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All the ways in which musicians are clashing wildly with the Republican National Convention

Reuters/Brian Snyder
Marching bands may be happy with Trump, but professional artists aren’t.
By Amy X. Wang
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

“Spectacle” would be one of the politer words to use in describing the Republican National Convention taking place in Cleveland this week. The convention has thus far been a flurry of protestsplagiarism scandals, and straight-up satire—and while some Americans are embracing the absurdity, others are trying to make their disapproval abundantly clear.

That especially holds true for one group: musicians unwillingly brought into the hullabaloo. Here’s a short list of artists who’ve already clashed with the GOP this week.


Donald Trump made his stage entrance at the convention Monday night in typical dramatic style, silhouetting himself against bright lights and sauntering forward to the microphone to the tune of Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”

The surviving members of Queen were less than flattered, proclaiming on Twitter that they disapproved of Trump’s “unauthorized use” of the song “against our wishes.” The complaint likely has no legal ground—music licensing for big artists is handled by their performing rights organization, not by the bands themselves, and a convention spokesman said the necessary permissions had been secured—but Queen fans were quick to back the band up in declaring disappointment.

Queen joins a host of other musicians disgruntled at their music being used by the Republican Party, including the Turtles, R.E.M., and Neil Young.

John Legend

The plagiarism in Melania Trump’s headlining speech (from a Democratic convention address given by none other than Michelle Obama) had the Trump camp issuing all manner of denial. One convention strategist claimed that Trump simply used “common phrases” that also appeared in many other forms of media in the past—such as songs by Kid Rock, House of Pain, and John Legend. Legend was apparently rattled enough to issue a public disavowal.

Third Eye Blind

Perhaps the most impressive display of anarchy this week came from Third Eye Blind, which played a charity show at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Tuesday night. The show—unaffiliated with the convention, but close enough in location that its audience was jam-packed with convention-goers—was filled with jibes at the Republican Party. Third Eye Blind refrained from playing any of its hit songs, except one: “Jumper,” which is about the suicide of lead singer Stephen Jenkins’ gay friend.

“Raise your hand if you believe in science,” Jenkins shouted at the crowd at another point. When a concert-goer expressed her disappointment on Twitter, the band had one smug response: “Good.”

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