Michele Bachmann (mis)uses Katy Perry's 'Firework' in campaign. Does it irk you when a song is misunderstood?


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Over the weekend, controversial Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann entered the RightOnline conference in Minneapolis to the sounds of Katy Perry’s “Firework”, which can only lead to one reasonable explanation: Bachmann and Co., perhaps in preparation for the 4th of July, wanted to get super patriotic and play a song about fireworks.

Otherwise, it’s fairly easy to assume Bachmann was looking off to the side when someone tried to show her the music video for “Firework” and inform her that the song itself is actually Perry’s love letter to many, including homosexuals. Of course, if you know anything about Bachmann, then you know she’s hardly been supportive of the LGBT community throughout her career. (And at the same event, the representative had glitter thrown at her by an alleged LGBT activist.)

So was Bachmann’s use of the tune in her campaign insulting or a simple misunderstanding?

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time something like this has happened, especially in politics. Perhaps the most infamous misunderstanding of a song came when Ronald Reagan misappropriated Bruce Springsteen’s oft-incorrectly interpreted classic “Born in the U.S.A.” during his 1984 campaign.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve personally always wondered why folks use The Police’s beautiful, but haunting (haunting being the operative word here, as its essentially an ode to stalking) “Every Breath You Take” at their weddings. It’s a great song, sure, but that’s not romantic, folks. It’s plain creepy.

But, I’m curious PopWatchers, which misunderstood songs misuse bugs you the most? Is it Bachmann’s use of Perry’s “Firework” or are there more egregious examples?

Read more:
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The State of the Union: Michelle Bachmann doesn’t look us in the eye

Comments (158 total) Add your comment
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  • megs

    this does not surprise me, being from minnesota, bachmann does/says A LOT of things w/o thinking them thru

    • LOL

      Bachmann Crazy Overdrive

      • MAV


      • V


      • Brandy Gehr

        Bachmann “Scorner” Overdrive seems to describe her true character!

      • Denise

        Yep Crazy is Right! Crazy as a March Hare.

    • Saran

      Bachmann Turn Her Overdrive!

      • Glory


    • Tracygrrrl

      Megs, my condolences. I just hope you’re not in her district. What are those people smoking?

      • Dessa

        Oh, @Tracygrrrl, it’s a very wealthy district with executives from 3M as her core constituency. So I don’t know, it’s not so much what they’re smoking as much as being drunk on power. They are people who believe that because they’re rich, they’re better than other people. And that is a very non-Minnesotan way to think. I just call them Crazy People.

      • mnrose

        Not everyone likes her…I’ve tried, goodness I’ve tried, but the 6th district is overwhelmingly conservative, and not necessarily the brightest.

  • Matt

    Does it irk me? Hell no! I think it’s hilarious.

    • Eric

      Yeah it irks me. The song is horrible. It sounds like a dog trying to find it’s voice.
      That droning yelping!!!!!!

      • KC

        Katy Perry looks like a brunette Jenny McCarty.
        Come to think of it, she’s equally annoying.

      • Brian Wallace

        I’ve noticed that too, KC. Utter lack of talent, annoying personality, questionable choice in men, big….lungs. Have you ever seen Jenny McCarthy and Katy Perry in the same place?


      • KC

        Haha. I was watching her being interviewed on Oprah a few months ago and she seemed to have stolen Jim Carrey’s personality and quirks. She’s some kind of human leech.
        Katy’s trying to do comedic-schtick like her unfunny husband.
        Maybe we’re onto something here…

      • KC

        Also, I missed the opportunity to point out “utter” lack of talent.
        Those utters are probably the only thing talented they both have.

  • Carly

    This is hilarious, especially considering her view on the LGBT community. She’d probably fall off her chair is she saw the Firework music video with the two boys kissing.

  • RJP

    Who cares….maybe she just likes the song. So much speculation over such trivial things

    • kate middleton

      Yeah, I agree. It’s just a song. And who knows if she even chose it since this wasn’t her event.

      • Ellen

        Exactly. Even if it was her event, a college intern might have chosen it.

      • kate middleton

        Totally, Ellen. Lame controversy. Michele isn’t sitting around choosing what songs she wants to enter to at random conferences/events and demanding they’re played. Silly.

      • Angela Davis

        Of course it matters. This is HER campaign…she’s already failing.

    • ST

      I agree and find it interesting that no Dems have apparently ever done this since they weren’t mentioned.

      • daisy

        maybe they are smart enough to get permission first :)

  • didi

    Ironically funny.

  • reel_deal

    Bachmann is an idiot, so it’s expected

  • Tom

    Did Bachmann’s campaign obtain the proper permissions to use the song? If no, that irks me. Otherwise, politicians are notoriously clueless when it comes to understanding pop culture. In Ms. Bachmann’s case clueless AND crazy is a rare combination made in comedic heaven. Look out Joe Biden, this woman is going to give you a run for your money when it comes to doing and saying nutty things.

    • kate middleton

      Dude, this wasn’t a campaign event. She was speaking at a conference of conservative bloggers. Tim Pawlenty also spoke – no word on what music he entered to.

