage, Violent Femmes.
Potential alliances: As the birthplace of Les Paul, who was central to the development of the solid-body electric guitar, Wisconsin could find solidarity (no pun intended) with Tennessee, where Gibson – which manufactures Les Paul guitars – is based.
Sworn enemies: Wisconsinites love their Packers, and the Packers hate the Chicago Bears. Expect a vote against Illinois.
Represented by: Ryan Charles (cowboy rap).
Musical heroes: Chris LeDoux.
Potential alliances: Wyoming is a big dinosaur-digging destination, and one of a small collection of states with official state dinosaurs. Here’s hoping for an American Song Contest Dinosaur Alliance.
Sworn enemies: Wyoming was the first territory to give women the right to vote, and the first state with a female governor. It might have an issue with the 19 states that, as of last year, still hadn’t had one.