Donald Trump took the stage at the Republican National Convention to Queen’s “We Are The Champions.” Band member Brian May wrote that it was an unauthorized use of their song (even if it was licensed), while on Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver noted that it probably killed the band’s frontman Freddie Mercury again.
There’s a long history of politicians using songs without the permission of the musician, like when Ronald Reagan used Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” or Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker used a Dropkick Murphys song, causing the band to reply that they “literally hate” him, or when Trump boldly used REM’s “It’s The End of the World As We Know It,” prompting frontman Michael Stipe to tell the now Republican nominee to “Go f*** yourself.” Regardless of the contempt of the artists, politicians continue to use their songs.
To help musicians plead their case, Oliver invited Heart, Michael Bolton, Usher, Cyndi Lauper, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, John Mellencamp, Imagine Dragons and more to come together in song and take a stand against unauthorized song use. The final result was the aptly named tune, “Don’t Use Our Songs”, which begged politicians: “Don’t use our songs/ cause you use it wrong. It might seem appealing but it’s just stealing.”
And just to be clear, candidates can’t use this song in their campaigns either.