CAMPAIGN SONGS: WRITE YOUR OWN OR STEAL THEM?
Since the advent of television, campaigns have used theme songs and jingles as a way to keep themselves fresh in a potential voter's memory.
One of the first well known campaign jingles was used by Eisenhower in his 1952 election. The song, "I Like Ike" was animated by Walt Disney and Eisenhower's campaign spent $1.5M on TV spots, more than 20x that of Stevenson's campaign.
"Ike for President. Ike for President. Ike for President. You like Ike, I like Ike, everybody likes Ike for President. Bring out the banners, beat the drums, we'll take Ike to Washington. We don't want John or Dean or Harry. Let's do that big job right. Let's get in step with the guy that's hep. Get in step with Ike. You like Ike, I like Ike, everybody likes Ike for president. Bring out the banners, beat the drums, we'll take Ike to Washington. We've got to get where we are going, travel day and night. Let Adlai go the other way. We'll all go with Ike. You like Ike, I like Ike, everybody likes Ike for President. Bring out the banners, beat the drums, we'll take Ike to Washington. We'll take Ike to Washington! Announcer: Now is the time for all good Americans to come to the aid of their country."
In his 1960 race with Nixon, Kennedy ran this catchy jingle to assure voters that he could be a good president in spite of being young and Catholic.
"Do you want a man for President who’s seasoned through and through, But not so dog-goned seasoned that he won’t try something new? A man who’s old enough to know, and young enough to do? Well, it’s up to you, it’s up to you, it’s strictly up to you. Do you want a man with spirit, who is not afraid to fight? A man whose record shows that he will fight for what is right? A loyal man who’d bring the job a fresh new point of view? Well, it’s up to you, it’s up to you, it’s strictly up to you. And do you deny to any man the right he’s guaranteed, to be elected president no matter what his creed? It’s promised in the Bill of Rights to which we must be true! So it’s up to you, it’s up to you, it’s strictly up to you. Do you like a man who answers straight, a man who’s always fair? We’ll measure him against the others and when you compare, You’ll cast your vote for Kennedy and the change that’s overdue. So it’s up to you, it’s up to you, it’s strictly up to you."
Since the 1960s, campaigns really haven't used their own theme songs or jingles. Either out of laziness, cost or expediency, they have taken to using famous songs in a subconscious attempt to connect themselves to the musicians voters identify with. More often than not, campaigns will not pay royalties or seek permission from the artist before using their works. By the time it would take a lawsuit to work its way through the system the campaign is over. There's no money for the artist to seek in damages and they really have minimal recourse. Most campaigns will just find a song they like and use it unless and until they get a cease and desist letter from a lawyer. This pretty much never happens and the mentality is one of "it's better to ask forgiveness than permission. Am I encouraging you to rip off artist's music for use on your campaign without crediting them? Of course not. I'm merely pointing out what occurs on campaigns. If however, an artist asks you to stop playing their song, you should probably do so to avoid any further bad publicity. On an interesting note, it seems to mostly be Republican candidates that get the Cease and Desist letters. Ronald Reagan vs. Bruce Springsteen, 1984 Bush vs. Sting, 2000 Angela Merkel vs. The Rolling Stones, 2005 McCain vs. Mellancamp, 2008 Palin vs. Heart, 2008 Rand Paul vs. Rush, 2010 Romney vs. K'Naan, 2012 Paul Ryan vs. Twisted Sister, 2012 A personal favorite comes from Randy Baumgardner, running for US Senate in Colorado who is using Hulk Hogan's theme song. We hope the Hulkster and original artist Rick Derringer don't mind.