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The Independent Culture

Musicians and Donald Trump have a fraught relationship. From ordering him to stop playing their music to calling out his politics, some of the highest-profile artists in the world have alignedthemselves against, the US president.

While several prominent singers have been calling out Trump since as far back as 1989, when he was a promoter for the Rolling Stones ( Keith Richards was not a fan ), his time as president has prompted many more to criticise him at shows, write protest songs about him, or mock him from their social media accounts.

From the end of his campaign to Kanye West meeting Trump in the Oval Office this month, here’s an extensive timeline of some of the most notable moments involving Trump and the music industry .


Trump struggles to find artists willing to perform at his inauguration. After a report that his representatives are looking for LBGT musicians, Elton John – who commented, when Trump used ‘Tiny Dancer’ in his campaign, “I’m not a Republican in a million years” – swiftly rules himself out. On a potential inauguration performance, he quips: “Why not ask Ted f***ing Nugent?”

Kanye West voices support for Trump during a lengthy rant at one of his own concerts, saying if he had voted, “I would have voted for Trump”. He is admitted to hospital shortly after the show and diagnosed with exhaustion.


DaveGahanperforms (Rex)

Depeche Mode return with their first new music in four years: a politically charged track titled “Where’s the Revolution” that appears to criticise the US for electing Trump as president. Singer Dave Gahan performs blistering lyrics including the line: “Who’s making your decisions? You or your religion? / Your government, your countries? You patriotic junkies.”

The 59th Grammy awards is one of the most political in the music award ceremony’s history, and features anti-Trump statements from the likes of Highly Suspect, Jennifer Lopez, Paris Jackson, Beyonce, A Tribe Called Quest and Katy Perry.

Singer Joy Villa is criticised for wearing a red, white and blue dress with “Make America Great Again” on the front and “Trump” on the back on the Grammys red carpet.

Kanye West deletes his tweets about meeting with Donald Trump in December, and is reportedly unhappy with the president’s first two weeks in the White House .

ChrissyTeigenand John Legend (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

In an interview withThe Independent, John Legend speaks about Trump’s election and suggests an interesting reason for why artists are less vocal about politics than they were in previous decades.

“In the Sixties and Seventies it was much more common,” he observes. “I think there was no sense of urgency until he [Trump] got elected, and now people are genuinely worried about the future of the country.”

He also says he believes Trump will be impeached – “now it’s just a matter of when Congress has the guys to do it”.

Bruce Springsteen releases a new protest song "That's What Makes Us Great"that brands Trump as a “con man”. The song includes the lyrics: “Don’t tell me a lie, and sell it as fact / I’ve been down that road before, and I ain’t going back.”

Trump withEminAgalarov(left) and his fatherAras(Getty Images )

Russian singer Emin Agalarov is caught up in the centre of a huge political controversy after his publicist, Rob Goldstone, is revealed to have offered to set up a call between Agalarov and Donald Trump Jr, purportedly on behalf of Emin, to discuss information against Hillary Clinton that would help Trump in his presidential campaign.

Trump’s relationship with Agalarov’s billionaire father Aras, who has ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin, has been under scrutiny because Trump inked a multi-million dollar deal with the Agalarovs to bring his Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013. On the red carpet at Miss USA 2013, Trump called the family “the most powerful people in all of Russia”.


John Legend argues that Trump’s attacks on other public figures is an example of psychological projection and blame shifting.

The outspoken artist brands the US president an “embarrassment” to America and lambasts his approval rating, which has dropped to 34 per cent, as a prestigious polling site also deems him more unpopular than any other president in the history of modern polling.

Snoop Dogg atCoachella(Getty/Coachella)

Snoop Dogg takes aim at Trump in a new track titled “Make America Crip Again”, an obvious take on Trump’s trademark campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”.

Macklemore leads chants of “F*** Donald Trump” at a concert in Arizona and performs his YG collaboration,“F*** Donald Trump Part 2”, which features the lyric: “How did he make it this far? How the f*** did it begin? / A Trump rally sounds like Hitler and Berlin.”

once told Trump to “go f*** yourself” in 1990 after being told by the former business magnate, who was opening his casino in Atlantic City, that his performance costs were “a little rich”.


Snoop posts, then deletes, an image on Instagram in the style of Ice Cube’s 1991 record cover for Death Certificate, showing him standing over a dead body covered with the American flag, and a name tag attached to the foot reading “Trump”.


Chance the Rapper has hinted that he may run for mayor in his native Chicago (AP)

Chance the Rapper is among the musicians boycotting Trump’s first State of the Union address.

Hillary Clinton(Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton appears alongside Cardi B, DJ Khaled, Snoop Dogg, Cher and John Legend in a comedy skit broadcast at the Grammy Awards.

The former presidential candidate and Secretary of State performs a dramatic reading of the book Fire & Fury, in order to win next year’s award for Best Spoken Word Album.

Shania Twain performing live in 2018 (SamirHussein/WireImage)

Shania Twain apologises over comments made in a Guardian interview, where she implied that she would have voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

The Canadian singer says the question caught her “off guard” and regrets not adding more context to her answer, explaining that she does not hold “any common moral beliefs” with the current president.

Trump thanks Kanye West for calling him “my brother”, saying the message is “very cool”.


Trump travels to Tennessee to boost the Senate candidacy of Marsha Blackburn and takes aim at Jay Z over his support for Hillary Clinton: “The only way she [Clinton] filled up the arena was to get Jay Z, and his lanuage was so filthy that it made me like the most clean-cut human being on earth.”


Taylor Swift breaks her long-held political silence to denounce Tennessee Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn and endorse two Democrats .

In a powerful post on Instagram she writes: “I have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country.

“I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of colour is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.”

Trump responds by claiming he likes Swift’s music “25 per cent less” after her Democrat endorsement – an unusually tame response that suggests he is very aware of the pop star’s enormous, and increasingly registered-to-vote, fanbase.

Lana Del Rey tells Kanye West his support for Trump is “a loss for the culture” and accuses him of having “delusions of grandeur” and “extreme issues with narcissism” which she suggests he shares with the president.

West meets with Trump at the Oval Office and goes on several uninterrupted rants, including one where he suggests he may run for president after Trump departs from the White House.

MelaniaTrump is offended by TI's new video, which features a lookalike of the First Lady stripping in the Oval Office.


PharrellWilliams sends a legal warning to Trump after he uses the song "Happy" on the day of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.Pharrell's lawyer noted that there was nothing “happy” about “the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday” and said “no permission was granted for your [Trump's] use of this song for this purpose”.

According to the letter, Williams will “not allow” Trump to use music from his back catalogue at any future event.

Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose slammed the Trump campaign, calling them “s—-bags” for using the legendary rock band's music during the president's political rallies.

In a Twitter rant, Rose saysthat the band, “like a lot of artists opposed to the unauthorised use of their music at political events”, has formally asked that their music not be used “at Trump rallies or Trump associated events”, but claimsthat, despite the request, the campaign “is using loopholes in the various venues' blanket performance licenses” and playing music without the artists' permission.

RIhanna also calls out Trump for using her song "Don't Stop the Music"at a rally ahead of the midterm elections . She brands the rallies "tragic" and later sends a cease and desist letter ordering him to stop using her music at political events.

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