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Donald Trump's thorny relationship with popular music

Trump squares off against two enemies (Paul McCartney, Father John Misty) and, oddly, one friend (Azealia Banks)

Trump squares off against two enemies (Paul McCartney, Father John Misty) and, oddly, one friend (Azealia Banks) AP; Courtney Perry

Over the past year or so, countless artists from all walks of the music world have come out against Donald Trump, using their platforms to villainize the Republican nominee for president. 

Dozens of anti-Trump songs of varying degrees of subtlety have popped up in the music blogosphere. But the vitriol doesn’t begin and end with diss songs. Anti-Trump comments, essays, merch, and more have made headlines on a seemingly daily basis, too.

Below is a roundup of the artists who have publicly disapproved Trump’s use of their music, as well as a collection of some of the most notable anti-Trump songs and miscellaneous Trump disses. Plus, we rounded up the highest-profile musicians to have endorsed The Donald. The list is as impressive as you'd expect. 

 

Songs Trump Used at Campaign Events -- Only to Have the Musicians Who Recorded Them Tell Him Not To

“Rolling in the Deep” and “Skyfall” by Adele

After Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and her theme for the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall were played at Trump events in Oklahoma and Ohio, respectively, a spokesperson for the singer addressed the situation in a statement to the Independent: “Adele has not given permission for her music to be used for any political campaigning.”

“Dream On” by Aerosmith

Last year, after Trump used Aerosmith’s “Dream On” at numerous events, frontman Steven Tyler’s reps filed two cease-and-desist letters to get the candidate to stop using the song. On Twitter, Trump later fired back, “Steven Tyler got more publicity on his song request than he’s gotten in ten years. Good for him!”

“Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles

After the George Harrison-penned “Here Comes the Sun” was played as Ivanka Trump took the stage at the Republican National Convention in July, Harrison’s family took to Twitter to say the use of the song was “unauthorized,” “offensive,” and “against the wishes of the George Harrison estate.”

“It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M.

R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe emailed The Daily Beast what remains the most harshly worded blast any musician has fired at Trump and his associates. “Go fuck yourselves, the lot of you -- you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry little men,” he wrote. “Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.”

“Sympathy for the Devil,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Brown Sugar,” and “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones

After Trump’s use of four of the Stones’ most iconic songs -- “Sympathy for the Devil,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Brown Sugar,” and “Start Me Up” -- a spokesperson for the band told Time, “The Rolling Stones have never given permission to the Trump campaign to use their songs and have requested that they cease all use immediately.”

“We Are the Champions” by Queen

Trump’s use of another song, Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” during his campaigning prompted guitarist Brian May to write on his website, "My personal reaction to Donald Trump using our music? We'd never give permission.” Later, after Trump played the song at the RNC, a representative for the band took to Twitter: “An unauthorised use at the Republican Convention against our wishes.”

“Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young

A day after Trump announced his presidential bid, Neil Young took issue with Trump’s use of his song “Rockin’ in the Free World.” "Donald Trump was not authorized to use Rockin' In The Free World in his presidential candidacy announcement,” a rep for Young wrote in a statement. The statement also noted that Young supported Bernie Sanders.

 

A Collection of Anti-Trump Songs

Brujeria -- “Viva Presidente Trump!”

Mexican-American metal band Brujeria’s “Viva Presidente Trump!” opens with a voice paraphrasing Trump’s comments about Mexican immigration in June 2015: “Mexico is not our friend. … They’re sending over their rapists, they’re sending over their drugs, they’re sending over their criminal scum, and we’re doing nothing about it.”

clipping. -- “Fat Fingers”

Hip-hop trio clipping., led by MC and Hamilton actor Daveed Diggs, came up with some of the most vitriolic lines in all of anti-Trump music, including these: “Can’t relate to shit ‘cause his life been too cushy / And keep grabbing vaginas ‘cause won’t no one give him pussy.” As with other songs here, “Fat Fingers” is included in the 30 Days, 30 Songs anti-Trump playlist curated by writer Dave Eggers, which recently expanded to 50 songs.

Mike Dean -- “Grab Em By Da Pussy”

While “Grab Em By Da Pussy” doesn’t exactly reflect the musical caliber that legendary rap producer Mike Dean is capable of, it does show commendable comedic timing, juxtaposing loops of Trump’s “Grab ‘em by the pussy” comments with the USA Freedom Kids ('member them? Apparenty they're anti-Trump now) singing, “President Donald Trump knows how to make America great!”

Cold War Kids -- “Locker Room Talk”

In a statement, Long Beach rockers Cold War Kids said they originally felt it “almost feels unnecessary” to release an anti-Trump song because it’s “too easy.” Eventually, they recorded “Locker Room Talk” after hearing Death Cab for Cutie’s “Million Dollar Loan,” deciding it’s “important to state the obvious.”

