A catchy tune with meaningful lyrics might strike some presidential hopefuls as the ideal song to propel their campaigns – feel good anthems and underdog tales.
But as much as a candidate may believe a piece of music aligns with their politics or persona, musicians often react with fury.
Stern letters are sent by lawyers demanding that the cord is abruptly yanked from the speakers – and when it’s not a public scolding soon follows.
In the latest bust up, Eminem lashed out at Republican Vivek Ramaswamy‘s use of his hit song Lose Yourself.
Here DailyMail.com looks back at all the showdowns between popstars and politicians – from Dr. Dre and Marjorie Taylor Greene, to Adele and Donald Trump.
Eminem ordered Vivek Ramaswamy to cease from playing his tune ‘Lose Yourself’
John Mellencamp discouraged Ronald Regan from blasting his hit ‘Pink Houses’ in 1984
Adele took a stand against Donald Trump and said she backed Hillary Clinton
EMINEM vs VIVEK RAMASWAMY
The real Slim Shady told 2024 Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy to stand down, and stop rapping to his tunes on the campaign trail.
Eminem reached out to the music licenser BMI and asked that the Ramaswamy campaign’s license to use his music be revoked, according to a letter obtained by DailyMail.com.
Ramaswamy had performed Eminem’s Lose Yourself 11 days before the letter was sent, at the Iowa State Fair, entertaining an early morning crowd gathered to hear him speak alongside Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds.
In a letter dated August 23, a BMI spokesperson got in touch with Vivek’s campaign lawyer regarding the publisher’s music license for political entities agreement.
It said the label had ‘received communications from Marshall B. Mathers III, AKA Eminem, objecting to the Vivek Ramaswamy campaign’s use of Eminem’s musical compositions (the “Eminem Works”)’.
The correspondence goes on to say that the letter ‘serves as notice that the Eminem Works are excluded from the agreement effective immediately’.
‘BMI will consider any performance of the Eminem Works by the Vivek 2024 campaign from this date forward to be a material breach of the agreement for which BMI reserves all rights and remedies with respect thereto.’
Ramaswamy had performed libertarian-themed raps under the stage name ‘Da Vek’ during his undergraduate years at Harvard University – and has been a longtime fan of Eminem.
‘I did not grow up in the circumstances he did,’ said Ramaswamy, whose Indian immigrant parents were an engineer and a physician. ‘But the idea of being an underdog, people having low expectations of you, that part speaks to me,’ he told The New York Times earlier this month.
Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy (left) has been notified that rapper Eminem (right) no longer wants him rapping to his music on the campaign trail. Ramaswamy performed Lose Yourself at the Iowa State Fair earlier this month
FOO FIGHTERS, ABBA vs JOHN McCAIN
During the 2008 presidency campaign, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl was backing Barack Obama.
But that didn’t stop John McCain trying to harness My Hero as a power anthem to help push him to the front of the race, the Guardian reported.
‘It’s frustrating and infuriating that someone who claims to speak for the American people would repeatedly show such little respect for creativity and intellectual property,’ Foo Fighters said in a statement.
‘This isn’t the first time the McCain campaign has used a song without making any attempt to get approval or permission from the artist.
‘The saddest thing about this is that “My Hero” was written as a celebration of the common man and his extraordinary potential.
‘To have it appropriated without our knowledge and used in a manner that perverts the original sentiment of the lyric just tarnishes the song. We hope that the McCain campaign will do the right thing and stop using our song — and start asking artists’ permission in general.’
McCain reportedly got the message, but chose to continue using the song as his theme tune.
Foo Fighters said in a statement the band felt infuriated by the use of ‘My Hero’ at John McCain’s rallies
AEROSMITH, ADELE, NEIL YOUNG, ELTON JOHN, THE ROLLING STONES, QUEEN, PHARRELL WILLIAMS vs DONALD TRUMP
Picking a song and not triggering an onslaught of kick back from the person who wrote it appears to most difficult for Donald Trump.
