Madonna, Springsteen: Pop music has no place in politics

Madonna, Springsteen: Pop music has no place in politics


norman lebrecht

November 09, 2016

Of the many things that were wrong with the Hillary campaign one was its stuck-in-the-90s methods.

Barbra Streisand might have brought out a few votes in that comparatively innocent era.

Nobody lets pop music change their mind nowadays.

madonna lang lang

Not even Madonna.

And Bruce Springsteen signally failed to chime in blue-collar states.



  • Ben says:

    Seriously, the working class couldn’t care less about the Prez’s gender, as long as the economy is taken care of, and they live a good, stable life. That is exactly what’s wrong with Hillary: Focus too much on ‘Dawn of a New (Female) Era’. A new chapter in new gender equality. A symbolism of new political power, new ceiling, new whatever, for female. Make history, etc. Who cares. The mass public don’t vote for someone just for the sake of making history.

    For God’s sake, there are already online stories of mom crying and hugging their daughters just because Hillary has lost. They were totally heart-broken due to a lost hope for more powerful women in America. Kinda put the whole Hillary issue in a nutshell.

    Hopefully the same issue is recognized in the classical music world, especially in the conducting field. Truly we don’t care so much about the conductor’s gender — just be competent and artistic in it. Stop promoting female conductor (or principal players or execs etc) simply because ‘we want more female’. etc

    • John Williams says:

      Absolutely correct.

    • William Safford says:

      White privilege, mirror. Mirror, white privilege.

      • David Osborne says:

        Wrong. Stop telling blue collar, manufacturing industry workers who have not been able to work since losing their jobs in the GFC, in a country where there is bugger all social security and no medical safety net that they are privileged. Trump is the wrong answer but while those who should know better were asleep at the wheel, he took ownership of the question.

        • William Safford says:

          Wrong yourself. Merely by the color of their skin, they have privileges that are denied to millions of their fellow citizens.

          Statistically, they can have a high school education and a criminal record, and be more likely to be hired than an Aftican-American with a college degree and a clean record.

          Does this mean that their lives are halcyon? Not necessarily. But let’s be clear: a large part of the voting block for Trump was white blue-collar men with salaries over $50K. These are not oppressed white poor.

          Trump lied to America, over and over and over. They lapped up his lies, in part because Trump played up to their prejudices.

          What he did not lie about was his bigotry and xenophobia. Not only were he and his father sued for racial discrimination in housing, and lost, but they had to be sued a second time to force compliance with the first lawsuit.

          A vote for Trump was a performative act of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and bigotry. Or of profound denial. Or both.

          • M2N2K says:

            Or something that is highly intelligent and quite different from all of this evil.

          • David Osborne says:

            No let’s be absolutely clear about this. Sure the deplorables voted for Trump but they were always going to. Elections are decided by a somewhat smaller contingent of swinging voters, and in this case it was the powerless and angry, those disenfranchised by neoliberalism whose true champion would have been Bernie Sanders. They are who put this ass in the White House. To suggest that they are not privileged is not being disrespectful of those disenfranchised by race, gender or sexual orientation. All that is real and awful. But the political left also owes this costituency some consideration. Unfortunately for too long their plight has been put in the too hard basket and we’re all now living with the consequences.

          • William Safford says:

            Sanders is not a neoliberal. He’s a democratic socialist.

            There’s more to parse, but that can wait for another day.

    • Pamela Bowen says:

      I totally agree and I find it very interesting that Donald Trump relates better with the Working Class People than Bruce Springsteen. he and the rest of the people living in la-la land should should stick to what they know best music and being wealthy

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Who cares about the opinions of pop “artists”? They are the real “deplorables”, just (seemingly) rich.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Don’t infer too many clever lessons from Trump’s win.

    Like Bush in 2000, he didn’t actually get the most votes.

    Once again, we are stuck with something we didn’t vote for.

    • mbhaz says:

      That’s incorrect. We very much did vote for Trump. The office of President is based on Electoral Votes, not popular votes. The Electoral Votes are determined at the state level by the popular vote. Trump is not illegitimate and his election was not rigged: it’s the way the founders set up voting – and it was genius.

      • Robert Holmén says:

        Yes, it’s “very much” if getting less than 50% and getting less than even the loser is “very much”.

        There are no other circumstances in life where we’d describe such a result with “very much.”

        I said nothing about “rigged” or “illegitimate”, but that’s what we’d be hearing if this outcome were reversed.

        As I already noted, Trump won the post, but he’s fooling himself if he thinks it was by “very much”.

        I’m familiar with the Electoral College. I’ve lived here all my life. One of the reasons “the founders” created it was to give the slave states more influence in the election than their voting populations would normally merit.

        That “genius” worked so well last time we swore in the second place guy, we’re still paying for the damage.

        • M2N2K says:

          You and I may not like “electoral college” system, but that is the law in USA, and all candidates manage their campaigns, geographically speaking, according to these rules. This is a large country and no one can campaign everywhere equally, so they have to make choices and they make them in a way that targets maximum possible electoral votes, not maximum popular votes. Therefore, referring to popular vote numbers as if they indicate anything is meaningless, because this is not how the winner is determined and so the candidates are never concerned about it. If popular vote was decisive, candidates would have campaigned completely differently and therefore the results would have been different as well.

