Stop Using My Song: 35 Artists Who Fought Politicians Over Their Music

From Springsteen vs. Reagan to Neil Young vs. the Donald

Brian May vs. Donald Trump
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Brian May vs. Donald Trump

When: 2016

Song: "We Are the Champions"

Controversy: Donald Trump began using the Queen track leading up to the RNC convention, and it seems like a natural-born campaign anthem: Singer Freddie Mercury had written the track to rile up audiences. Famously, guitarist Brian May had told Mercury, "You can't do this" – fearing the song would be interpreted as arrogance – but the singer said, "Yes, we can." When "We Are the Champions" came out in 1977, it subsequently became a sports anthem, but the song has had a dodgy history with election bids. Republican Pat Buchanan used it in 1992, a year after Mercury died of pneumonia brought on by AIDS, and Republican Mitt Romney did the same in 2012. While conservative politics in particular don't seem to jibe with the fact that Mercury was gay, the group doesn't want to be associated with politics at all. In the case of Trump, May wrote a scathing post on his website: "I can confirm that permission to use the track was neither sought nor given. … Regardless of our views on Mr. Trump's platform, it has always been against our policy to allow Queen music to be used as a political campaigning tool." In a post to a concerned fan, he described Trump's campaign as "unsavory."

Result: Trump used the song anyway when he walked onstage at the Republican National Convention, sparking ire online both about his defiance of May and the culture clash between his platforms and Mercury's lifestyle. Queen replied the next day with a tweet, this time from the band as a whole: "An unauthorised use at the Republican Convention against our wishes – Queen."

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