Every four years in America, voting citizens aren’t the only ones choosing sides between the Democratic and Republican parties. As candidates integrate themselves into pop culture with endorsements from big-name celebrities, their musical affiliations can quickly elevate from personal preference to front-page news. In the current Presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, countless headlines were generated when Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan declared notoriously left-wing rockers Rage Against The Machine among his personal favorites. It wasn’t long before RATM guitarist Tom Morello took Ryan to task for his choice with a scathing op-ed piece in Rolling Stone, stating, “Paul Ryan is the embodiment of the machine our music rages against.”
With a plethora of artists ranging from Silversun Pickups to Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider taking great pains to distance themselves from the Romney/Ryan ticket, a host of sonic luminaries have been quick to align themselves with President Obama. Chris Cornell of Soundgarden even dropped off of Jay-Z’s high-profile Made in America festival over Labor Day weekend to join indie rockers the National as opening acts for Obama at an Iowa fundraiser in Des Moines on September 1. At the actual Democratic National Convention, the Foo Fighters, Jack Johnson, Motion City Soundtrack and Asher Roth are all on the September 5 bill for a Rock The Vote fundraiser.
Still, there are a couple of rock acts standing up for Mitt Romney, most notably Detroit bad boy Kid Rock, who has performed at fundraisers for the Republican candidate, and even dropped an Obama-dissing freestyle rap during a private performance in Tampa, FL, this week: “They say Obama is lyin’ / That’s why I’m voting for Romney and Ryan.”
While fellow rockers Ted Nugent and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth have come out in support of Romney, but with both being bat-guano crazy, the endorsements may have hurt more than helped Romney. The Republican candidate seemed to get a thumbs-up from KISS bassist/shill Gene Simmons earlier this year on Fox News, but he quickly clarified that he wasn’t endorsing Romney, but that he preferred him “only so far as fiscal economic areas are concerned.”
Rockers 3 Doors Down (best known for 2000 hit “Kryptonite”) made it known they were looking forward to performing for Republicans, with the band’s singer saying, “We are honored to be asked to play the RNC and are excited about our performance.” He would later clarify those remarks to the Tampa Bay Times, insisting, “We’ve never really been a very political band. “
All told, our tally comes out to 6 musical acts openly supporting Obama, to just one – Kid Rock – for Romney.
Vegas band the Killers seem to have the smart idea, staying diplomatic after Romney mentioned he was a fan. Instead of leaning either way, the band’s bass player Mark Stoermer simply told Rolling Stone, “Anyone’s allowed to like us.”
Frank Zappa may have said it best: “Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar!”
–Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local