Over the years, he’s had a series of esteemed music artists request he stop using their music, including Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Neil Young and Adele.
Singer Pharrell issued a cease-and-desist notice with a strong-worded letter to Trump after the former president used his song at a rally just hours after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting left 11 people dead in 2018.
‘There was nothing “happy” about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose,’ the letter from Williams’s lawyer stated, adding the producer ‘has not and will not’ give Trump permission to use any of his music.
Elton John pushed back during Trump’s 2016 campaign after learning his tracks Tiny Dancer and Rocket Man were being blasted at his rallies.
‘I don’t really want my music to be involved in anything to do with an American election campaign. I’m British,’ John said.
‘I’ve met Donald Trump, he was very nice to me, it’s nothing personal, his political views are his own, mine are very different. I’m not a Republican in a million years.’
Adele also stood her ground during the same campaign. While declaring she was ‘100 percent for Hillary Clinton’, the singer said she had ‘not given permission for her music to be used for any political campaigning’ after being told Skyfall and Rolling In The Deep featured as tracks on his political playlist.
Donald Trump has copped criticism for his choice of songs in the past
BOBBY MCFERRIN vs GEORGE H. W. BUSH
The monster hit Don’t Worry, Be Happy is a tune known around the world – but Bobby McFerrin was anything but pleased when he learned George H. W. Bush was using his infectious tune as a campaign theme song.
Bush, who served as the 41st president from 1989 to 1993, reportedly adored the 1988 song and would often play it in his limousine while still vice president under Ronald Reagan.
McFerrin’s manager, Linda Goldstein, sent a letter to the Bush campaign that read: ‘We were quite surprised at this unauthorized appropriation of Mr. McFerrin’s rights.
‘Indeed if anyone were to recognize the value of personal property rights, one would expect it to be the Republican Party.
‘While we are amused that the Bush campaign would find its political philosophy reflected in the song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” we do not wish to have the composition associated with any Presidential candidate.’
Eager to put aside any untoward feelings, Bush invited McFerrin to dinner but was rebuffed.
‘Just five minutes ago I got a call from the White House. They want Bobby to accompany Bush on the trail in California and have dinner with him,’ Goldstein said in an interview with the New York Times.
‘I declined. I said Bobby was a committed Democrat. The man said, “That’s what makes this country great.”‘
The musician behind Don’t Worry, Be Happy wasn’t stoked to learn George H. W. Bush was using his hit
JOHN MELLENCAMP vs RONALD REAGAN, GEORGE W. BUSH AND JOHN McCAIN
John Mellencamp’s music should just be assumed a no-go zone for politicians hoping to include it in their campaign strategies.
When McCain used ‘Our Country’ and ‘Pink Houses’ to hit home his ‘Country First’ message in 2008 at his rallies across primary states, he was asked to stop.
Mellencamp’s publicist told Rolling Stone: ‘If you’re such a true conservative, why are you playing songs that have a very populist pro-labor message written by a guy who would find no argument if you characterized him as left of center?’
His request was received and four days later, McCain’s spokesman said they would no longer be played.
Previously, Mellencamp had asked George W. Bush to pull back from creating a political anthem out of ‘Rock in the U.S.A’ in 2000 and also discouraged Ronald Regan from doing the same with ‘Pink Houses’ in 1984.
U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) leaves the podium after a news conference February 27, 2006 in New York City
JOURNEY vs NEWT GINGRICH
While Don’t Stop Believing surely has everything a politician would ever dream of in a campaign track, Journey had other ideas.
Newt Gingrich was using the song throughout political events in 2011, but the band said he needed to stop.
It wasn’t the only time Gingrich was called out for his song selection. Twice in February 2012, songwriters complained about him violating copyright laws with the use of ‘How Do You Like Me Now?’ by the Heavy at a Tampa rally and playing ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor at a range of events in the three years prior, the New York Times reported.
A former member of Survivor, Frankie Sullivan, who helped write the song said the song’s value could decrease if its linked to other people.
