Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images News
The Silversun Pickups are no fans of Mitt Romney. The band sent a cease-and-desist order to the GOP hopeful’s campaign on Wednesday over the use of its song “Panic Switch” at events, and released a statement slamming the candidate. “We don't like people going behind our backs, using our music without asking, and we don't like the Romney campaign," wrote the band’s frontman Brian Aubert. Ouch!
The band further stated what it considered to be the irony of the campaign’s use of the song -- even going so far as to say the band members almost let the unauthorized usage go without comment out of the head-shaking humor behind Romney “inadvertently playing a song that describes his whole campaign."
Lyrics from the song go this way: “When you see yourself in a crowded room/ Do your fingers itch, are you pistol-whipped?/ Will you step in line or release the glitch?/ Can you fall asleep with a panic switch?”
Later, the campaign said that while it did not ask permission to use the song, it was legally permitted to play it under a "blanket licensing agreement." Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul further wrote in a widely published email that the campaign would no longer use "Panic Switch” -- not surprisingly given the unnecessary distraction from its intended political messaging.
Of course, the Romney camp wouldn’t be the first campaign to get involved with such music-related controversies. And while those skirmishes fall on both sides of the party lines, it’s historically been left-leaning musicians who opposed Republican candidates’ choices.
Recently, Tom Petty objected to Michele Bachmann’s use of his “American Girl.” Sam Moore of Sam & Dave requested that Obama’s campaign not use “Hold On, I’m Comin’” as part of its 2008 campaign rallies. And Heart was furious over the use of its “Barracuda,” which John McCain used to introduce Sarah Palin at the 2008 Republican National Convention (it was the VP hopeful’s high school nickname). Huffington Post has a slide show with video clips of these and more dubious usages -- mostly perpetrated by Republican candidates.
Although the moment was perhaps an embarrassment for Romney, you might say it was a great PR opportunity for the band. According to commenter Basselope on Huffington Post, “Today shall now be known as Silversun Pickups appreciation day. Despite the fact I already have the new CD on Rhapsody, I will go out and purchase a hard copy!”
Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and iVillage’s Chief Election News Blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.