R.E.M. has a major beef with two outspoken GOP politicians using their music — namely Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. And the iconic band isn’t pulling any punches.
“Go f–k yourselves, the lot of you — you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry little men,” R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe wrote via bassist Mike Mills’ Twitter account. “Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.”
The harsh words came after Trump and Cruz played R.E.M.’s 1987 hit It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) as an opening song during a rally criticizing President Obama’s recent nuclear deal with Iraq yesterday afternoon.
It’s certainly not the first time a musician has publicly lashed out at Trump for using their music. When Trump used Neil Young’s Rockin’ in the Free World at his presidential nomination earlier this summer, the musician called out Trump for using his music without authorization. In response, the Republican presidential candidate agreed not to use Young’s music again — and apparently simply moved on down the line to another high-profile group of liberal rockers.
“We won’t be using it again,” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said to Rolling Stone in regards to Young’s rebuke. “There are plenty of other songs to choose from, despite the fact that Mr. Trump is a big fan and likes Neil very much. We will respect his wish and not use it because it’s the right thing to do.”
While we suspect that Trump’s team will have a similar response to Stipe, the R.E.M. frontman may have the right to sue. “If an artist does not want his or her music to be associated with the campaign, he or she may be able to take legal action even if the campaign has the appropriate copyright licenses,” said performing rights organization American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) on its website.
Regardless of what happens, R.E.M. notes in an official statement that we should be worried about bigger issues than the music being played at political events. “The media and the American voter should focus on the bigger picture, and not allow grandstanding politicians to distract us from the pressing issues of the day and of the current Presidential campaign.”