Accessibility links

Breaking News

REM Slams Trump Campaign Over Use of Its Song

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally organized by Tea Party Patriots in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 9, 2015, to oppose the Iran nuclear agreement.

It is fairly common for music to be played during campaign rallies in the U.S., but sometimes artists aren't too pleased to have their songs associated with politicians.

On Wednesday, alternative rock band R.E.M. expressed outrage after its 1987 song It’s The End of the World as We Know it (And I Feel Fine) was played while Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump walked onto the stage during a "Stop the Iran Deal Rally" outside the U.S. Capitol.

Other conservatives, including fellow Republican candidate Ted Cruz, were also at the event.

'Do not use our music'

R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe issued a strong response, via the Twitter page of bassist Mike Mills. "Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign," he said.

The band later issued an official statement.

"While we do not authorize or condone the use of our music at this political event, and do ask that these candidates cease and desist from doing so, let us remember that there are things of greater importance at stake here," R.E.M. said. "The media and the American voter should focus on the bigger picture, and not allow grandstanding politicians to distract us from the pressing issues of the day and of the current Presidential campaign."

Earlier this year, Trump drew the ire of musician Neil Young, who said the billionaire businessman was “not authorized to use” the song Rockin’ in the Free World when he announced his candidacy for president.

"Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of (Democratic candidate) Bernie Sanders for president of the United States of America," said a statement from Young’s management company.

Trump quickly responded on Twitter, calling Young a hypocrite, and saying the musician had asked him for money on an audio deal.

Trump does not use Young's song anymore.

Other instances

There have been dozens of similar cases, most of them involving Republicans.

Just this week, a member of the rock band Survivor objected to the use of the song Eye of the Tiger during a rally that featured Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee introducing Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who had been jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"I do not like mixing rock and roll with politics; they do not go hand in hand," Sullivan told Rolling Stone magazine.

Earlier this year, the band Dropkick Murphys hit out at Wisconsin Governor and current Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker, who walked out to the band's song I'm Shipping Up to Boston during an event.

In a rarer case involving a Democrat, soul singer Sam Moore told then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 to stop playing the Sam and Dave song Hold On, I'm Comin'.

"I have not agreed to endorse you for the highest office in our land. ... My vote is a very private matter between myself and the ballot box,” Moore said.

Cease and desist

In many of these cases, the politician agrees to stop using an artists' music if they strongly object or issue a cease-and-desist letter.

In 2012, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan had been using the Twisted Sister song We're Not Gonna Take It during campaign stops.

Lead singer Dee Snider "emphatically" denounced Ryan's use of the song.

In an email response to Politico, a spokesman for Ryan said, "We're not gonna play it anymore."

Your opinion

Show comments