The uneasy marriage of pop and politics


The uneasy marriage of pop and politics

Political protest has provided fertile material for some of the most famous songs ever. But trying to connect to voters through music can badly backfire.

CCTV America’s Owen Fairclough reports.

Music and politics are closely entwined. Marvin Gaye is one of Washington’s famous musicians. His song “What’s Going On” was considered a hugely influential statement about racial conflict in the U.S. in the 1970s.

But Greg Harris, CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, doesn’t believe musicians and politicians mix well. His prime example is “Born in the USA,”a song by Bruce Springsteen.

“It sounds like a very strong nationalist chorus, but then you listen to the content and it is more of an indictment of people coming home from Vietnam and not having the opportunity,” Harris said. “And whoever selected that song for Ronald Reagan to use as a campaign song clearly misunderstood the lyrics.”

“If you are an artist like Fleetwood Mac, who appreciate the politician, you might even perform with them as Stevie Wonder did with Barack Obama back in 2008,” Kip Cornell, adjunct professor of music at George Washington University, said. “If you are politically opposed to what is going on, you want that message to say ‘I am not endorsing this. I can’t stop it, but my politically and socio-economic agenda is not in line with this politician.'”

Though Republicans claim Trump was entitled to play Queen’s “We are the Champions” at the RNC because they paid public broadcast royalties, the U.S. music publishing association said he could still be sued under false endorsement legislation.