Vladimir Putin plays the piano: 7 presidents and their talents

Most presidents usually adopt a serious, no-nonsense approach when they are on camera. But once in a while, showing off a different dimension to their personas has helped boost their appeal.

On May 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin was filmed playing two Russian songs - Moscow Windows and Evening Song - on the piano, while waiting to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. This is just one of the many highly publicised stunts showcasing the Russian head-of-state's talents.

Find out what other talents Mr Putin and other presidents have shown before: 

1. Tip-top vocals: Barack Obama


The former US president made no secret of his fondness for singing and breaking out into tunes regularly during speeches and events.

At a fund-raising event in New York in 2012, Mr Obama gave American soul singer Al Green -  who was in attendance - a run for his money when he began crooning the latter's song Let's Stay Together. Though Mr Obama's rendition lasted only a few seconds, it has been made into a free ringtone, Rolling Stone magazine reported.

2. Pitch-perfect Putin? 

Besides the Russian president's array of talents in the video above, Mr Putin was also filmed in 2010 playing the piano before singing a rendition of American artist Fats Domino's Blueberry Hill at a children's charity fund-raiser in St Petersburg.

Judging by the audience's rapturous applause, Mr Putin could charge for a tune or two at public speaking forums in a post-presidential future.

3. Painter-in-chief: George W. Bush

Paintings of wounded US military veterans painted by former US President George W. Bush hang in Portraits of Courage, a new exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas, on Feb 28, 2017. 
Former US president George W. Bush released a book featuring a series of 66 portraits of wounded or traumatised veterans he had met who served in the US military in Iraq or Afghanistan following the attacks on Sept 11, 2001. PHOTO: AFP

Earlier this year, former US President George W. Bush released a book of his paintings, titled Portraits of Courage: A commander in chief's tribute to America's warriors.

The paintings feature US war veterans who he had met, as well as a self-portrait. 

The Washington Post's art and architecture critic Philip Kennicott said the paintings demonstrate "virtues that are sadly lacking at the top of the American political pyramid today: curiosity, compassion, the commitment to learn something new and the humility to learn it in public". 

4. Saxy Bill Clinton?

Former US President Bill Clinton's prowess with the saxophone was on full parade at his 1993 Inauguration Ball, where he sportingly played the instrument on stage.

Prior to the election, Mr Clinton also famously played two songs, Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel and Billie Holiday's God Bless The Child, on the Arsenio Hall Show, a late-night talk show hosted by comedian Arsenio Hall.

The Los Angeles Times reported that musical instrument manufacturers immediately jumped on the trend, with one company, Winston Saxophones, releasing a Presidential Model saxophone - a gold-plated tenor saxophone. 

5. Man of the Match: Recep Tayyip Erdogan


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might have played for his country at previous Fifa World Cup football competitions, had he chose not to enter politics during his younger days. The BBC reported that he was a semi-professional footballer in the past.

Though well past a footballer's golden years, Mr Erdogan appears to have maintained his footballing skills and demonstrated them at an exhibition match in 2014. The head-of-state scored a hat-trick to lead his team to a 9-4 thumping of the opposition. 

6. Chinese calligraphy: S R Nathan

Mr S R Nathan at Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry's mid-autumn festival celebrations in 2005. He wrote his name in Chinese calligraphy style. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Former Singapore president S R Nathan was known to have an interest in Chinese calligraphy. He wrote at events like the 2011 Gifts of Love charity gala and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry's mid-autumn festival celebrations in 2005.  

7. Philippines Idol: Rodrigo Duterte

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has not been coy over his singing ability. His favourite tune appears to be Filipino singer Sharon Cuneta's Ikaw, which he sings on TV shows as well as to Filipino communities he meets, such as those in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Malaysia. 

ABS-CBN, a Philippines entertainment and media organisation, reported that Mr Duterte claimed to have successfully wooed three women with his rendition of Ikaw. 

Sources: Rolling Stone Magazine, BBC, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Billboard, ABS-CBN