Corporatist GOP candidate Donald Trump and vintage alterna-band R.E.M. both rose to prominence in the 1980s. The similarities between the two parties begin and end there.

On Wednesday, however, their paths crossed in a manner that R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe did not appreciate: Trump’s team picked the group’s classic 1987 track “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” to play during a campaign rally in Washington, D.C. More specifically, the song was played as the background music for Trump’s public expression of displeasure, before a tea-party-friendly audience, over the Obama administration’s recent nuclear deal with Iran.

In their heyday, Stipe and R.E.M. were known in part for their obscure lyrics, but as Variety reported Thursday, they had no problem sending a clear message or two to Trump and anyone of his description who uses their music for their own ends:

“While we do not authorize or condone the use of our music at this political event, and do ask that these candidates cease and desist from doing so, let us remember that there are things of greater importance at stake here,” the group said on its Facebook page. “The media and the American voter should focus on the bigger picture, and not allow grandstanding politicians to distract us from the pressing issues of the day and of the current presidential campaign.”

Lead singer Michael Stipe bashed Trump and other politicians in an email to the Daily Beast.

“Go f— yourselves, you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry, little men,” Stipe said. “Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.”

As of press time, Trump had yet to lob one of his customized hate tweets in R.E.M.’s direction; instead, he focused on dissing the Iran deal itself:

The Trump/R.E.M. conflict is but the latest episode in a larger story about politicians’ often fraught relationship with musical artists, and it’s one in which both sides frequently get dinged (remember the Dixie Chicks?) for making forays into the other’s territory. Earlier this week, members of Survivor protested the use of their song “Eye of the Tiger” during a rally in honor of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis’ release from jail, where she’d done a few days behind bars for refusing to allow her Rowan County office to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

And of course, reaching even farther back, there was the famous incident in which Republican candidate Ronald Reagan co-opted Bruce Springsteen’s critique of Vietnam-era American domestic and foreign policy, “Born in the U.S.A.,” evidently missing or overlooking the deeper meaning of Springsteen’s song.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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