Who Are Musicians Supporting in the 2020 Democratic Primary? - Rolling Stone
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Who Are Musicians Supporting in the 2020 Democratic Primary?

Acts from Ariana Grande and Vampire Weekend to John Legend and David Crosby have made their endorsements as the race heats up

Bernie Sanders & Joe BidenBernie Sanders & Joe Biden

Matt Baron/Shutterstock, Butch Dill/AP/Shutterstock

In November 2019, Ariana Grande posted a photo with Bernie Sanders, exclaiming “MY GUY,” while telling her fans that she promised to “never smile this hard again.” Just like that, the most important part of the 2020 Democratic race had officially begun: the musicians’ primary. Some stars have performed at rallies, supporting their candidates of choice with a Bob Dylan cover (or two), while others have used social media to make their endorsements known. Here are the most notable musical endorsements for each major candidate.

Bernie Sanders

Cardi B
The rapper interviewed Sanders in Detroit last year, raising issues including racism, the minimum wage, and immigration. “Don’t you ever feel scared that these people that run drug companies and schools — you know it’s all a business — are you scared that you will get so many powerful people upset?” The candidate laughed and replied, “Cardi, that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life.”

The Strokes
Julian Casablancas previously felt the Bern in the 2016 primary, and now the Strokes frontman has voiced his continuing support for 2020. The band joined Sanders in Durham, New Hampshire, on February 10th, to perform at a rally on the eve of his victory in the state’s primary. “He’s the only noncorporate candidate,” Casablancas told Rolling Stone, “so by default, he’s the only person who you can trust what he’s saying.”

Public Enemy
Public Enemy Radio — an iteration of the trailblazing hip-hop group including Chuck D, the S1Ws, and others — performed along Dick Van Dyke and Sarah Silverman at a Sanders rally in Los Angeles on March 1st, ahead of California’s primary vote. (Notably absent: Flavor Flav, who was fired from Public Enemy just before the event.)  “The time is now!” Chuck D wrote on his Instagram. “FIGHT THE POWER!”

Jack White
Last fall, White returned to his high school in Detroit to perform at a Sanders rally. Onstage at Cass Technical High School, the rocker tore through White Stripes classics like “Black Math” and “Seven Nation Army,” as well as Bob Dylan’s “License to Kill” from 1983’s Infidels. “Bernie Sanders is telling the truth, and I really do trust him,” White told the crowd.

Ariana Grande
Late last year, the pop star evidently endorsed the candidate by posting photos with him on Twitter: “Thank you Senator Sanders for coming to my show, making my whole night and for all that you stand for!”

Bernie Sanders

Photo by Matt Rourke/AP/Shutterstock

Matt Rourke/AP/Shutterstock

Vampire Weekend 
The band recently performed at a Sanders rally in Iowa. Their cover of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town” was appropriate, given that they performed there in support of the candidate in 2016. “I still believe that Bernie can win and it’s brutal seeing how much energy goes into convincing voters that one of the most popular politicians in the country (and the one who polls best against Trump) is unelectable,” frontman Ezra Koenig wrote on his Instagram. “Bernie’s still the landslide favorite among people 35 and under (across racial and gender lines) so talk to your older, skeptical friends and family about why Bernie can actually win.”

Dua Lipa
The pop star took to Twitter ahead of Super Tuesday to endorse Sanders. “What happens in America doesn’t stay in America,” she wrote. “The whole world is crying out for kinder and more inclusive leadership. If you are in a Super Tuesday state, please vote for the president you all deserve. #VoteForBernie.”

The pop singer endorsed the candidate in a video via Twitter on Tuesday. “Bernie was fighting for me before I was even born, she said. “Because that’s his philosophy—fight for somebody that you don’t know.”

Bon Iver
Frontman Justin Vernon supported Vampire Weekend at the Cedar Rapids rally for Sanders, covering the title track to Dylan’s 1964 album The Times They Are a-Changin’ as well as “With God on Our Side.” In early October, the band will perform three shows in their hometown of Wisconsin in partnership with the “46 for 46” campaign, in which artists will perform at rallies in their hometown ahead of the 2020 election — whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being. You must pledge to vote in order to access pre-sale tickets.

Killer Mike
The Atlanta rapper and activist met the Vermont senator over soul food in 2015; he’d go on to campaign for the candidate a year later. He’s supporting Sanders for a second time, having recently sat down with him to discuss issues that include health care and wealth inequality.

