In the last few months, almost every band and musician not making country music in the US has had to ban those pesky hate-mongers at the Republican party from using their tracks without asking. Tom Petty and Jon Mellencamp both did it. Rage Against The Machine did it. K’NAAN did it. Then Thin Lizzy did it.
But one pro-Republican “endorsement” this week got the internet all shook up and confused and vulnerable. When Nikki Minaj rapped “I’m a Republican voting for Mitt Romney” on Lil Wayne’s new mixtape, everyone lost their shit a little bit.
Few people believe she really meant it (it’s hard to find words that rhyme with “zombie”) but that doesn’t matter, because millions of Minaj fans still heard her endorse a political candidate and, due to a strange evolutionary quirk, people find it almost impossible to not take everything their heroes say to heart.
With the US race now (presumably) sewn up after YMCMB’s input, and the UK’s coalition Government passing the halfway point in its ludicrously successful term in power, I started to wonder how far our next election could be dictated by musicians’ whims and endorsements.
See, back in Tony Blair’s day, Labour used to be elbow-deep in celeb musical support. T-Breezy only had to throw a “Cool Britannia” Pimms and tea party and Noel and Liam Gallagher would show up, their ginger girlfriends Geri Halliwell and Mick Hucknall in tow, Charlotte Church also transpiring, pissed, from the back of the taxi.
But things got even worse: all those people are now dead (I think) and there are few replacements willing to step up to the mark. The best the Labour Party can hope for these days is a shout out from formerly relevant grime artists like Kano. Kano used to help Ed Balls promote "The Diploma", a kind of trendy, futuristic-sounding alternative to GCSEs and A-levels which all the kids are taking these days. Right kids? (I think they got cancelled already.)
Despite winning three elections with his celebrity backing singers, Blair was just the student in the game of "selling out completely for a slight gain in contemporary relevance". Long before Tony, forward-thinking Tories like Birmingham MP Enoch Powell we’re out soliciting endorsements from major musicians. Do you remember when Eric Clapton announced he was a big fan of the Conservative party, and got mega racist and started yelling about how we should “Keep Britain white” and how “the black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans are not welcome”?
No, neither do I, because I wasn’t alive in 1976. But the internet remembers, and the internet will never forget that Eric Clapton is a horrible racist.
Cameron’s party has moved on since then, of course, and these days they keep their racist opinions boiled up inside their moony faces. At least until they see loads of non-white people cooking foreign food or living off benefits or (worse) taking "British people’s jobs", or walking into PC World like they own the fucking place -- and they just have to SCREEEAM or post pictures of zoo animals on blogs or whatever.
Running through the (strangely long) roster of today’s Tory supporting musicians is like looking at the line-up behind a Live Aid charity single for arseholes: Spandau Ballet singer Tony Hadley, the traitor and political glory supporter Geri Halliwell, Phil Collins, Gary Barlow...
Expect a loud shout this time round from Barlow, the modern face of acceptable Tory support, who was (conveniently -- i.e. it was probably rigged) chosen to sing a song for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Gary gave his backing to Dave Cameron in 2010, and shortly after, Gary and former arch-nemesis Robbie Williams teamed up for an ode to coalition-government-slash-half-arsed-Field-&-Stream-sexual-experimentation called “Shame” (look at them just give up and hug at the end like they can’t even be bothered to try it), which is the perfect soundtrack to play while, once again, begging Nick Clegg to help legitimise your evil schemes because you’re not popular enough to run a proper government.
The Lib Dems themselves have lost so much credibility it’s hard to imagine anyone ever supported them. But by the last election almost all of Labour’s faithful musical supporters had dribbled over to the Lib Dems, like a huge heap of cowshit sliding down the path of least resistance. Noel Gallagher switched sides, Chris Martin plopped over. Razorlight and Kooks flew the Liberal flag and everyone was feeling so damn smug they didn’t even bother to laugh their mouths out. Even Billy Bragg said he’d vote Lib Dem.
But we all make mistakes. You might not remember but there was a time, years and years ago, when people thought Soulja Boy could be the real deal and bring something original to rap -- like, real, non-stupid people thought this. Then he went round for the next few years Nick Clegging (being a real prick and having no talent and fucking up everything he touched) and everyone looked at the ground like they were really embarrassed and said sorry to everyone else for being so completely wrong.
If musicians are anything like the rest of us, they’d rather be sick out of their eyes till they’re dead than look at Nick Clegg slowly deteriorate from shame for another five years. Honestly, no one -- literally NO ONE – will attach their name to these guys, ever again.
That just means there’s now three major political parties that everyone knows they can’t trust, and few people are likely to endorse. Protest votes are very much up for grabs again. Have a look at these three who will be hoping for the right political nod to win your vote:
BNP: If Eric Clapton is too busy, the BNP will have to make do with a lesser bigot. How about this: Racially offensive statements, ambiguous sexuality, funny haircut? It’s Morrissey! Nick Griffin is a man who has always got one eye on a big, sloppy steak (and the other on whatever he’s trying to look at) but surely could be persuaded to forge an alliance with animal rights activists over a cheekily sung version of “You’re the One for Me, Fatty”.
UKIP: Single-issue parties have a hard time at the general elections because they aren’t proper parties and no one wants them in power and they only care about one thing. In “I’m On One” we’re told that all Drake cares about is money and the city that he’s from – that’s two things, but expect support from him, anyway.
George Galloway: Given that none of the parties seem interested in winning many seats, the Respect MP for Bradford West (and man of many faiths) might threaten to have a shot at the top spot. I’m guessing he’ll abandon Islam for this election, unless he can count on Cat Stevens and Mos Def for support. Rastafarianism, plus a shout out from Snoop could be a winning combo. Scientology with Isaac Hayes is a back up.
In a week when Cameron did a cabinet reshuffle that reminded everyone just how hard it is to shake a wardrobe full of turds, at least he could take off his marigolds and think 'Thank god I’ve got two years to polish this lot into a winning team.' And even when he gets to the end of it, the only competition he’ll face is from wobbling, flesh-covered reminders of how pointless the political process is.
But that’s not to say the game is over already. Musicians will continue to endorse politicians in the hope of a better world/tax break/knighthood – and we will continue to listen, as if disliking Barack when Jay-Z still hangs out with him would be a moral failure.
And just imagine what a British politician could do with Ed Sheeran behind them when all those 16-year-old girls come of voting age in two years time. Just think how much power you’d wield with the support of three of the four judges from The Voice. At this point, I hate to even imagine who’ll come out on top.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @mjponsford