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The Top 10: Musicians Who Objected to Politicians Using Their Songs | The Independent

The Top 10: Musicians Who Objected to Politicians Using Their Songs | The Independent

The Top 10: Musicians Who Objected to Politicians Using Their Songs | The Independent
October 22
09:06 2018

This list started when Alastair Campbell tried, via Twitter, to persuade Abba to object to Theresa May jiving on to the stage at the Conservative Party conference to “Dancing Queen”. The band had objected to the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party when it played “Mamma Mia” at rallies (changing the “Mia” to “Pia” after their leader, Pia Kjaersgaard, Robert Boston told me). But Björn Ulvaeus, asked by journalists, refused to comment on the British prime minister’s homage.

1. Abba: The band’s publishers also served John McCain with a cease and desist letter for using “Take a Chance on Me” in 2008. A somewhat un-reassuring political message, I thought, nominated by No Ordinary Cat.

2. The Dandy Warhols: Not one but two artists angrily protested against Theresa May’s use of “Bohemian Like You” before becoming prime minister. Primal Scream initially went ballistic, having assumed that it was their “Rocks”. When it turned out it was the Warhols tune made famous by Vodafone’s advertisements, Courtney Taylor-Taylor of the Warhols said: “Why don’t they have right-wing bands make them some right-wing music for their right-wing politics?” Thanks to James Moore.

3. Coldplay: I don’t think they objected, but Alan Robertson reminds me of Ed Miliband’s strange choice of “Viva La Vida”, a song affirming life through pain and suffering, when he won the Labour leadership election in 2010.

4. The Rolling Stones were not pleased when Angela Merkel used “Angie” in 2005. They also thought it was odd because it is about the end of a relationship, said Robert Boston.

5. Tom Petty disapproved of George W Bush using “I Won’t Back Down” for his 2000 campaign. Bush received a cease and desist order from Petty’s publisher, and … backed down. Another nomination from No Ordinary Cat.

6. Ed Sheeran objected when “Little Bump” was used by the “No” side in the Irish abortion referendum this year. Thanks to Alastair Warner.

7. George Harrison threatened to sue Bob Dole for his unauthorised use of “Taxman” in the 1996 US presidential campaign against Bill Clinton. Nominated by Deadpool.

8. Johnny Marr: David Cameron didn’t even use The Smiths music for election campaigns, he just said he liked it. Marr responded: “David Cameron, stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don’t. I forbid you to like it.”

9. Al Green, an Obama supporter, objected to Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012 using a clip of Barack Obama singing Green’s ”Let’s Stay Together”. YouTube removed the advert and the footage of Obama, but restored them after Romney counter-protested, arguing that it was fair use.

10. Elton John objected to Donald Trump using “Rocket Man” at his rallies, although when the president called Kim Jong-un “Little Rocket Man” and gave the North Korean president a copy of the CD, John refused to comment. Chris Jones said: “You could form an amazing supergroup from musicians angry with Trump about using their music.” As well as Elton John there were the Rolling Stones, Adele, Neil Young, Queen, REM and George Harrison.

There were several nominations for Bruce Springsteen, who was unimpressed by Ronald Reagan’s use of “Born in the USA”, but this featured in my Top 10 Songs that mean the opposite of what most people think they mean. Same goes for Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop”, used as an uptempo feel-good theme by, among others, Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, despite being a song about a breakup.

Next week: Parodies more successful than the originals, starting with ’Allo, ’Allo, a parody of Secret Army

Coming soon: Facts that sound fake but are true, such as: Saddam Hussein was given the keys to the city of Detroit in 1980

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to

Source: The Top 10: Musicians Who Objected to Politicians Using Their Songs | The Independent

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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