Published:
January 16, 2020 6:15 PM UTC

R.E.M. Blasts Trump in Faux-Woke Rant Teeming with Hypocrisy

R.E.M.'s faux-woke rant about Donald Trump using their music without permission is all about staying relevant, and it teems with hypocrisy.

  • R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills complained about Trump’s use of the band’s music at rallies.
  • The band has failed before to stop Trump from using their music.
  • The latest complaint is mostly an attempt to maintain the band’s relevance and royalty streams.

You remember R.E.M., right? No? Well, your parents probably do.

Bassist Mike Mills took to Twitter yesterday to complain about Donald Trump’s use of the group’s songs at his rallies.

Unsurprisingly enough for a musical combo that likes to flaunt its progressive credentials, they don’t really appreciate the association.

Source: Twitter

Trump’s detractors will appreciate Mills’ description of the president as a “con man,” but it’s obvious that his outburst was nothing more than a tired attempt to make R.E.M. relevant again.

And probably a bid to keeping the royalty checks streaming in.

R.E.M. Unleashes Empty (and Hypocritical) Anti-Trump Threat

No one doubts that R.E.M. genuinely detests Trump, but Mills’ tweet is just an attention-seeking piece of virtue signaling. Because it certainly isn’t part of a viable attempt to stop Trump from using R.E.M. tracks at campaign rallies.

R.E.M. pretends like they’re offended at Trump using their music. But they’ll pocket the royalty checks all the same. | Source: AP Photo/Jim Mone

R.E.M. isn’t the first band to bristle at Trump’s use of their music. Mills won’t have any more success at muzzling the Trump campaign than the failed attempts from the Rolling Stones and Neil Young.

As long as a rally venue has a performance rights organization (PRO) blanket license, Trump can play any song covered by that license with impunity. R.E.M. signed a PRO deal in 2017, so Trump has every right to blare “Losing My Religion” to his heart’s content.

R.E.M. must be aware that they have little chance of success. After all, they’ve already tried – and failed – to distance themselves from Trump’s campaign music.

That proves this “scandal” isn’t about successful legal battles, but about maintaining the band’s “woke” public profile without threatening its financial position.

Mills launched his anti-Trump tirade after the president played “Everybody Hurts” and “Losing My Religion” during his rally in Milwaukee on Tuesday. R.E.M. fans complained, and the bassist rushed to distract from the fact that he’ll earn a royalty check from the campaign stop.

But Mills wasn’t just defending R.E.M.’s “woke image. He was piggybacking on Trump’s notoriety to maintain relevance. Bashing Trump is a surefire way to secure media coverage, especially when your band hasn’t played a show in more than a decade (but wants to keep those royalties rolling in).

It Takes a Con Man to Know One

And it worked!

Music industry outlets NME, Billboard, and Clash all covered the tweet, and it’s gained some traction in mainstream publications.

Maybe Trump is a “con man,” like Mike Mills claims. But the R.E.M. bassist just exposed himself as a con man too.

Disclaimer: The opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.

This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.

Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:38 PM UTC

Simon Chandler @_simonchandler_

Simon Chandler is a journalist based in London, UK. He writes mostly about markets, and has bylines for Forbes, Wired, the Sun, RT.com, the Daily Dot, the New Internationalist, TechCrunch, the Verge, Lifewire, Cointelegraph, and VentureBeat, among others.

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