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12 Artists Who Blasted Politicians For Using Their Music Without Permission

Calvin Harris is in good company.

05/10/2017 16:42

It must be tough enough as a musician when your art is taken out of context, but we bet it’s twice as hard when you suddenly find your songs used by politicians whose beliefs you’re rather opposed to.

Over the years, a number of artists have spoken out to condemn politicians for using their music at rallies and political conventions, and here are just a number of the most high-profile (and scathing)...

  • 1 Calvin Harris
    Dave J Hogan via Getty Images
    Prior to her already-infamous speech at the 2017 Conservative Party conference, Theresa May entered the stage to the Rihanna and Calvin Harris collaboration, 'This Is What You Came For'.

    Calvin tweeted by way of a response: "Conservative party conference playing my song was not approved - I do not support nor condone happy songs being played at such a sad event."
  • 2 Florence Welch
    Joseph Okpako via Getty Images
    At the same event, Florence's cover of 'You Got The Love' was played at the end, when Theresa May left the stage.

    The singer tweeted: "Today's use of 'You've Got The Love' at the Conservative party conference was not approved by us nor would it have been had they asked."

    She also requested that the Conservative party "refrained from using" her music at future events.
  • 3 Adele
    Gareth Cattermole via Getty Images
    Adele took umbrage with Donald Trump during his 2016 election campaign, when 'Rolling In The Deep' was used repeatedly at his rallies.

    In a short but to-the-point statement, her spokesperson said: "Adele has not given permission for her music to be used for any political campaigning.”
  • 4 R.E.M.
    Rex/Shutterstock
    Adele's statement was somewhat more subdued than R.E.M., who were less than thrilled to learn that Trump had been blasting their tune, 'It's The End Of The World As We Know It' at his rallies.

    Frontman Michael Stipe issued a statement telling the then-Presidential candidate to "go fuck himself", making it clear he wanted nothing to do with his ideologies.
  • 5 Abba
    Gus Stewart via Getty Images
    They may not have been together for the past few decades, but in 2010, Benny and Björn from Abba reunited to sue a far-right Danish political party for using one of their songs.

    The party re-wrote lyrics to 'Mamma Mia!' at a rally, prompting the pair to take legal action.

    Benny said: "Firstly, you cannot just rewrite songs as you like and secondly we want them to understand that we have absolutely no interest in supporting their party."
  • 6 Bruce Springsteen
    Samir Hussein via Getty Images
    Ronald Reagan seemingly missed the ironic message behind Bruce Springsteen's 'Born In The USA' when he reached out to use the song in his re-election campaign, only to be rebuffed.

    In later years, Bob Dole and Pat Buchanan both used the songs in their campaign, only for the rocker to distance himself from the candidates.
  • 7 Aerosmith
    NurPhoto via Getty Images
    Steven Tyler sent Donald Trump a cease-and-desist letter when he first started using 'Dream On' at his campaigns.

    True to form, Trump responded on Twitter that he'd already found a "better song" to replace 'Dream On', adding: "Steven Tyler got more publicity on his song request than he’s gotten in ten years. Good for him!"

    If you just felt your chair shake, it was a monumental eye roll felt around the world.
  • 8 James
    C Brandon via Getty Images
    It's not just right-wing candidates that musicians have objected to, though, as Gordon Brown found out when he used James' hit 'Sit Down' at a Labour conference in 2008.

    Singer Tim Booth commented that the leader was "missing the point" of the song by including it, as it was written about the "unity of people and spirit rather than healing the divisions of political parties".
  • 9 Elton John
    Daniel Perez Garcia-Santos via Getty Images
    Sir Elton flat out refused to play at Trump's inauguration, telling the press there was "no fucking way" he'd be appearing, despite his song 'Rocket Man' appearing on his rally playlists.

    Of course, 'Rocket Man' later became part of Trump's vernacular when it came to goading North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on Twitter.
  • 10 Survivor
    Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
    When 'Eye Of The Tiger' was used by Kim Davis, who made headlines with her anti-same-sex marriage beliefs, Survivor were not impressed.

    "We did not grant Kim Davis any rights to use ['Eye Of The Tiger']," they wrote on Facebook, "I would not grant her the rights to use Charmin!"
  • 11 The Smiths
    ITV/REX/Shutterstock
    In 2010, then-PM David Cameron named The Smiths as one of his favourite bands, much to the chagrin of guitarist Johnny Marr.

    "Stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don't," Johnny tweeted at the time, "I forbid you to like it."
  • 12 Queen
    Express Newspapers via Getty Images
    If anyone was going to try and appropriate a message as clumsy as 'We Are The Champions' in their political campaign, it was going to be Donald Trump, right?

    Guitarist Brian May assured one fan in 2016: "I will make sure we take what steps we can to dissociate ourselves from Donald Trump's unsavoury campaign."

    The amount of pop stars distancing themselves from Trump during his campaign was in stark contrast to opponent Hillary Clinton, who had the support of huge singers like Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Jay-Z.
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