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When Bands Boycott – 12 Musicians Who Rebelled Against Corporations, Countries And More

As anyone who’s ever been on the wrong end of an Azealia Banks tweet, rapped near Noel Gallagher or eaten a Peperami in the presence of Morrissey will know, a few damning words from a pop star can be devastating. Add this to the rabid and often bloodthirsty devotion of the One Directioners, and you have the perfect storm of commercial destruction, as SeaWorld found when Harry Styles suggested from the stage in San Diego back in July that fans that like dolphins should stay away from the aquatic theme park. Cue a huge increase in online criticism of the chain – already up against the ropes in the wake of Blackfish – allied to an 84 per cent drop in profits compared to the same period in 2014. Boom – another classic pop boycott strikes its vengeful blow for righteousness, like Thor joining PETA. Not all pop boycotts have had such an impact though. Here’s the best and worst…

  • Kasabian vs Starbucks: When governments are turning a blind eye to the alleged multi-billion-dollar tax avoiding tricks of Starbucks, who's going to force them to stump up? Serge from Kasabian, that’s who. “With the whole Starbucks tax-evasion thing, if we all got together and said, 'Right, no one go to Starbucks,' it would only take a week to destroy a company," he said in 2014.

    Photo: Getty & EdMiles /NME

    Added: 03 Sep 2015

  • Miley Cyrus vs Abercrombie & Fitch: When Abercrombie’s CEO Mike Jeffries defended his company’s decision to stop stocking women’s clothes larger than size 10 because “a lot of people don’t belong in our clothes, and they can’t belong”, Cyrus joined a chorus of objection by promising to burn all of her A&F clothes.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 03 Sep 2015

  • Pink vs Instagram: These days we’ll happily click ‘accept’ on iTunes small print that allows them to force-feed us U2 against our will, but back in 2012 Pink stood up against Instagram when they underhandedly changed their terms to allow them to sell pictures posted on the site without paying the poster. By the end of the same day, Instagram had removed the offending clause.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 04 Sep 2015

  • Taylor Swift vs Apple Music: So one of the richest companies in the world decides it won’t pay artists for streaming their music during a three-month free trial. Not cool. Taylor Swift, however, fought back, removing her new album ‘1989’ from the service and blogging “we don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 22 Jun 2015

  • Elton John vs Dolce & Gabbana: After voicing their objections to same-sex marriage, Dolce & Gabbana then went even further. “I’m not convinced by those I call the children of chemicals, synthetic children,” said Dolce on the topic of IVF. Elton John, who has two IVF children with husband David Furnish, hit back, concluding “I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again."

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 04 Sep 2015

  • Kanye West vs Louis Vuitton: In 2013 Kanye requested during a radio interview that nobody in New York should buy Louis Vuitton products for the Christmas period. Why? “While I was out in Paris I wanted to meet with the head of Louis Vuitton, he said I don't understand why we need to meet with you.” Heathens! Cast them into the sea!

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 07 Sep 2015

  • Jay-Z vs Cristal: “We can't forbid people from buying it,” said Cristal managing director Frederic Rouzaud when asked if the brand’s rap connections were detrimental. “I'm sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business." Calling the comments “racist”, Jay pulled Cristal from all of his 40/40 bars and vowed never to drink the stuff again.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 04 Sep 2015

  • Morrissey vs Canada: Unlike all of the cultural boycotters, Morrissey was happy to play in Tel Aviv, waving an Israeli flag around onstage and stating “there is no point punishing a nation for something the leader does or says". But he drew the line at playing in Canada due to their annual seal hunt. "Please boycott Canadian goods,” Moz wrote, “It WILL make a difference."

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 03 Sep 2015

  • Music vs Israel: Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Brian Eno were among the first to support a cultural boycott of Israel in protest of the country’s treatment of Palestine, which some likened to the similar boycott of South Africa during apartheid. The boycott has since been upheld by a plethora of musicians, including Lauryn Hill, Pixies, Faithless, Stevie Wonder, Leftfield and many more.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 03 Sep 2015

  • Ellie Goulding vs Putin: In the wake of the Pussy Riot arrests and new legislation making it illegal to teach under-18s about homosexuality in Russia, calls for a boycott have been rising, with Cher and Stephen Fry leading the charge. Ellie Goulding entered the fray last January, declaring “it’s probably a ‘no’ for Russia”.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 04 Sep 2015

  • Willie Nelson vs a winery: Heaven knows we’ve all boycotted the odd Wetherspoons over the quality of their house plonk, but a whole winery? Yet that’s what Willie Nelson, and later Kenny Loggins, both did when they pulled out of shows at the Chateau Ste Michelle in Washington state in 1994 in support of the United Farm Worker’s strike on the vineyard.

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 04 Sep 2015

  • Liam Gallagher vs himself: Few acts demand that their fans boycott their own products, but Liam Gallagher managed it last year when he objected to the 20th anniversary remaster of ‘Definitely Maybe’. “HOW CAN YOU REMASTER SOMETHING THATS ALREADY [BEEN] MASTERED,” he tweeted in angry caps. “DONT BUY INTO IT. LET IT BE.”

    Photo: Getty

    Added: 04 Sep 2015