Katrina & The Waves – Walkin’ On Sunshine

This 1985 tune earns about $1 million per year in royalties for the band. You’ve heard it in movies like High Fidelity, American Psycho and Daddy Day Care. And on TV shows like The Gilmore Girls and The Drew Carey Show. If a program needs to emphasize some good feelings, this song is the go-to choice.

You can appreciate politicians would try to latch on to this poppy infectiousness.

Republican Michele Bachmann represented Minnesota from 2007-2015, in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is known as a Tea Party supporter. When campaigning for President in 2012, the politician played this song.

Katrina and her Waves objected! Did Michele even ask?

The band had other catchy tunes, but fall into the one-hit wonder category. Too, Bachmann dropped out of the presidential race, but has the distinction of being Minnesota’s first female federal Congresswoman, at least for her party.

Still, Tom Petty was not a fan of Bachmann, either: American Girl.

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Hi-Caliber – Freedom-Enemy of the State

Hi-Cal was a construction worker from New Jersey, who after 9/11 became a Christian and starting calling himself a “Republican rapper.” He has performed for many thousands at Tea Party rallies, serenading this movement in their efforts to move the USA more to the right of the political spectrum.

Fans and experts of rap and hip hop might find Hi-Cal’s rhymes and beats to be pedestrian. But perhaps there is room for ideological diversity in all styles of music.

Perhaps we can now have a rap battle not of boasting but of political debate?

Ray Stevens – We The People

Ray Stevens is a comedian with musical credibility, having even played on a recording for Elvis Presley. He somehow manages to appear good-natured even though there is a hard edge to his political commentary that could be seen as too strident and even mean-spirited.

This ditty maintains that U.S. President Barack Obama has not listened to Americans who are against his health care reforms. Thus, he will be voted out. This proved to be wishful thinking, as this song came before Obama achieved a second term in 2012. It still remains to be seen whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will survive, though.

Obamacare is explained with the help of Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley: Obamacare Morning

Raffi – Baby Beluga

Canadian children’s entertainer Raffi has been annoying parents with the Baby Beluga song since 1980. But they will find themselves humming and singing his catchy tunes. His original audience now counts themselves among the middle aged, and Raffi would like their children to eventually vote. In this cause, Raffi composed an awkward new verse to this classic song for the last Canadian federal election:

Must entertainers wade into aquariums they don’t fully belong?

Here’s an argument: Raffi revolutionized children’s music. He’s even been called the Bruce Springsteen of the toddler crowd. So, Raffi, just continue to shake your sillies out and be proud of that legacy. Your vinyl records and plastic cassettes are stamped, for children ages 3-8, after all. Your songs were about bananas and those five little ducks that kept getting lost, not the operation of liberal democratic states.

American economist Thomas Sowell would likely agree. His book, Intellectuals and Society, argues that experts on one subject should not act as experts on another. They are world renowned on one thing, and somehow get to thinking they have a mission to lead us to better lives outside of their bailiwick. And too often, we fall for this.

We’d think it daft to have purple dinosaur Barney marching at a Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street protest. The Teletubbies or Wiggles need not storm the state legislature in Wisconsin over collective bargaining rights. Shall Big Bird pluck his (her?) feathers for PETA? (Or be used in a campaign ad by President Barack Obama?)

In the realm of politics:

Jenny McCarthy, let’s consider. She’s famous for something (her breasts?), so she must know that vaccinations are sinister. Now take Bertrand Russell. He is known for his explorations into metaphysics, and then got all anti-war on everyone. But campaigning against Britain rearming while Hitler was getting ready to unleash his horrors, in the 1930s, looks rather awkward, today.

Raffi is of course well-intentioned. And the status accorded artists such as he no doubt balloons their egos to a place where they might imagine themselves anointed to excogitate and then recommend in areas beyond their scope. They already have the soapbox and so why not stand upon it! I suppose, too, some of this comes back to Raffi starting out as a protest folk singer; he once tried an environmental-themed adult album, but it sank, perhaps Down By the Bay, where the watermelons grow! Further, it can be fallacious to appeal to authorities on subjects all the time. History is full of examples of experts not knowing their left from right.

Raffi is just one example of music artists singing about that which they don’t really know much about. There are no requirements for singers of songs to know of what they croon. Even Jenny McCarthy may be forgiven for not fact-checking a New York Times story from 2002 where she got her views on vaccines. Music has its share of dingbats like the rest of the population. Still! The status these artists and celebrities are accorded in society may warrant some voluntary discretion and forethought from them.

The Tea Party – The Bazaar

Hard rock with tinges of Eastern and Celtic influences somewhat describes Canada’s The Tea Party. Popular in the 1990s, this band is in the news today for sharing its name with the grassroots political movement in the United States.

The Tea Party (the band), owns the website, teaparty.com, which could be worth a lot of money to the American group given the presidential election next year.

According to the Vancouver Sun newspaper, dated the day of this post, the band (defunct since 2005 though trying to get going again) has many website hits and inquiries from people looking for the political movement. It’s website main page now says, “No politics… Just Rock and Roll.”

It could sell the domain name for about a million dollars, though then face the age-old criticism of rock stars being sell-outs. And sell-outs, to a group that may not necessarily reflect any of the views of the members of the band.

Related post from this blog: Tom Petty – American Girl

Velvet Underground – Venus in Furs

It’s been said many times that the Velvet Underground didn’t sell too many records in their day (late 1960s), but that everyone that did hear them started a band.

It came as a surprise during the 2008 US presidential elections that drummer Maureen “Moe” Tucker was participating at Tea Party rallies:

Yet, the “Velvets” were the dead roses of the flower power era, singing about drug abuse and sexual deviancy [probably, one doesn’t say deviance anymore, that being judgmental]. They were never hippies, and that one of their members is/became politically conservative, makes some kind of strange sense in terms of being on the vanguard.

The song here, Venus in Furs, references sadomasochism, bondage and submission, and is from the band’s first album, The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967). It is famous for having its cover designed by Andy Warhol. The pop artist often had the Velvets perform at his shows.

Tom Petty – American Girl

This 1977 song has an urban legend attached to it, that it was written for a girl that committed suicide. In 2011, Tom Petty appears to be hoping Republican/Tea Party presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is a victim of some sort of  political suicide.

The politician received a “cease and desist” order from the songwriter to not use his song when she is campaigning.

But perhaps Petty has more conservative fans buying his music and attending his concerts than he’d care to admit? That could help explain why George W. Bush also tried using Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” as a campaign song. Would he object to Sarah Palin using “Free Falling?”

Footnote: Why campaign teams don’t get permission to use songs is odd.

Related Tea Party post from this blog: The Tea Party – The Bazaar

More from Petty: Rebels