Death Cab for Cutie -- “Million Dollar Loan”

The inaugural 30 Days, 30 Songs track, Death Cab’s “Million Dollar Loan” was primarily inspired by Trump’s massive inheritance from his father. Frontman Ben Gibbard stated that Trump’s attempt to “cast himself as a self-made man” while campaigning in New Hampshire last year “truly disgusted me.”

Ani DiFranco -- “Play God”

“This is a song about reproductive freedom, the way I see it, which is as a civil right,” announced singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco at the beginning of her contribution to 30 Days, 30 Songs, a live version of her new single “Play God.”

Franz Ferdinand -- “Demagogue”

Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand added their own hard-rocking contribution to the 30 Days, 30 Songs project in the form of “Demagogue,” shouting that that’s exactly what Trump is -- a demagogue.

Jimmy Eat World -- “My Enemy”

Trump’s fear-mongering inspired JEW’s stomping “My Enemy.” “There are dangerous and very real consequences for using fear of ‘The Other’ to motivate a potential electorate,” the band wrote in a statement.

Moby -- “Little Failure” and “Trump Is on Your Side”

Moby released two of the most direct songs in the 30 Days, 30 Songs project. “Little Failure” features the Harlem-born artist speaking his lyrics, noting Trump’s business failures, racism, misogyny, and more.

“Trump Is on Your Side,” meanwhile, is obviously more sarcastic, with Moby repeating the title phrase over and over again. “When he doesn’t pay his workers and he calls them slobs, it’s only ‘cause he cares about American jobs,” he sings.

Pussy Riot -- “Make America Great Again”

The best part of Pussy Riot’s “Make America Great Again” song and video is the hashtag they used when posting it: #pussygrabsback.

Swet Shop Boys -- “T5”

Though not exactly an anti-Trump song, Swet Shop Boys’ “T5” features one of the most memorable barbs against Trump, courtesy of Riz MC, aka Riz Ahmed, the actor known for his roles in Nightcrawler, Jason Bourne, and The Night Of. “Trump want my exit / But if he press a red button to watch Netflix, bruv, I’m on,” he raps.

Loudon Wainwright III -- “I Had a Dream”

One of the more overtly humorous anti-Trump songs, Wainwright’s “I Had a Dream” imagines the candidate as the winner of the election: “His face was bright orange and his hair was just weird / But we were made great again, embarrassed and feared.”

YG -- “FDT” and “FDT Pt. 2”

YG’s “FDT,” whose title stands for “Fuck Donald Trump,” is easily the least subtle anti-Trump song, with the Compton rapper repeating the title line 32 times across four choruses. His verse is more specific: “I’m ‘bout to turn Black Panther / Don’t let Donald Trump win, that nigga cancer / He too rich, he ain’t got the answers.”

“Pt. 2” swaps out Nipsey Hussle to make room for the somewhat unlikely pair of Macklemore and Oakland’s G-Eazy. The latter notes that he would totally bang Ivanka Trump.

Father John Misty -- "Trump's Private Pilot" 

The enigmatic indie-folk star is actually covering a piano ballad written by comedian Tim Heidecker. 

 

Miscellaneous Trump Hate from Musicians

Bruce Springsteen’s Interview with Rolling Stone

The legendary rocker, who performed Monday at Hillary Clinton’s final rally, told Rolling Stone, “The republic is under siege by a moron, basically.”

Case/Lang/Veirs’ Canceled Late Show Appearance and Neko Case’s Subsequent Tweets

After supergroup Case/Lang/Veirs’ Colbert appearance was canceled to make more airtime for coverage of the RNC, Neko Case sarcastically tweeted, “Trump needed more media air time. He wasn’t getting enough.”

The Roots’ Subtle Trump Diss on Fallon

Before Trump’s appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in September, the Roots repurposed lines from Erykah Badu’s song “20 Feet Tall”: “Then you, you built a wall / A 20-foot wall / So I couldn’t see.”

Tyler, the Creator Compares Trump to Hitler with T-Shirt

Odd Future rapper Tyler, the Creator created his own piece of anti-Trump attire in the form of a T-shirt that depicted Trump with a Hitler mustache.

Roger Waters’ Desert Trip Performance

During Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters’ set at Desert Trip last month, numerous unflattering depictions of Trump appeared on a screen above the stage, including images of Trump holding a massive dildo as a rifle and another showing him in a KKK hood.

The White Stripes’ 'Icky Trump' T-Shirts

In reference to their song “Icky Thump” and album of the same name, the White Stripes revealed new T-shirts reading, “Icky Trump,” available for purchase at Jack White’s Third Man Records store

 

Highest-Profile Musicians Vowing Support for Trump

Finally, we'll leave you with "Like a Bird," the forgotten/question pop song from Donald's daughter, Tiffany.