      • William Safford says:

        “Trump is not illegitimate and his election was not rigged: it’s the way the founders set up voting – and it was genius.”

        Alas, I agree that Trump is elected legitimately. I have seen no evidence of rigging, his pre-election demagoguery notwithstanding. (Republican efforts at voter suppression is a continuing concern in this country, but I have not heard any allegations yet that the election hinged on it.)

        However, you are mistaken about the Electoral College.

        The Electoral College system set up in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers failed in the Election of 1800.

        After that debacle, it was substantially modified by the 12th Amendment. People who were of the next generation worked with several Founding Fathers in this process.

        As for it being “genius,” well, I do not share that opinion. The primary purpose of the original version of the Electoral College was to come up with some system agreeable to all to get the ball rolling and to get Washington elected, since it was generally acknowledged that he would be the first President.

        Its failures led to the 12th Amendment, which still has inherent flaws. We have seen the flaws manifest themselves several times in our history: the elections of 1824, 1876, and 2000 come immediately to mind.

        Is a result that yields a winner with a minority of the vote inherently democratic? That is a discussion for another time.

      • bobby says:

        i thought trump said the elctions were rigged no?

  • Anon says:

    Pop artists, actors, and the rest are well-known for being good at what they do. Why anyone thinks that that qualifies them to pontificate on or be a guiding light on political matters which are not their area of expertise I don’t know.

    • David Osborne says:

      If you’re referring to someone like Bruce Springsteen who Norman referred to above, with his track record of political activism and putting his money where his mouth is going back 40+ years, you are utterly wrong. You know I do find this sort ignorance quite breathtaking. I’m not a Bruce Springsteen fan but to refer to him as a ‘pop’ musician as if he’s somehow akin to Justin Bieber speaks volumes. If you haven’t taken the trouble to learn about how someone like Springsteen is definitely qualified to comment on political issues, maybe leave off commenting until you do.

      • Vicki Robertson says:

        You are obviously …. well you don’t even warrant an explanation if you have the audacity & ignorance to say anything negative about Springsteen!

    • Robert Holmén says:

      Yes, let’s only allow the people who are bad at what they do to pontificate and tell the ones who are good at what they do to button it.

    • V.Lind says:

      You are saying the people who voted for Trump (or Hillary Clinton, for that matter) use EXPERTISE? Did you see none of the rallies, where ignorance and mob rule and vitriol and hatred held sway? How is this somehow better than people who are professional in one field — and citizens of their country — expressing their views? In the booth they only had one vote, same as everyone else.

      I fail to see why choosing one profession over another, and succeeding at it, somehow disenfranchises certain citizens.

      • Pianofortissimo says:

        The ‘mob rule’ is as a rule wrong, but it can also be the last resource of angry, frustrated people who decided to solve the problem by themselves. Politicians, some more than others, live in an idealized fantasy world where there is no place for common people, which only want to have a good and safe life while politicians want to ‘make History’ and forget that a government should function first for the good of the country it governs. ‘Liberal’ politicians and ‘pop’ people have much in common – they are mode conscious and follow ‘progressive’ trends and don’t care about common people. That problem is even more urgent in Europe, and if the EU insists in going on in its current track we are going to see a complete ‘Trumpization’ in European politics as well (it’s already on the way

  • David Osborne says:

    And Norman please, just yesterday you posted that lovely piece by Anthony McGill. How is he better qualified to comment than Springsteen? On the other hand, if you are referring only to the ineffectiveness of celebrity endorsement in general this time round (and I think you are), then you have a point.

  • Cyril Blair says:

    “Nobody lets pop music change their mind nowadays.”

    Many people seem to think that lots of things the candidates do in the last few weeks are an effort to change minds. This is almost never the case. The candidates realize that usually people’s opinions are set in stone. A lot of the things the candidates do are simply GOTV (get out the vote). Get your turnout numbers higher. Inspire the people who are already inclined to vote for you, but aren’t feeling overwhelmingly enthused, or are thinking their vote doesn’t matter this time around.

  • Gerald Martin says:

    I hope this criticism includes Ted Nugent flopping around onstage for Trump.

  • Ken says:

    Almost none of the current performers on top 40 radio write their own music, they have no subatance or opinions and are like sheeple herded by politicians to puppet endorsements, no different than the music they perform to. None of Demonna’s hit songs are written by her. Politicans keep these idiots relevant because they are PUPPETS.

    Bernie Sanders was the presumptive nominee of the general election, the DNC screwed him over, the President and his ilk by allowing DNC corruption and picking one of the most disliked/unfavorable candidates in U.S. history over Bernie who comes with highest approval rating are to blame for Democrats loss. Please take the time to write to him and let him know he destroyed his own legacy and he does not represent the people of the United States of America!

  • Tony says:

    Pop music has no place in politics but the host of a reality tv show becomes president! The politics of your redneck nation is a farce!