And Finally Artist News

Donald Trump bows out with one final blast of YMCA

By | Published on Thursday 21 January 2021

Donald Trump

Donald Trump brought his four year run as the actual president of the actual United States of actual America to an end yesterday with one last blast of the Village People’s 1978 single ‘YMCA’.

That ‘YMCA’ has become Trump’s sort of official theme tune as president is, I think everyone can agree, by far the most confusing thing that has happened in the last four years. Even if taken at face value and without any cultural context, what in the lyrics could possibly suggest ‘YMCA’ as a song to define the leader of the free world?

Although, maybe a confusing song choice is appropriate for a confusing presidency. And certainly very little about Trump’s big farewell speech yesterday made any sense.

He said he wished “the new administration great luck and great success” and that he believed they “will have great success”. Although he was still so angry about losing last year’s presidential election that he couldn’t bring himself to mention Joe Biden by name. He also skipped any of the usual formalities of the handover of power, including refusing to attend Biden’s inauguration.

Trump also warned people to be “very, very careful” of the “horrible” pandemic, despite spending months dismissing it and paying little attention to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died as a result of COVID-19 over the last nine months.

On top of all that there were his actual closing words: “Have a good life. We will see you soon”. Which hardly sounds like a sign off that concludes four years as one of the most powerful people in the world. It’s a bit more like your uncle stumbling over his words at the end of a Christmas Zoom call. “Have a good life! Er… I mean, be good. Er… bye then! How do I turn this off?”

And then there was the very final scene of this very weird, over-long movie, in which Donald Trump rode off into the sunset to the sound of ‘YMCA’.

Which again poses the question, what’s that all about? I mean, the lyrics are generally believed to refer to hooking up with other men at the gym – even though lead Village Person Victor Willis once threatened to sue anyone who said that it was. Still, the track’s status as a gay anthem is one of the things that makes the song choice especially weird, given the generally assumed prejudices of many of Trump’s most enthusiastic fans.

I guess there is the line “you can do whatever you feel”, which could be used to define Trump’s presidency. Or maybe he likes the idea of there being somewhere that “you can hang out with all the boys”, you know, for some of that “locker room talk” he’s so keen on. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s been warning us all this time that his brand has become so damaged over the last four years that he’s now so broke he’s going to have to live in a YMCA. Could it have been a cry for help all along?

The only thing we do know is that Trump really, really likes the song. In some cases, when an artist publicly objected to their music being used at a Trump rally – and especially if they threatened to go legal – the president would drop that track from his events. Not so ‘YMCA’, though.

Previously the aforementioned Willis made it very clear that he wasn’t happy with Trump using the track, or another Village People song, ‘Macho Man’ (which was also weird), but to no avail.

Then, last November, the record label behind the Village People, Scorpio Music, said that it was planning to sue Donald Trump over his use of ‘YMCA’ in a video he shared on Twitter on election day. Legally speaking, it’s easier to take action over a song being used without permission in a video than it is when a song is used without permission at a rally or other event.

Willis also speculated that Trump was actually singing “M-A-G-A” in his head, instead of “Y-M-C-A”. Which, I suppose, is as good a theory as any we’ve come up with.

As for the new President’s theme tune, well – as part of his inauguration festivities – Joe Biden persuaded The New Radicals to reunite to play their 1998 hit ‘You Get What You Give’. The song was chosen because it was a favourite of Biden’s late son Beau. So, probably best not make any jokes about that. Which is a shame, because we had a great one ready to go about Biden misunderstanding calls among Democrat voters to implement a new, radical agenda.

Of course, the big difference there was The New Radicals were happy with Biden’s past use of their song, hence agreeing to actually perform it live. With Trump now gone, could Biden be about to usher in a brave new era where politicians only use songs at their events when they have the blessing of the musicians who made them? If so, it’s going to make filling our ‘and finally’ section much harder.