Political campaigns often adopt popular songs to use as rally cries. But what happens when an artist’s political leanings don’t exactly line up with the candidate using their song? In 2008, Michelle Bachmann received a cease and desist letter from Tom Petty after he learned that she was using his 1977 hit “American Girl” at campaign stops. Both the Foo Fighters and John Mellencamp issued similar letters to Republican candidate John McCain when he used their music at political rallies without their consent.
According to Big Hassle, the public relations firm representing Silversun Pickups, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has, without permission, begun to use Silversun Pickups’ 2009 smash “Panic Switch” at campaign stops across the country. Neither the band nor its representatives were contacted to gain permission for the use of the song, and the band has no intention of endorsing the Romney campaign.
“We don’t like people going behind our backs, using our music without asking, and we don’t like the Romney campaign,” said Silversun Pickups lead singer/guitarist Brian Aubert. “We’re nice, approachable people. We won’t bite. Unless you’re Mitt Romney! We were very close to just letting this go because the irony was too good. While he is inadvertently playing a song that describes his whole campaign, we doubt that ‘Panic Switch’ really sends the message he intends.”
Ironically, the Romney campaign took the time to ask Kid Rock for permission to use his song “Born Free” first before playing it at rallies.
— Jay Tilles / Scott Sterling, CBS Local