The Village People had a pointed response to “bully” ex-president Donald Trump playing their song “Y.M.C.A.” one more time against their wishes at his sparsely attended farewell event at Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday (Jan. 20).
For years Trump ignored pleas from a long list of famous acts to cease and desist from using their music during his rallies and political events, but he did it one more time in his final address, blasting the Village People’s iconic 1978 disco song.
“We have no ill will towards the president, but we asked him to cease and desist long ago,” reads a statement from the group to Billboard. “However, since he’s a bully, our request was ignored. Thankfully he’s now out of office, so it would seem his abusive use of our music has finally ended. We hope to spearhead a change in copyright law that will give artists and publishers more control over who can and cannot use our music in the public space. Currently there is no limit to blanket licensing.”
Another artist who took issue with Trump flouting the wishes of a musician not interested in being associated with his divisive policies and pronouncements was the legacy manager for Laura Branigan, who once again criticized the former reality show host for playing her client’s signature song “Gloria” at the tarmac gathering.
“It was both sad and upsetting to see Laura’s memory and ‘Gloria’ become an unwilling participant in the Trump video earlier this month on one of the darkest days in U.S. history,” Kathy Golik tells Billboard, referencing the song being played by Trump’s team inside a tent just before the violent riot by his supporters ahead of their attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, with members of his family seen dancing to the track; the riot resulted in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer who died from injuries suffered in a clash with the angry mob. “It was very disheartening to see such an iconic song be associated in any way, shape, or form with acts of violence. No endorsement was ever given to Trump, nor permission for use of ‘Gloria’ granted, on behalf of Laura Branigan, or her legacy management company, Other Half Entertainment.
“As far as Trump’s use of “Gloria” during his farewell [speech], I can’t say that it surprised me, as he continues to use music from various artists without their direct consent, and of course, I am not happy about that,” Golik adds. “‘Gloria’ is a great, energetic anthem that for decades has evoked many good feelings, memories of times and places, etc. for so many across the globe, and that’s the association that Laura would want, and that I do as her legacy manager. It’s about not giving the power to those who do not deserve it, to change all the good that people have always felt about ‘Gloria’ – to take the song back and restore it, and in turn, Laura’s legacy, once again.”
Trump was sued several times by artists who objected to his use of their music at his rallies, including by Neil Young and Eddy Grant, whose 1983 hit “Electric Avenue” was the soundtrack to a bizarre Trump campaign video last year. In November, the notoriously litigious real-estate mogul’s lawyers filed for a dismissal of the copyright infringement case brought by Grant by arguing that their use of the track in an animated campaign video mocking Joe Biden was covered by fair use provisions.
Over the past five years, artists from Adele to Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, R.E.M., Aerosmith, Panic! at the Disco, Guns N’ Roses, The Rolling Stones, Rihanna and the estates of Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty and Prince have vociferously objected to Trump playing their music at his rallies.