7 Musicians Who Opposed Donald Trump’s Use of Their Songs

todayOctober 28, 2023 1

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Since Donald Trump first ran for president in 2015, he has played pop songs at his rallies and campaign events. But many of the artists whose music he plays have spoken out against the former president, who is currently seeking the Republican presidential nomination even while facing 91 felony counts in four criminal cases, as well as a civil fraud trial.

While the musicians have very little recourse to make Trump stop using their songs due to the campaign’s purchasing of licenses from music publishing companies, many of them have asked him to knock it off — and usually not nicely. Here are seven of them.  

1. Adele


Adele said goodbye to Donald Trump from the other side (of the aisle) when he used her songs “Rolling in the Deep” and “Skyfall” at his rallies in 2016. Adele’s spokesman issued a statement that the singer had not granted her permission for her music to be used for any political campaign purposes. When Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton attended an Adele show in Miami on her 69th birthday, the singer endorsed her and dissed Trump from the stage. Trump then criticized Clinton for taking time off from campaigning to go to the show, not mentioning that he, too, attended an Adele concert during his campaign.

2. Elton John

Elton John

In 2016, Elton John’s publicist issued a statement saying that any use of the piano man’s songs by the Trump campaign was not sanctioned. “I don’t really want my music to be involved in anything to do with an American election campaign. I’m British,” John later explained. “I’ve met Donald Trump, he was very nice to me. It’s nothing personal. His political views are his own. Mine are very different; I’m not a Republican in a million years. Why not ask Ted f—ing Nugent? Or one of those f—ing country stars? They’ll do it for you.” Trump continued to use John’s music — “Tiny Dancer” was playing when he learned of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — but John had the last laugh, performing for Joe Biden at the White House after declining to perform at Trump’s inauguration.

3. Nickelback 


Meme-friendly Canadian rockers Nickelback are one of the only acts to successfully get Trump to stop using their music. In 2019, Trump tweeted a meme video about Hunter Biden that used Nickelback’s song “Photograph,” and the band’s label Warner Music Group filed a copyright claim and got the video taken down. It wasn’t a partisan political statement, though; members of Nickelback later explained that they don’t want their music being used for political purposes on either side of the aisle, and had shut down a left-wing version of the meme, too. “We shut down everybody evenly,” guitarist Ryan Peake said. “How about that? This is a blanket shutdown.” Meanwhile, Trump’s tweet stands to this day, with an empty box that says “This media has been disabled in response to a report by the copyright owner” where the video used to be. 

4. Panic! At the Disco 

Panic! At the Disco

Brendon Urie, leader of the emo-pop act Panic! At the Disco, had a message for Donald Trump when he found out the president was using the band’s song “High Hopes” at rallies in 2020: “Dear Trump Campaign, F— you. You’re not invited. Stop playing my song. No thanks, Brendon Urie, Panic! At The Disco & company,” he tweeted. “Donald Trump represents nothing we stand for. The highest hope we have is voting this monster out in November,” he added. The song was much more closely associated with Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, whose staffers made up a dance to the song.

5. Rihanna 


In 2018, journalist Philip Rucker offhandedly tweeted from a Trump rally that Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” was playing. “Not for much longer…me nor my people would ever be at or around one of those tragic rallies, so thanks for the heads up philip!” RiRi replied. Her legal team sent Trump a cease-and-desist letter shortly thereafter. Trump might still be salty about this; in 2023 he called her Super Bowl halftime show performance the worst ever on his Truth Social site. “This after insulting far more than half of our Nation, which is already in serious DECLINE, with her foul and insulting language,” he wrote. “Also, so much for her ‘Stylist!'”

6. Village People

Village People

Donald Trump loves the Village People, as anyone who has ever seen him dance to “Macho Man” knows. But the feeling is not mutual. After years of tolerating Trump’s use of “Macho Man” and “YMCA” at rallies, in May 2023 the group’s manager sent Trump’s lawyer an informal cease-and-desist letter over a cover band that performed at Mar-a-Lago. She demanded that Trump stop using Village People’s music and likeness in order to avoid “public confusion as to endorsement.” 

7. Neil Young 

Neil Young
Neil YoungGary Miller/Getty Images for Shock Ink

Canadian rock legend Neil Young has futilely but tirelessly fought against Trump’s use of his classic song “Rockin’ in the Free World” (which is itself a bitter critique of George H. W. Bush). He has condemned Trump’s use of the song numerous times since 2015, while acknowledging that he has no legal recourse to stop him. In an open letter to Trump in 2020, the year he became an American citizen, Young called Trump “a disgrace to my country.”

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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