Donald Trump vs. Aerosmith: When campaign rally songs go wrong (plus a few that could go right)
No R.E.M., no Neil Young and now no Aerosmith. Pretty soon, Donald Trump is going to have to start writing his own campaign music, because no artist wants to seem to let him use theirs.
Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler is the latest artist to cry foul over Trump using one of their songs at campaign rallies across America, issuing a cease-and-desist letter requesting that he stop playing Dream On because it “gives the false impression that he is connected with or endorses Mr. Trump’s presidential bid.”
This follows similar threats involving Young’s Rockin’ in the Free World and R.E.M.’s It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine). He may be leading most polls for the Republican presidential candidacy, but these artists are NOT enjoying his endorsement.
“Personally, I think the Orange Clown will do anything for attention. I hate giving it to him,” R.E.M.’s Mike Mills tweeted. Added bandmate Michael Stipe, to the Daily Beast: “Go f--- yourselves, the lot of you — you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry little men. Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.”
This happens every year — Candidate X picks a pump-you-up song to rally supporters at campaign stops; Artist Z pitches a fit; then it’s on to the next track. Such conflicts are a staple of modern election season — Sarah Palin co-opting Heart’s Barracuda, John McCain biting Jackson Browne’s Running On Empty, Scott Walker using the Dropkick Murphys’ I’m Shipping Up to Boston.
Sometimes these conflicts even result in a lawsuit, as happened in 2010, when Talking Heads frontman David Byrne sued then-U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Crist for $1 million for using the song Road to Nowhere in an attack ad against Marco Rubio. The suit was settled in 2011, and Crist apologized in a sober YouTube video.
“Other artists may actually have the anger but not want to take the time and risk the legal bills,” Byrne said in a statement to Billboard. “I am lucky that I can do that. Anyway, my hope is that by standing up to this practice maybe it can be made to be a less common option, or better yet an option that is never taken in the future.”
While things haven’t progressed to the lawsuit stage in Trump World yet (he says his issue with Tyler has been "worked out"), it may be a while before he finds an A-list artist willing to lend their name and sound to his campaign.
But maybe he’s going about his song selection process all wrong. Instead of biting from baby-boomin’ rockers like Aerosmith and Young, he should follow his Trumpian instincts and embrace the blingy opulence and swagger of hip hop. The Donald has long been a go-to name-drop for rappers looking to boast about their staggering material wealth.
Here are three songs Trump really should be using.
Mac Miller, Donald Trump: “I take over the world when I’m on my Donald Trump s--- / Look at all this money, ain’t that some s---?” Indeed it is.
Rae Sremmurd, Up Like Trump: This one from oddball rap duo Rae Sremmund addresses his predilection for golden accessories (“Up like Donald Trump, chain swings like nunchucks”), but it might get him into trouble down the line with Putin (“She gon’ chew you up, twerk like she’s from Russia”).
Jeezy feat. Birdman, Trump: Trump could surely relate to this Dirty South paean to the finer things in life, like Louis Vuitton toilet paper and pet sharks who drink rosé. Sample lyric: “Richest n---a in my hood; call me Donald Trump / the type of n---a to count my money while I smoke a blunt.”
Yeah, Trump should play that one. The reaction on the Sunday morning talk shows would be yooge.
-- Jay Cridlin