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Campaign music: Politicians are playing their song

May 14, 2012 |  8:22 pm

Barack Obama channel's Al Green's 'Let's Stay Together.' Mitt Romney leans on K'naan's 'Wavin' Flag.' If there's a politician, there's a song ready to blare.

Like less charismatic hip-hop artists, politicians routinely repurpose other people's songs. And like a great many rappers over the last several decades, they've often done it without permission. As we move into the summer-long showdown between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, here are five songs recently heard reverberating in the corridors of power.

K'naan, "Wavin' Flag"

Romney used this Somali Canadian rapper's 2009 hit after a Florida-primary win, leading K'naan to tweet, "Yo @mittromney I am K'naan Warsame and I do not endorse this message."

Al Green, "Let's Stay Together"

In January President Obama sang a few lines of the 1972 soul classic during a fundraiser at New York's Apollo Theater. It's also included on an official (and no doubt carefully curated) campaign playlist available on Spotify.

Survivor, "Eye of the Tiger"

The early '80s rockers went as far as suing Newt Gingrich to stop the Republican hopeful from using "Eye of the Tiger," best known for its appearance in Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky III."

Toby Keith, "American Ride"

Texas governor Rick Perry regularly used Toby Keith's 2009 country hit at his campaign events, indicating Perry's Southern roots and his freewheeling iconoclasm.

First Love, "Game On!"

Though not perhaps an official Rick Santorum selection, this effervescent pop-country ditty earned the former Pennsylvania senator's approval on Twitter. And why not? "He's got the plan," the sisters of First Love sing, "to lower taxes, raise morale and put the power in our hands."


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Photo: K'naan. Credit: James Minchin.