Trump campaign faces legal action after refusing to stop playing YMCA

Lawyer says disco anthem’s use for ‘political purposes’ was a ‘misappropriation’ by Trump

Gino Spocchia
Friday 06 November 2020 12:50 GMT
Trump shares video of him dancing to YMCA

The record label that represents The Village People will launch legal action against Donald Trump, whose use of the song “YMCA” at campaign rallies was said to have been unauthorised.

Lawyers will submit a complaint “in the next few days”, Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday, following the Republican president’s use of the 1978 disco anthem.

The 73-year-old had danced to YMCA at recent campaign rallies, which see him and the song – widely considered a gay anthem – become viral hits on social media.

The rights holders, who include the Parisian record label Scorpio Music, were said to “have discovered with amazement this misappropriation,” lawyer Richard Malka said on Thursday.

“Moreover for partisan and electoral purposes for the benefit of Donald Trump, which they would never have accepted,” said Mr Malka.

The unauthorised use of the song will “be the subject of a complaint in the next few days, both in France and in the United States, against any initiator or accomplice of what constitutes outright theft of the property of others “, he added.

Scorpio Music, a French music label and record company, was established in 1976 by Henri Belolo, who co-founded The Village People and co-wrote YMCA with another French writer, Jacques Morali, and Village People lead singer Victor Willis.

Mr Willis said recently that neither he or the band endorsed Mr Trump, and that they had asked his campaign to stop using their songs.

“Donald Trump does what Donald Trump does,” he said to the BBC. “I’ve never seen him actually put his hands up and make the YMCA. He’s changed it to M-A-G-A or something.”

“Democrat or Repulican, they all like YMCA, and that is something that's very pleasing to me,” added Mr Willis.

The song became a popular disco anthem in the 1970s and 1980s, and saw the band became standard bearers for the international gay community.

The Village People had success on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the 1970s with “YMCA”, “In the Navy” and “Macho Man” – another song recently added to Mr Trump presidential campaign playlist.

According to the Associated Press, The Village People said several months ago that they did not object to Mr Trump’s use of their songs, but they “prefer[ed] our music be kept out of politics.”

The announcement of legal action on Thursday came as Mr Trump looked increasingly likely to be defeated in the US presidential election.

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