Campaign Music

Tim Hudak runs afoul of indie-rockers the New Pornographers

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS (Marina Chavez)

It’s hard to be hip.

The Progressive Conservative campaign has been leaning heavily on Canadian indie rock to provide the soundtrack for leader Tim Hudak’s events, in a calculated effort to rebrand the party a little by moving away from the classic-rock anthems of past campaigns. A particular favourite of the campaign is Moves by The New Pornographers, which blasts over the public address system at the end of each speech.

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The campaign said it isn’t aware of any copyright issues that would keep it from using the song. But there is a problem – the band is less than impressed. In a series of tweets, singers A.C. Newman and Neko Case have mocked the PC Leader for his choice and mused about the legality.

“Tim Hudak, who told you it was cool to use my song in campaigns,” Mr. Newman asked. “Might I suggest instead Illegal Alien by Genesis.”

Ms. Case said Thursday that she’s “into 0% political association.”

Political parties have a long history of rankling musicians with their song choices. Bruce Springsteen made headlines in 1984 when he lost it on Ronald Reagan’s campaign for using Born in the U.S.A. as its theme song.

Party officials said that while they didn’t see any issues with using songs in their campaigns, they’d likely stop if someone made a direct request. Mr. Newman has chosen to respond with a looser tone, however, making fun of the situation rather than getting riled up.

“Tim Hudak appears to be a fan of pornographers,” he wrote. “Is that the kind of man you want representing you and your children, Ontario?”

The band may not be keen on politicians using their music, but they are okay with corporations – the same song Mr. Hudak seems to like is also the soundtrack to a heavily played television ad for Hyundai. Their songs have also been used by Kindle, T-Mobile and the University of Phoenix.

The Liberals, meanwhile, have found a novel way around the problem – they are keeping it in the family and using their own talent. At their kickoff rally in Mississauga on Wednesday, Dalton McGuinty and his wife Terri greeted 300 supporters to the strains of Hello, a song written and performed by Martina Sorbara, lead singer of Dragonette who happens to be the daughter of Greg Sorbara, chairman of the Liberal campaign.

The not-so-subtle message behind the song? Ontario is worth fighting for.

The Liberals also reached into their MPP ranks to serenade supporters. Rick Johnston, the incumbent candidate for the riding of Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock, wrote the official campaign theme song, titled Ontario. His wife, the Juno-nominated artist Terry Crawford, sang the song with a little help from their son, Mike, who added a touch of rap to the song.

And the NDP’s Andrea Horwath has been marching into raucous campaign rallies, hugging teamsters and kissing babies, accompanied by the thumping chorus of Florence and the Machine's Dog Days are Over.

It's one of several songs the NDP's tour director chose for Ms. Horwath. Lady Gaga's The Edge of Glory is another.

According to press secretary Marion Nader, they did their homework beforehand and haven't had a problem with musicians' rights. “We got the formal agreement and licenses,” she said.

With reports from Karen Howlett and Anna Mehler Paperny

UPDATE: As of Thursday night Hudak's campaign was still using the song. Click for audio

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