Donald Trump ended his speech at the Republican National Convention last week by playing the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” without the permission of the band. “The Rolling Stones do not endorse Donald Trump,” the band said in a statement, the second time this year the group has come out against Trump using their music on his campaign stops.
If only this were an anomaly. As John Oliver underscored during Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, artists have been feuding with politicians on this point for decades — from Ronald Reagan’s use of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” during the 1984 presidential election to now. (Other artists to demand Trump avoid their songs: Adele, Neil Young, Steven Tyler.)
What’s a musician to do? Band together with other like-minded singers to perform a track about this very issue. Called “Don’t Use Our Songs,” the fake single made its debut on Last Week Tonight, featuring the vocal talents of Usher, Michael Bolton, Josh Groban, Sheryl Crow, John Mellencamp, Dan Reynolds, Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson from Heart, Cyndi Lauper, and Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds.
“By the time this tune is through, you’ll be lucky if we don’t sue,” Bolton sings during the chorus.
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Adds Groban later, during a part about licensing fees: “If I wanted to sing and not get paid, I’d be on Spotify.”
Watch the full-throated denouncement of campaign songs played without permission below.