February 3rd, 2012
10:48 AM ET
Perhaps Mitt Romney’s campaign used “Wavin’ Flag” at the Florida primary victory party to show the candidate’s patriotic side, but K’Naan, the rapper behind it, is certainly not happy.
The Somali-Canadian artist said he was “dismayed” that he had not been asked for permission, and threatened to sue.
“If I had been asked, I would certainly not have granted it,” K'Naan said in a statement. “I would happily grant the Obama campaign use of my song without prejudice.”
The GOP presidential candidate’s team complied, telling CNN in a statement that they would stop playing the track.
But having a motivating, popular campaign song is one way to connect with voters and supporters, and it's been something of a tradition for presidential campaigns of the past. Here are some other well-known songs that were used by Democratic and Republican candidates:
Franklin D. Roosevelt - “Happy Days Are Here Again”
After this song appeared in the 1930 film “Chasing Rainbows,” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s political advisers used “Happy Days Are Here Again” before one of his speeches in 1932. “Happy Days” is also considered to be one of the theme songs for the Democratic Party.
In Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes,” he sings that an ant “has high hopes/He’s got high apple pie in the sky hopes.” But for John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign, Sinatra and Broadway composer Sammy Cahn changed the chorus to “Jack is on the right track/‘Cause he’s got high hopes/1960 is the year for his high hopes.”
Ronald Reagan - "Born in the U.S.A."
When Ronald Reagan called Bruce Springsteen’s music as “a message of hope” and played “Born in the U.S.A.” during his re-election campaign, many were shocked. Springsteen himself was not pleased, and responded negatively to Reagan using his work.
Bill Clinton - “Don’t Stop”
Bill Clinton first used “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac during the 1992 Democratic National Convention while on the campaign trail, and has also used it during his 2004 and 2008 appearances. He was even able to convince the disbanded group to perform during his 1993 inaugural ball, which you can see below.
George W. Bush - “I Won’t Back Down”
For his 2000 campaign, George W. Bush used Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” but had to immediately stop when he received a cease and desist letter from Petty’s publishers. In fact, the singer made his political affiliation clear by performing for Bush’s opponent, Al Gore, instead.
Sarah Palin - “Barracuda”
Sarah Palin was referred to as “Sarah Barracuda” when she played basketball in high school, so it would make sense for the song “Barracuda” to be played during her vice president campaign in 2008. But the rock band Heart sent a cease and desist letter to the John McCain-Palin camp and “condemned” the song use.
Barack Obama - "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)"
Apart from having an original song - “Yes We Can” by Will.i.am - President Barack Obama also played popular hits like Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” during his 2008 campaign. Wonder performed the song live at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and at Obama’s 2009 neighborhood inaugural ball.
Hillary Clinton- "You and I"
In 2007, Hillary Clinton launched a web campaign asking her supporters to select her campaign theme song. The result? Celine Dion’s “You and I.”
Newt Gingrich - "Eye of the Tiger"
Newt Gingrich has been playing “Eye of the Tiger” for the past three years at the Conservative Political Action Conference, as well as during his campaign for nomination this year. In January, the song’s composer, Frank Sullivan, sued the GOP candidate. Here’s a clip of Gingrich’s entrance at CPAC 2011 with the song, which was the anthem for the movie “Rocky III.”
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