Donald Trump allegedly wanted The Killers, Kiss, Celine Dion or Meat Loaf to play his inauguration back in 2016. None did. Instead, artists across the board have attempted to ban Trump from using their work at campaign rallies, leaving him unedifyingly dancing the The Village People like your gross uncle at a wedding. It’s fair to say that Donald Trump is lacking big-gun endorsement in the musical department.
There have, though, been plenty of anti-Trump songs in the past four years. Seems like a good time to revisit them, no?
Le Tigre, ‘I’m With Her’
“One, two, three! Who do we want? We want HRC!” So chants Kathleen Hanna and co on this surprise pro-Hillary Clinton electro-bop. Known for championing feminism and LGBTQ issues, it’s fitting that Le Tigre‘s first new material since 2004’s ‘This Island’ was inspired by America standing on the precipice of electing either their first woman president or a man who has bragged about sexual aggression. With a video that features the trio in tribute pantsuits, it has an infectious beat that would prompt their idol to shimmy.
Death Cab For Cutie, ‘Million Dollar Loan’
Tipping their ‘Make America Great Again’ hats to an anecdote from the first Presidential debate where Donald inspirationally claimed he self-made his fortune with just a “small loan of a million dollars” from his father, Death Cab For Cutie hypnotically ram home the point that he wasn’t born with a just a silver spoon in his mouth, rather the whole damn cutlery drawer.
DJ Shadow feat. Run The Jewels, ‘Nobody Speak’
Donald Trump frequently used to crop up in rap tracks in flattering terms – as a byword for wealth and success. Not anymore. Killer Mike is one of the most potent political voices in rap, so it was only a matter of time before the real-life Scrooge McDuck got a musical hazing from Run The Jewels‘ .
Eminem, ‘Campaign Speech’
Eminem – no stranger to accusations of sexism and homophobia himself – takes aim at Trump in a eight minute tune-free freestyle. Trump supporter David Duke, former grand wizard of the KKK, got his white sheet in a twist over it, tweeting: “For years, Eminem has been poisoning the minds of our youth”. Interestingly, in 2004, Donald endorsed Eminem for President at a mock-convention…
YG and Nipsey Hussle, ‘FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)’
As subtle as the title suggests, this track sees West Coast rhyme-slingers YG and Nipsey put a target on Trump’s “racist ass”, calling him a “cancer”, declaring “I like white people but I don’t like you”, and admitting, “He got me appreciating Obama way more.”
Gorillaz, ‘Hallelujah Money’
Releasing this song the night before Trump’s inauguration, Gorillaz found the perfect time to return from their six-year hiatus with the track ‘Hallelujah Money’. Band member Murdoc wrote on his Facebook page: ‘In these dark times, we all need someone to look up to. Me, that’s why I’m giving you this new Gorillaz song, a lightning bolt of truth in the black night’. Fans of the band will know that Damon Albarn is not one to shy away from political statements so it was only a matter of time before a track like this was released.
Fiona Apple, ‘Tiny Hands’
The American singer from New York has been vocal in her opposition to the presidency of Donald Trump since he ran as a candidate. Apple put together a minute long track mocking Trump’s ‘tiny hands’ (something we hear he is very conscious about) and calls for him to refrain from doing what he said he does on the leak Access Hollywood tape. Despite being a minute long, the track is extremely catchy and will have you singing it your head for at least the next week.
Arcade Fire, ‘I Give You Power’
Their first new material in two years, Arcade Fire’s return could only have been better timed if they debuted it from a boombox, in a helicopter circling Trump’s inauguration. Released the day before the most orange bloke in politics was sworn in, ‘I Give You Power’ finds Win Butler and co. teaming up with the unparalleled Mavis Staples. “I talked to Mavis last night and she said, ‘Now more than ever we have to come together and hold onto each other,’” Butler told Beats 1’s Zane Lowe. “For us it’s a feeling of solidarity—to not feel powerless and focus on what we can do as individuals and try to do our part.”
Demi Lovato, ‘Commander in Chief’ (2020)
In which the Camp Rock graduate takes a late-in-the-day aim at the big bad who whose spent the last four years auditioning to become the ultimate Disney villain. On a track produced by Eren Cannata and Billie Eilish’s brother Finneas, she channels her sheer exasperation at the Trump era over a plaintive ballad. “Do you get off on pain?” she asks, and observes: ‘We’re in a state of crisis, people are dying while you’re lining your pockets deep’. The final line of the chorus, ‘How does it feel to still be able to breath?’ refers to both the agonizing Covid-19 death toll that’s been allowed to spiral under his administration as well as the Black Lives Matter slogan ‘I can’t breathe’.
Public Enemy, ‘State of the Union (STFU)’ (2020)
This a call-to-arms to “rock that vote or vote for hell”. Aided by Gang Starr‘s DJ Premier, Chuck D and Flava Flav’s explosive polemical aims its ire at the orange-faced “sorry ass mutherfucker” while addressing police brutality against black Americans. “Here’s another scare / Keep them hands in the air / Better not breath / You dare not dare,” raps Chuck D, hoping that the unnamed Trump’s reign will nearly be (comb) over.
AHONHI, ‘R.N.C. 2020’ (2020)
Inspired by the Republican National Convention, in June ANOHNI released this rough’n’ready protest song was accompanied by a sobering essay where she decried his plans as “a religious state straight of the Handsmaid’s Tale’. “They didn’t have to die,” the singer rails. “My friend didn’t have to die”, referring to three New Yorkers she knew who passed away in April of Covid-19, which she believes was a result of idiotic official guidance not to wear a mask.
De La Soul, ‘Remove 45’ (featuring Chuck D, Styles P, Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, Mysonne, Posdnuos) (2020)
This does-what-it-says, no-messing track sees De La Soul and guests spit bars about Trump’s attitude towards immigration, race and the police, accompanied by sampled clips of his speeches. “When it comes to this president and his administration we need to exercise our right to vote and REMOVE him from office,” De La Soul commented in a press release heralding the cut.
Keke Palmer, ‘Actually Vote’ (2020)
The ubiquitous Finneas strikes again by teaming up with Broadway’s Dear Evan Hanson-creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and Keke Palmer for this battlecry to Gen Z to “get their asses off TikTok and vote“, lest they be “stuck with the guy who says bleach cures Corona.” The message is clear: go Biden or stay home.
Neil Young, ‘Looking For A Leader’ (2020)
In August, Neil Young released ‘Looking for A Leader 2020’ . “Leaders walk among us and I hope they hear our call / Maybe it’s a woman or a black man after all,” he sings, like a soothing balm after four years of Trump seemingly believing there’s nothing so hateful or stupid that can’t be improved by saying it out loud. “Looking for a leader to bring our country home / Reunite the red white and blue before it turns to stone.” You heard the man.