Neil Young
Four years ago, the Canadian rocker spoke out in support of Sanders, calling him “in my opinion, the best person for the job, hands down.” This time around, Young is an American citizen, and he indicated that he’s still feeling the Bern in an angry open letter to the president: “One of your opponents has the answers I like,” he wrote. “He is aiming at preserving our children’s future directly. He is not popular with the Democratic establishment because, unlike all the other candidates, he is not pandering to the industries accelerating Earth’s Climate Crisis, the end of the world as we know it. He is truly fighting for the USA. His initials are BS. Not his policies.”

Jeff Mangum
Mangum’s wife, filmmaker Astra Taylor, tweeted on March 2nd that Mangum has officially endorsed Sanders. “Hello my friends!” the Neutral Milk Hotel frontman wrote, “Just writing to ask you to please vote for Bernie. Much love to all, Jeff Mangum.”

Soccer Mommy
Sophie Allison — the Nashville indie-rocker who performs under the moniker Soccer Mommy — performed at a Sanders rally at the University of Houston on February 23rd. “Come out and listen to some new music and support our future president!” she wrote on Twitter.

Cedric Bixler-Zavala
The Mars Volta singer took to Instagram to announce his support for Sanders (and implicitly rebuke his former bandmate Beto O’Rourke, who had just endorsed Joe Biden). Last year, Bixler-Zavala affectionately called bandmate Omar Rodríguez-López the “Puerto Rican Bernie Sanders.”

Zola Jesus
Zola Jesus — real name Nika Danilova — might be Amy Klobuchar’s cousin, but she’s made it clear she’s voting for Sanders. “I’m not fucking around with my Bernie support,” she tweeted. “He’s running against my cousin. I’m going against bloodlines for this shit!” “He’s seeing how the world can be better and he’s seeing what needs to be done,” she added in an interview with RS. “Bernie means well and means what he says.”

Vanessa Carlton
The singer-songwriter endorsed the Vermont senator in a tweet in late February, writing “Being born and raised in Pennsylvania I’d HAPPILY play ‘A Thousand Miles’ in every county in the state for you. My traveling piano is gassed up and READY. TO. GO.”

Weyes Blood
The Los Angeles singer-songwriter, real name Natalie Mering, posted a photo with the candidate on her Instagram in January.

Brandi Carlile
Carlile performed at Sanders’ kickoff rally in Vermont last year, even dedicating her song “The Joke” to the candidate.

In Rolling Stone‘s first-ever standalone digital cover story, Grimes told senior writer Brian Hiatt she’s supporting Sanders. “When I look at the aims of my boyfriend [Elon Musk] and I look at the aims of Bernie, like, their end goals are very similar,” she says. “Fix environmental problems, reduce suffering. It’s worth dissecting the wealth gap, it’s worth dissecting the existence of billionaires, but situations have nuance.”

Kim Gordon
The singer and ex-Sonic Youth bassist has been using her Instagram to throw her support behind Sanders, including posting a photo of herself with the senator, her daughter Coco, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Yo! California! The primary is March 3rd and vote-by-mail ballots drop Monday!!” she wrote in another post. “Bernie supporters need to get out & knock doors, this primary is critical!”

The rapper praised Sanders while on The View last year. “Right now, the only person I see who has a base that’s strong enough to oppose [Trump] is Bernie,” he said. “Biden’s got bigger numbers but Bernie’s base is more passionate. He’s the complete antithesis of what Trump represents.”

Sunflower Bean
The New York rock band called performing at a Sanders rally in Keene, New Hampshire, on February 9th “the honor of our career.” Two days later, they also joined the Strokes at a Sanders rally in Durham, New Hampshire. “This is the campaign that has the energy of the youth,” singer-bassist Julia Cumming told Rolling Stone. “In indie music, we’re not big rock stars living in mansions. We do what we do because we’re in the pursuit of our own truth.”

Beach Bunny
“I’m stepping down from the presidential campaign to support my good friend Senator Sanders,” the Chicago band wrote on Twitter. “Go out and vote! Your vote is so important for the future of this country.”

Lil Yachty
Lil Yachty, real name Miles McCollum, previously voiced his support for Sanders in 2016. When the candidate announced his campaign for the 2020 election, the Atlanta rapper quoted the tweet and said “Let’s gooooooo.”

Béla Fleck
The banjo player joined Sanders at two rallies in Massachusetts on February 28th and 29th.

Frankie Cosmos
Frontwoman Greta Kline contributed the song “Moon Beam” (under the moniker Lexie) to a compilation titled Bernie Speaks with the Community. Assembled by Portland, Oregon, band Stranger Ranger, the album also features indie rockers Jay Som and Mannequin Pussy’s Marisa Dabice.

