Over the years, we have taken notice of the many TV ads that have liberally used Classic Rock music as their soundtracks. That phenomenon rolls on as advertisers and marketers regularly integrate songs guaranteed to connect with and engage consumers of all ages. When media buyers resist buying Classic Rock radio because of claims the music is old and stale, it's a simple matter of going down the hall and asking the creative team why they continue to liberally feature these songs in ad after ad.
Last month, we blogged about Classic Rock's “Power of Now” – how the genre has continued to be make headlines and stay top-of-mind – in spite of today's megawatt pop music icons. The new animated hit, “The Secret Life Of Pets,” features the Stones' “Sympathy For The Devil,” yet another example of the format's biggest hits continuing to support major brands.
But since the '90s, Classic Rock has also made its way into the political spectrum. Perhaps the best-known connection was the '92 Bill Clinton campaign featuring Fleetwood Mac's “Don't Stop.” The story behind how that song became synonymous with Clinton' run for the White House is an interesting one. Before announcing his candidacy, Clinton was in a cab when “Don't Stop” came on the radio. He asked the cabbie the name of the song, the driver told him, and then suggested that if he ever run for President, it would make a great theme song. Fleetwood Mac embraced the connection, and played “Don't Stop” live at Clinton's Inaugural Ball in that next January.
Now fast-forward to last week, and Classic Rock was heard all over the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. There was Donald Trump's dramatic entrance on the first night of the Republican convention with “We Are The Champions” providing the soundtrack:
But it didn't stop there. Just as baseball players choose their “walk-up songs,” Ivanka Trump captivated the stage last Thursday, creating one of the brightest moments of the convention. Her choice? The Beatles' “Here Comes The Sun,” a positive, upbeat song that symbolized the way in which she wished to be perceived by the crowd and the millions watching at home.
And it went on. At different points throughout the week, convention goers heard David Bowie and the Turtles as well. There was something of a controversy about this mix of Classic Rock and politics. Unlike Fleetwood Mac who embraced the use of their music by the Bill Clinton campaign, Queen's Brian May (as well as Sony) pointed out that his “unauthorized use” of the band's anthem was “against our wishes.”
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The estate of Beatle George Harrison took to Twitter to voice their dissatisfaction:
Not to be outdone, the Turtles' Howard Kaylan also expressed displeasure at the use of “Happy Together,” which played after “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Pledge Of Allegiance” to kick off the convention.
And then there's the most classic music of all – opera. The New York Times reports the late Luciano Pavarotti is up in arms about the Trump campaign's use of his famous aria, “Nessun Dorma,” used liberally at the Donald's political rallies. (I wonder how that song tests.)
All of this makes you wonder if SoundExchange shouldn't shift its focus to the political arena in order to collect royalties from these well-funded political campaigns and PACs.
What music will we hear in Philadelphia this week as the Democrats gather to try and trump Trump? Last night, Paul Simon performed “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” live, and perhaps that song was a metaphor for the Dems' unity issues going into the evening. At other points, the Beatles' “Come Together” and AC/DC's “You Shook Me” were used as “walk-up songs.”
Whether the campaigns are using these big hits with the approval of the artists – or not – the bottom line is that Classic Rock songs are the glue that connect generations on both sides of the aisle.
While the Republicans and Democrats agree on virtually nothing these days, there's no “gridlock” about Classic Rock. Many campaign promises were made at the GOP event in Cleveland, while very different ones will be made in Philly this week leaving voters to decide who's got the goods.
But one thing you can bet on is that the soundtrack for both parties will be Classic Rock.