‘My motives have nothing to do with politics,’ he said. ‘It’s one of my babies, and I’m just exercising the laws of this great country.’
While ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ surely has everything a politician would ever dream of in a campaign track, Journey had other ideas. Newt Gingrich was using the song throughout political events in 2011, but the band said he needed to stop
SAM & DAVE vs BARACK OBAMA
While it might have been a victorious feeling for Barack Obama to hear audiences at rallies cry out ‘Hold On Obama’s Comin’, soul music legend Sam Moore – known as the tenor voice in R&B duo Sam and Dave – was less amused.
The remix of his hit Hold On, I’m Coming was triggered when it was blasted at Obama’s demonstrations.
Moore issued the then-Democratic candidate a cease and desist alongside a kindly-worded note, according to Slate.
‘Having been hit with rocks and water hoses in the streets, in the day with Dr. King as part of his artist appearance and fundraising team, it is thrilling, in my lifetime, to see that our country has matured to the place where it is no longer an impossibility for a man of color to really be considered as a legitimate candidate for the highest office in our land.
‘But please, stop using my song. 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.’
His wishes were respected and Obama stopped using the song.
Soul music legend Sam Moore said in a letter to Barack Obama his vote is a ‘private matter’
STING vs AL GORE
Sting’s track Brand New Day might seem like the ideal hit to get to swing a few votes – but the English rocker was having none of it.
His manager, Miles Copeland, said the entertainer had no interest in being a part of an election in a country where he considers himself a ‘guest’, Salon reported.
‘It’s not a polite thing to do,’ he said.
Sting’s track Brand New Day was a top pick for Al Gore
HEART vs SARAH PALIN
John McCain’s 2009 vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin prompted outcry from rock band Heart when she tried to use their timeless hit Barracuda.
The group found success in the mid-to-late-1970s after founding members Roger Fisher and Steve Fossan linked up with Michael Derosier, Howard Leese and sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson.
But when Palin, whose nickname is high school was ‘Sarah Barracuda’, used the song at the 2008 Republican National Convention, the band did not approve.
‘I feel completely f**ked over,’ Nancy Wilson said. ‘Sarah Palin’s views and values in no way represent us as American women. We ask that our song “Barracuda” no longer be used to promote her image.’
Despite the frustration, Palin continued to use the song, claiming they had the rights under a blanket ASCAP license.
Sarah Palin prompted outcry from rock band Heart when she tried to use their timeless hit Barracuda
DR.DRE vs MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE
GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was locked out of her X account in January this year over using Dr. Dre’s copyrighted music without permission.
She posted a clip of her walking onto the House floor to the 1999 rap track Still D.R.E, but received an icy response from the hip hop’s legend team who took swift action in getting it removed.
He told TMZ he doesn’t grant the use of his music to politicians, ‘especially someone as divisive and hateful as this one’.
Greene hit back, saying: ‘While I appreciate the creative chord progression, I would never play your words of violence against women and police officers, and your glorification of the thug life and drugs.’
Dr. Dre said he didn’t want politicians to use his music, especially not people as ‘divisive and hateful’ as Greene
SURVIOR vs NIKKI HALEY
Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan lashed out when he first realized Nikki Haley was walking on to their biggest smash Eye of the Tiger to amp up a crowd at an event in South Carolina on February 15, this year.
The song hit no.1 in 39 countries and remains a fan favorite, but Sullivan, who co-wrote the song, says it’s wasn’t created for politics.
‘Stop using my f—ing song!’ he demanded in an interview with Billboard.
‘This morning I get up and I’m doing my thing, writing and I turn on my phone and it explodes and I’m like, “What happened is my mom okay?”
‘That song belongs with the Rocky franchise and they don’t ask because they’d get a no. Absolutely.
‘I don’t care who it is, I don’t think it’s appropriate, especially with “Tiger”, since it’s such a special song.’
Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan said Eye of the Tiger belongs with the Rocky franchise