I don't know about you, but upon hearing that the psych-pop duo MGMT is threatening to sue Nicolas Sarkozy--as in President of France Nicolas Sarkozy--for copyright infringement over the unauthorized use of their song "Kids" in some online videos for his Union for a Popular Movement party, the first thought that popped into my head was, "Just how the H-E-double-freedom-fries does a song recorded by two Brooklyn NY-based Wesleyan University graduates wind up as a political campaign song on the Left Banke of Paris?"
The second thought was that maybe, just maybe, the song wound up in Sarkozy's ear by way of Mrs. Sarkozy--as in model/singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy--who, as the highest-charting music performer on the world political stage, may well have MGMT's
Oracular Spectacular CD on her moi-pod these days. After all, it was voted NME's Album of the Year just a Chunnel ride away in London a few months ago.
The third thought was that maybe Monsieur Sarkozy's decision to use "Kids" without MGMT's permission wasn't really, as a statement released by his party claimed, "an unintentional mistake." (An offer of $1.25 in symbolic damages was quickly dismissed by MGMT's lawyers as "insulting.") Why the suspicion? Well, perhaps Sarkozy listened not just to "Kids," but also Oracular's opening track "Time to Pretend," which includes the following lyrics: "Let's make some music, make some money, find some models for wives/I'll go to Paris take some heroin and f*** with the stars."
Which thus leads to the fourth thought: Maybe Sarkozy wanted to get back at Yankee brats Andrew Van Wyngarden and Ben Goldwasser for dissing life in gay Paree!
Can you say "International Incident" — in French?
Remarkably, this is actually the second musician vs. politician lawsuit to be in the news this week. Right here in America, a federal district court in Los Angeles declined to dismiss singer-songwriter Jackson Browne's lawsuit against John McCain and the Republican National Committee for unauthorized use of his song "Running On Empty" in an ad that popped up on the Web last fall during the Arizona Senator's failed Presidential bid. The video, which used the song to mock Barack Obama's call for gas conservation, so infuriated Obama supporter Browne that he immediately filed the lawsuit, which he remains determined to take all the way to court.
Browne's attorney says the court's decision is a "solid victory for songwriters and performers and reflects an affirmation of their intellectual property rights and their freedom from being conscripted as involuntary endorsers of political candidates and campaign messages."
Of course, in the run-up to the '08 election, "Running On Empty" wasn't the only song that McCain tried to use and then had to run away from (on either empty, or Viagra). As Browne's lawyer has reminded everyone, "They used a John Mellencamp song until he made them stop, and he used an ABBA song and a Frankie Valli song."
Which brings us to the fifth and final thought: Did John McCain really think touting music by a group from Sweden was going to help him get elected President of the United States?