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Village People comment on “bully” Donald Trump’s use of YMCA

By | Published on Friday 22 January 2021

Donald Trump

The Village People have issued a statement about Donald Trump’s use of their song ‘YMCA’ to soundtrack the closing moments of his US presidency. Although they say that they have “no ill will” towards Trump, they also call him a “bully” and say they’re glad to see the back of him.

“We have no ill will towards the president, but we asked him to cease and desist [using our music] long ago”, they say in a statement given to Billboard. “However, since he’s a bully, our request was ignored. Thankfully he’s now out of office, so it would seem his abusive use of our music has finally ended”.

Trump, of course, made ‘YMCA’ something of an official theme tune at the political rallies where he was attempting to gain him a second term as president, often closing his events with it. In the days before the election, he posted a video of himself dancing to the song on Twitter, which was taken down following legal threats by the label that released the song, Scorpio Music.

The group, in particular lead Village Person Victor Willis, have made no secret of their dislike of their music being used in this way. In March last year, Willis pleaded with Trump to stop using ‘YMCA’ and also ‘Macho Man’ at his rallies, but to no avail.

In a more recent interview with the BBC, Willis lamented that there was little he could do beyond asking nicely, due to copyright law. Use of music at public events is usually covered by blanket licences issued by the music industry’s collecting societies.

Such licences would often be held by the venues where the event was taking place, or by a specific political campaign organisation (as was the case with Trump’s rallies).

Noting this, in their new statement, the Village People said: “We hope to spearhead a change in copyright law that will give artists and publishers more control over who can and cannot use our music in the public space. Currently, there is no limit to blanket licensing”.

Some argue that there are actually legal ways to stop music being used at political events in the US because of the rules of collecting societies BMI and ASCAP. However, it’s all a bit ambiguous. So there are probably many other artists who would join Willis in any campaign to get more clarity on all that. Although, with Trump gone, it will likely become less of a prominent issue again.