      • Angela Davis

        TP entered with Milshake

  • Jacob

    I had to laugh when I heard Gaga’s Poker Face being used in Percy Jackson, during a scene at a casino. Unless the film had some more adult subtext, I’d say they weren’t quite aware of what the song was really about…

  • Jane

    Eh. These pols know that you’re only playing a snippet of the song and they want to get an image in your head and music is the quickest way to do it. When Sarah Palin used the song Barracuda for her intro, she didn’t mean to say that she was a slimy record company exec who was trying to sell Heart as a lesbian/sister couple. She just wanted to fix her nickname in people’s heads to suggest that she’s tough. It’s short-hand. But be honest, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if Bachmann was liberal, not because she agrees with the songs message but just because of her political orientation.

    • Jane

      BTW, it used to kill me going to weddings in the 80s and seeing the couple have their first dance to “Secret Lovers” by Atlantic Starr. I mean, it’s a song about two people cheating on their spouses. So yeah, it does bother me when people don’t listen to the message of the song, but I understand why politicians do it.

    • haha

      No its not because she’s republican, it is exactly because of her political stance. If a homophobic democrat played the song, it would be just as innappropriate and stupid. Do you really think the lgbt community is more favorable of homophobic democrats? The answer is no, there just happen to be less of them.

      • Jane

        There’s less of them? That’s a generalized statement too.

      • Fd

        Jane you are a joke

    • Fd

      You are wrong prove it

      • Mychyl

        Actually, Jane, it may be generalized, but it’s true. Keep in mind that the term used to define people who are in favor of GLBT rights is “social liberal”.

        Coincidence? Hardly.

  • RyanK

    You figure they would think twice before choosing a song from the same artist who sang “I kissed a girl”…

  • Sara

    Michele Bachmann irks me.

    • Summer


  • Annette

    Why doesn’t the author of this article just say “I hate Michele Bachmann and how dare she use this homosexual anthem?” Songs are different things to different people. This is just a dumb article.

    • Jen

      Word. Republicans are uncool, therefore you can diss them with no logic whatsoever

  • gypzyjedi

    I wonder if they got Katy Perry’s permission to use her song. The GOP is notorious for using songs without permission and then only stopping with a Cease and Desist letter AND THEN blaming liberal media for making them break the law….we all know the script. I don’t why they don’t just ask first or ask right wing artists to use their music. I mean Toby Keith, Reba McIntire…I can’t like of any more. Maybe that’s why. Lee Greenwoods been living off “Proud to be an American” , which seems to be the GOP default song. Prince is from Minnesota and still lives and works there…ask him. I think he is even a “holy roller” now.

    • Jane

      Why bother to ask the musicians when the musicians just automatically say no. They oblige when they get the Cease and Desist because at least they got to use the song if only once. It’s the whole “It’s eaiser to get forgiveness than permission” thing. It’s not right, but since the media does tend to hate on Republicans, what can they do?

      • Fd

        Jane you are wrong you are a joke

    • BamaBabe

      Yes! Prince songs for Bachmann. Good luck finding one that works. And I do hope the campaign did get proper permission to use the Katy Perry song.

      • Jane

        If you’re a Democrat (which your name suggests) you should probably hope the campaign didn’t get the rights. That way the musician can go after them in court and hit them up for fees.

      • Fd

        Jane you are moron

      • pastafarian

        I vote “Darling Nikki”.

      • Lalita

        Head…Controversy…Dirty Mind…?

    • Sara

      Funny thing…Keith is a democrat. He sure has those country music listeners snowed!

      • kate middleton

        Not really. He was previously a Dem, but I highly doubt he would have voted for Obama over McCain given how strongly pro-military Toby Keith is. I would bet money he voted for Bush in 2004 also.

    • Chet

      I don’t think Reba’s right wing, republican maybe but certainly not a wingnut like Bachmann

      • Mychyl

        Considering she’s a supporter of GLBT rights, she’s certainly not a conservative of the caliber of Bachmann, wherever she falls on the political scale.

  • Ellen

    This song isn’t just about gay people….in fact, unless you watched the video, there’s no way you would make the connection.

    I’m not voting for Bachmann, but I don’t think she misused the song. It’s a silly, get-pumped-up, self-empowerment song.

    • Jane

      True. I’ve never seen the video and just thought it was about empowerment, knowing your worth and not being afraid to show it. Had no idea that it applied to gay rights because I’d never seen the video. If this is the case, then it really isn’t a misunderstanding just based on the lyrics.

    • MC

      You’re right, Ellen, and even the video shows that it’s an empowerment anthem for all people (they also show an overweight girl and a child of an abusive family). Nevertheless, I would bet that no candidate chooses the music for events like this.

    • kate middleton

      Yeah, I haven’t seen the video, so had no clue it was about that. It’s not like “Born This Way”, where it’s super obvious just by listening. I thought Firework was about self empowerment and being proud of yourself.

  • glenn

    I was the DJ at a lot of weddings in the 90’s and the top 2 songs that the bride and groom requested as their first song were not appropriate. I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston is about ending a relationship and My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion is about losing someone you love.

    • t-bone

      I Will Always Love You was what popped into my head too!

      • marie

        At a wedding I attended a few years ago, the bride and groom *requested* Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me”…multiple times. It was most interesting to explain to my very traditional Italian grandmother…

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