Sheer Mag
After Sanders played the Philly punks’ protest anthem “Expect the Bayonet” at a rally in Queens last fall, the band responded with support for the candidate: “We believe that he is the best hope in generations for the left,” they said in a statement to Pitchfork, “and the only viable candidate to beat Trump in 2020.”

Boots Riley
The Coup rapper and Sorry to Bother You writer-director officially endorsed the Vermont senator in an extensive thread of tweets. “I have never voted for a candidate in my life,” he admitted. “But I will be voting for Bernie Sanders in the democratic primary and the general election. If I’m doing that, there are probably tens of millions in that same position.”

Joe Biden

Cher believes in life after Trump, especially if it’s with Joe Biden. She endorsed the former Vice President in a series of tweets on March 2nd, noting “I know he’s tough, knew in my heart. He’s the right Man for this time, even before the epidemic. Wish President Obama could come out now and support you, know he believes in you. It’s a HARD CLIMB UP Joe, but you need you to fight like our lives depend on it, they do.” She then followed with a his name adorned by a simple ghost emoji, then with “Joe said something to me 20 years ago that I’ve never forgotten. I will stick by his side forever.”


Joe Biden

Photo by Shutterstock




Former Candidates

Elizabeth Warren (Update: Warren’s campaign ended on March 5th.)

John Legend
In an interview with Vanity Fair last fall, Legend chose Warren as his favorite candidate. “She’s the best candidate running today and she comes at it with joy and with sincerity and with a wealth of knowledge and experience,” the singer said. “You see someone as transparently competent and eloquent and on fire as Elizabeth Warren and then you hear some guys just are not into voting for a woman. Why do guys feel so threatened by the idea of a woman president?” Legend appeared at two Warren rallies in Orangeburg and Charleston, South Carolina, ahead of the state’s primary.

Jack Black
The musician and actor officially endorsed the Massachusetts senator via Twitter in February, hashtagging #WarrenTime. He also announced a “Swing State” tour with his band Tenacious D, not tied to any candidate. “Donald Trump has proven to be the most divisive, corrupt and dangerous President in the modern history of this country,” they said in a statement, “and we simply cannot stand for another four years of his administration! Now is the time to elect a REAL leader!”

Patterson Hood
The Drive-By Truckers singer took to Twitter to endorse Warren. “When all is said and done, my absolute first voice is Elizabeth Warren,” he wrote. “I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I know what my heart tells me the loudest. I’ll vote for whoever gets the nomination and work my ass off to help in any way possible to stop the madness.”

Mike Bloomberg (Update: Bloomberg’s campaign ended on March 4th.)

John Mellencamp
“In small town America, dreams hold fast,” the heartland rocker said in a promotional video for the former New York City mayor. “But good jobs seem like a thing of the past, and more and more of our kids have to leave in search of opportunity, making small towns…smaller.”

Pete Buttigieg (Update: Buttigieg’s campaign ended on March 1st.)

David Crosby
It’s no surprise that Croz has been extremely open about who he’s supporting in the primary. He’s tweeted about the candidate several times, and went into further detail while promoting his Cameron Crowe-produced documentary David Crosby: Remember My Name. “He’s the smartest man I’ve ever seen in politics ever,” he said. “He’s brilliant, and he’s honest, and he’s dedicated, and he’s brave. Do you know how much guts it takes to go in the military when you’re gay? Volunteer and go because you think you ought to, you don’t want to be a privileged guy and get excused? Do you know what kind of morals it takes to do that?”

When Buttigieg dropped out of the race on March 1st, Croz claimed he voted for Sanders. “Instead of doing what the pundits say, I voted my conscience,” he tweeted. “I voted for Bernie.”

Mandy Moore
The singer and actress recently voiced her support for the former mayor. “I don’t usually get involved in politics,” she tweeted, momentarily disappointing Chasing Liberty fans across America. “But Pete Buttigieg is just so inspiring, and he’s the person America needs as president right now.”

Tom Steyer (Update: Steyer’s campaign ended on February 29th.)

Steyer may not have qualified for the primary debate in Las Vegas, but he officially has a celebrity endorsement: TLC. The R&B trio performed at the activist billionaire’s rally ahead of the Nevada caucus in February.

Andrew Yang (Update: Yang’s campaign ended on February 11th.)

Childish Gambino
Gambino, a.k.a. Donald Glover, became Yang’s “creative consultant” back in December, helping launch a pop-up store in Los Angeles ahead of the Democratic debate that week at Loyola Marymount University.


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