Politicians have been using music in political campaigns for years, and are typically obliged to use whatever songs they want as long as they pay a blanket license fee. This hasn’t stopped liberal musicians from demanding that Republican candidates stop using their songs without permission, and taking legal action for misrepresenting their work or breaking copyright laws. At this point, any major Republican is doomed to getting cease-and-desist letters from pop stars unless they take the path of least resistance and go with a song by a relatively small pool of Republican rockers. This is exactly what Mitt Romney has done, by the way - his current campaign theme is “Born Free” by the famously right-leaning Kid Rock.
2. Silversun Pickups “Panic Switch”
The Los Angeles alt-rockers sent a cease-and-desist order to the Mitt Romney campaign for using this song during set up at a rally. “We were very close to just letting this go because the irony was too good,” the band said in a statement. “While he is inadvertently playing a song that describes his whole campaign, we doubt that ‘Panic Switch’ really sends the message he intends.”
3. Survivor “Eye of the Tiger”
Survivor sued Newt Gingrich earlier this year for using their Rocky III hit “Eye of the Tiger” at public appearances dating back to 2009.
4. Talking Heads “Road to Nowhere”
Former Florida governor Charlie Crist paid out a settlement to Talking Heads singer and songwriter David Byrne last year for using this 1985 hit without permission in a 2010 attack ad against his Senate race opponent, Marco Rubio.
5. Don Henley “All She Wants to Do Is Dance”
Don Henley sued Assemblyman and Senate candidate Chuck DeVore for copyright infringement for using parody versions of his songs “All She Wants to Do Is Dance” and “The Boys of Summer” in his campaign against Barbara Boxer. DeVore, clearly a very clever guy, changed the lyrics to “All She Wants to Do Is Tax.”
6. Heart “Barracuda”
Sarah Palin has the nickname “Barracuda,” so she used the Heart song of the same name during her speech at the Republican National Convention in 2008. Heart were not amused, and sent Palin a furious cease-and-desist letter. “”I think it’s completely unfair to be so misrepresented. I feel completely fucked over,” guitarist Nancy Wilson told Entertainment Weekly.
7. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “American Girl”
Tom Petty sent Michele Bachmann a cease-and-desist order last year for using “American Girl,” one of his most famous songs, as her entrance music at rallies.
8. Katrina and the Waves “Walking On Sunshine”
Katrina and the Waves also demanded that Michele Bachmann drop their 1985 hit from her rallies. “I’ve performed ‘Walking on Sunshine’ for so many years in so many different countries that it’s become the one constant in my life and the one thing I can count on to bring happiness to myself and others,” singer Katrina Leskanich told Rolling Stone. “The song is used in commercials and movies as a vehicle for a feel good moment or empowerment but if I disagree with the policies, opinions or platforms for its use, I’ve no choice but to try and defend the song and prevent its misuse. Music can be both powerful and moving and sometimes even a little dangerous.”
9. Jackson Browne “Running On Empty”
Jackson Browne, famous for his lefty politics, filed a lawsuit against John McCain in 2008 for using his hit “Running On Empty” in an ad attacking Barack Obama without his permission. Browne won the suit in 2009, which forced McCain to formally apologize and pay out undisclosed damages.
10. Foo Fighters “My Hero”
Dave Grohl blasted John McCain for using this Foo Fighters hit on his 2008 campaign. “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. The saddest thing about this is that ‘My Hero’ was written as a celebration of the common man and his extraordinary potential,” Grohl said in a statement.
11. John Mellencamp “Pink Houses”
John McCain had a hard time holding on to any song he used as campaign music in 2008. John Mellencamp, another famously liberal rocker, pushed the McCain machine to drop his hits “Our Country” and “Pink Houses” from his rallies.
12. Boston “More Than A Feeling”
Mike Huckabee used Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” at campaign events in 2008, and went so far as to have a former touring member of the band on stage, claiming that the guitarist was the “guy who originally did it.” It wasn’t - Boston mastermind Tom Scholz wrote, performed and produced every guitar part on the record, and clarified this in a letter to Huckabee in which he told the politician “you have taken something of mine and used it to promote ideas to which I am opposed.”