You can tell the US presidential election is under way because the cease-and-desist letters are going out. As the circus pitches the big tent the number of annoyed music stars grows. This week Eminem made his feelings clear. It was Vivek Ramaswamy, the young Republican would-be leader of the free world, who has the air of a Black Mirror version of a would-be leader of the free world, who was slapped down. He performed Eminem’s Lose Yourself at a campaign event and Eminem didn’t like it. Ramaswamy is now not allowed to use any Eminem track during his campaign.
There is a long list of artists, from Springsteen to Neil Young, who have demanded that, mostly Republican, candidates don’t use their music. This grows as the campaigning intensifies.
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I do have some sympathy with Ramaswamy. Anybody who performs a song, perfectly and fully committed, should be granted some latitude. It’s always very cool to see anyone perfectly deliver a much-loved track with no notes and no prompts. I have an old friend who can still do Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby perfectly; it never fails to impress.
In fact, if this were introduced as a requirement of all candidates it would make the election run-ins better, on both sides of the Atlantic. At every PM hustings Rishi Sunak has to carry off I Am the Walrus. Have Keir Starmer get ripped right into Dennis Waterman’s classic Minder theme tune I Could Be So Good for You. Get Donald Trump to do the evergreen football favourite World in Motion. This will mean nothing to American voters, but we could tell him some charges will be dropped if he carried the John Barnes rap flawlessly.
According to the YouGov British mood tracker (I do like to keep an eye on the British mood tracker) 24% of Brits describe their mood at present as sad and 30% as frustrated. We’re leaving the summer on a downbeat note. It is easy to see why. There is a general feeling that things are grinding to a halt and nothing is changing for the better. Interest rates are keeping food prices high, winter is coming and fuel bills will rise, the nation’s transport infrastructure is not moving because of strikes and a lack of investment and Manchester United remain obstinately ordinary. There is a government in office so bereft of ideas and a plan that it’s not ruling out ankle tags to track asylum seekers.