I saw this coming. Last night after John McCain's GOP convention speech, the hall was blasted with the sounds of Seattle band Heart's rocker "Barracuda," which became the convention's theme music for Sarah "Barracuda" Palin (Barracuda was a high-school nickname). I figured an objection would be raised.
It has been. The Wilsons have asked the McCain campaign to stop using the song. "We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored," they said in a statement, according to TMZ. One reason could be that the sisters' political persuasion runs in a different direction. I remember them warming up the crowd for Bill Clinton at the Pike Place Market back in the '90s.
Rock songs used in campaigns have been controversial this season. John Mellencamp asked McCain to stop playing his songs, like "Our Country," at rallies earlier this year. McCain agreed. I can see why campaigns do this: rock anthems and pop and country songs can create mood and glow and even help define candidates, sometimes with unintended consequences.
I was amazed at the level of narcissism displayed by Joe Lieberman during his GOP convention speech. ("Thank you so very much for that warm welcome. You'd have to be me to know how much I appreciate it.") I commented on this to a guy who had volunteered for Lieberman during one of his Connecticut Senate campaigns, and he told me that Lieberman's self-love runs deep. His campaign song of choice: Sinatra's "My Way."
Campaign rock is designed to make a political statement, and there's an implied endorsement on the part of the artist — that's the subliminal effect, anyway. I don't blame bands and singers for getting pissed off. At the very least, they ought to get paid the same way they get big bucks for providing soundtracks for commercials. Presidential campaigns are multimillion-dollar efforts to brand and move product. There would be money in it for the bands and a degree of ambiguity. You'd never know if a tune expressed the artist's politics, or if it was simply a way to fill the bank account.