A few weeks ago, a Hillary Clinton campaign video featuring the Bikini Kill song "Rebel Girl" went viral. That is, until Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill had the company that represents the band for licensing issue a copyright infringement notice to Hillary Clinton for using the song.
If you haven't sees the video, you're not going to now, because YouTube already pulled it down.
Scenarios like this aren't uncommon; a lot of musicians have asked politicians to stop using their songs. Here are some of the offenders.
1. Newt Gingrich
In 2011, lawyers for the band Journey sent Newt Gingrich a cease and desist letter demanding that he stop using their song "Don't Stop Believin'" at political events. In 2012, British band The Heavy did the same thing, forcing Gingrich to stop using their song "How You Like Me Now?" And In 2012, the band Survivor sued Newt Gingrich for using their song "Eye of the Tiger."
2. John McCain
John McCain had a rough go of it trying to pick music to use in his presidential campaign. In 2008, five different musicians asked "maverick" John McCain to stop using their songs.
In an interview with Blender, John McCain had said his favorite song was ABBA's "Dancing Queen." Unfortunately, his love for the band was not reciprocated, because ABBA asked John McCain to stop using their song "Take a Chance on Me." His campaign played the song a couple of times and, according to McCain, ". . . it's my understanding [ABBA] went berserk."
John McCain also tried playing John Mellencamp's songs "Our Country" and "Pink Houses" at campaign rallies, but Democrat Mellencamp, who never responded publicly, had his reps ask McCain to cut it out. (Mellencamp, who has referred to himself as "as left-wing as you can get," also asked George W. Bush in 2000 to stop using his song "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.")
McCain played Van Halen's 1993 hit "Right Now" at the end of the rally announcing Sarah Palin as his running mate, raising the ire of Obama supporters Eddie and Alex Van Halen. They issued a statement saying "Permission was not sought or granted, nor would it have been given."
Jackson Browne actually filed a lawsuit against John McCain when the senator used his song "Running on Empty" in a campaign ad slamming Obama's stance on gas conservation. The suit was settled in 2009, with John McCain being required to give Browne, who publicly supported Obama in the election, an undisclosed amount of money and a public apology.
The Foo Fighters took exception to McCain using their 1997 hit "My Hero" as the campaign's theme song. The band claimed that McCain didn't ask for permission to use the song, and issued a statement saying:
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.
3. Sarah Palin
It wasn't much easier for Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin to find music to use in 2008. Jon Bon Jovi, an Obama supporter who hosted a $30,000-per-person fundraiser in his home, lashed out at Palin after she used his song "Who Says You Can't Go Home."
After Palin used the Heart song "Barracuda" as her theme, band members (and sisters) Ann and Nancy Wilson issued a statement saying, "The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission. We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored." Well, their wishes were not honored, and the song was used again. So the Wilson sisters emailed EW.com the following statement:
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. The song "Barracuda" was written in the late '70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there.
4. Barack Obama
It's much more rare for a musician to ask a Democratic candidate to stop using his or her music, but in 2008, Sam Moore, of the R&B duo Sam and Dave, asked Obama to stop playing his song "Hold On, I'm Comin'" at rallies. In a letter to Obama, he wrote: "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 he added, “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.” Obama stopped using the song, and the following year,Moore performed (along with Elvis Costello and Sting) at Obama's inaugural ball.
5. Michele Bachmann
In 2011, both Tom Petty and Katrina and the Waves took umbrage with Republican presidential candidate and sufferer of perpetual crazy-eyes syndrome Michele Bachmann using their music at political events. After Bachmann used their hit song "Walking on Sunshine," band Katrina and the Waves issued a statement on their website, saying "Katrina & The Waves would like it to be known that they do not endorse the use of 'Walking On Sunshine' by Michele Bachmann and have instructed their lawyers accordingly."
Prior to that, Tom Petty's lawyers had sent Bachmann a cease and desist letter in response to her using his song "American Girl" once, at her campaign kick-off rally in Iowa. (Tom Petty sent a similar cease and desist letter to George W. Bush, when Bush used Petty's song "I Won't Back Down" in 2000. George Bush had no choice but to, yup, you guessed it,back down.)
6. Paul Ryan
In 2012, Paul Ryan used the 1984 Twisted Sister song "We're Not Gonna Take It" at a rally. The band's singer, Dee Snider, had never publicly objected to anyone using the song before, even when the Tea Party used it. But he drew the line at Paul Ryan. In a statement Snider said, "I emphatically denounce Paul Ryan's use of my band Twisted Sister's song, 'We're Not Gonna Take It,' in any capacity. There is almost nothing he stands for that I agree with except the use of the P90X."
Paul Ryan has publicly claimed that Rage Against The Machine is one of his favorite bands, and while he never used any of their songs at his political events, the band's guitarist Tom Morello wrote an op-ed published by Rolling Stone in response to that claim. He titled it "Paul Ryan Is the Embodiment of the Machine Our Music Rages Against."