The National Angered Over Romney Ad’s Use Of Their Music

Rock group The National is lashing out at the Romney campaign over an ad that uses their music without the artists’ permission.

The ad was created by a group called Ohio University Students for Romney and uses the song “Fake Empire” as its soundtrack. If these students had bothered to do their homework before using it, they would know that The National are staunch Obama devotees. The band has happily supported the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012 by performing at rallies and selling t-shirts to raise money for his election. What’s more, the song in question “Fake Empire” was used by Obama in 2008.

The ad has since been pulled from YouTube with the message, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Matt Berninger and Bryce Dessner.”

The pull could have been prompted by Berninger himself posting this in the video’s comment section:

“Our music was used without our permission in this ad. The song you’re using was written about the same backward, con game policies Romney is proposing. We encourage all students to educate themselves about the differences between the inclusive, pro-social, compassionate, forward-thinking policies of President Obama and the self-serving politics of the neo-conservative movement and Mitt Romney. Every single person involved in the creation of the music you’re using is voting for President Obama.”

The group posted an apology on their Facebook page which has since been taken down. Their statement begins with a message of contrition but then seems to take a jab at the musicians themselves for being angry about the illegal usage of their song:

“We apologize for offending ‘The National’ and their fans by using a cover/remix of the band’s melody for ‘Fake Empire.’ We were attempting to reinvigorate and unite the disgruntled fans wary of supporting the President as they did in 2008 with ‘Signs of Hope and Change’, with a new movement of people who Believe in real recovery and reform in supporting Mitt Romney.

“Unfortunately we’ve learned that partisan divide exists on YouTube and in music as much as it does in Washington. We respectfully took down the video, and will repost with music representing a better future with Romney & Ryan in Washington.”

But The National doesn’t seem to be in a forgiving mood. The band released a scathing statement on their website about the student group’s illegal use of their music for a Romney campaign ad:

“When we found out that allies of Mitt Romney used our music in a campaign ad without our permission we were irritated but not surprised. It’s actually a perfect illustration of his world-view. In every way, Mitt Romney thinks he can play by his own set of rules. His attitude isn’t just about a band from Ohio and their songs – it’s about all kinds of workers in Ohio and across the country who make things the rest of the world buys. Between Romney’s time at Bain where he made millions even when companies failed and workers lost jobs, his opposition to the auto rescue, or his failure to stand up for equal pay for women, this is another item in a long list of severely conservative ideas that hurt the middle and working class. Did Romney’s supporters read the title of the song before they used it? The song they used – ‘Fake Empire’ – was written in response to the mess that was made the last time Republicans were in the White House. Mitt Romney wants to take us right back to those same failed ideas that caused the mess in the first place. Finally, the video also shows a pandering ignorance about the young people they were trying to reach with our music – which shows that he and his allies just don’t understand young people. If you missed the video, it shows people holding Romney signs saying ‘I believe in America.’ We believe in America too – and not just some portion of it.”

It should be noted that the song in question, “Fake Empire,” may not be the best choice for any campaign. With lyrics like “Turn the light out say goodnight / No thinking for a little while / Let’s not try to figure out everything at once,” and a chorus of “We’re half-awake in a fake empire,” it is an odd choice for any candidate, regardless of what side they are affiliated with.

The Ohio University Students for Romney could have done a quick search to learn what The National’s song was really about before illegally using it in their pro-Romney ad. Then again, if they had performed that search, they would have also learned the band is pro-Obama all the way.

Photo by Gyrithe Lemche via