Everything is drama with Donald Trump, even his quest for the perfect campaign song.
Neil Young put the kibosh on Trump’s use of “Rockin’ in the Free World” right out of the gate, adding for good measure that he’s supporting the ultimate anti-Trump, Bernie Sanders.
Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, a Republican no less, has written a cease and desist letter to stop Trump from using “Dream On.”
Now everybody wants to get into the act.
Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon recommended in Trump’s presence something called “All I Do Is Win” by somebody called DJ Khaled. With all due respect to Fallon and Khaled, the unmusical rap song couldn’t suck harder if it was a certain 1990s political intern with a famous dress.
Late Night with Seth Meyers’ house band came up with a tune for the Donald, and what they produced was a derivative punk/rock hybrid that pokes fun, and includes profanity. We get it, and we’re rejecting both the song and the message.
The International Film Channel even threw down ten possibilities. With the exception of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business” (forever marred IMO by a slightly off-key guitar solo) they all suck.
Let’s get real. Urban rap or feminized pop will not inspire troops amassing to follow the populist mogul and phenomenal candidate right up to and through the gates of political hell.
The songs Trump likes so far are all pure Golden Age rockers: the aforementioned “Free World,” Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On.”
It is time to address this campaign conundrum from a rock-and-roll perspective, which is exactly where Trump’s base lives, with analysis of two songs he’s considered, and three he might want to consider.
Aerosmith’s “Dream On”
This was not the best choice for the Trump campaign. For one thing, the phrase can be taken two ways, as in, “dream on if you think you’re ever going to be president.”
Taken without the snarky iteration, I can see how the braintrust around Trump thought Aerosmith’s timeless classic might be the positive, uplifting choice. “Dream” does evoke the arena-rock experience (cue the cigarette lighters), but the tempo is wrong for the candidate. I hate to say it with Governor Bush still in the race, but the ballad is a tad low-energy.
Beyond that, the song is still in heavy rotation on neo-classic rock stations. We’ve all heard it a million times, and by the Texas primary it may have taken on a mawkish quality.
AC-DC’s “Money Talks”
For pure on-the-nose hysteria, the Aussie powerhouse has just the ticket.
Yes, some of the references to wealth are hackneyed (“tailored suits, chauffeured cars, French maids”). Unavoidably, the song’s core message is about prostitution.
But the balls-out chorus is a prime motivator, and says everything that needs to be said about financial power and the elation that comes when ordinary people imagine having it.
Suggestion: When Angus Young goes into his blistering solo, have Trump dive into the crowd.
Judas Priest’s “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll”
Speaking of imagination, a considerable part of Donald Trump’s appeal has to do with envisioning all the SOB’s he’s going to fire if he gets elected. Since we’re talking heavy metal here, imagine a gigantic scythe cutting across the political landscape, delivering irrevocable walking papers to pernicious, metastasized legions of bureaucrats like Jonathan Gruber.
“SHAGR” was not one of Priest’s huge hits, but neither is it an obscure deep track. Metalheads know the song well, and political arrivals to Trump’s anti-establishment camp will groove to its promise of a decimation-level culling of the Beltway herd.
Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded”
Trump has made it plain that he only strikes when he’s hit first. An initial strike is calculated; an answering broadside is calculated too, but carries the added weight of reaction. Trump’s reaction usually comes with force-multiplied devastation. One recurring theme in his stump speech is that most of the people who have hit him, except for Dr. Ben Carson (who apologized) are out of the race.
There isn’t a rock fan in Cleveland or anywhere else who won’t recognize the pulsating, down-to-business opening of Foreigner’s mega-hit. Contrast that with the room temperature performances of Trump’s fellow candidates.
Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It”
My respectful advice to Mr. Trump: “Dance with the one that brung ya.”
Unlike Young, a great musician it must be said, Sister front man Dee Snider appears to be onboard.
The anthemic chord progression, empowering hook, and melody-line lead break all combine to make this 80s gem the perfect Trump campaign song.
We’re praying that there’s not much more that we’re going to have to take from the Washington establishment, be they over-rehearsed and donor-obligated Republicans, or really scary–like Judas Priest scary–Democrats.
In summation, dreaming on at this point is not going to get her done. Money talks and we need for some heads to roll. Keep the tempo hot-blooded, and, to borrow a phrase from the title of Twisted Sister’s breakthrough album, Stay Hungry.
Call the right tune, and the rock-solid choir will come.