Musicians, fans join online political fray

Eminem leads left-leaning musicians taking their political view online. Where are the Bush-friendly artists?

Alorie Gilbert
Alorie Gilbert Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Alorie Gilbert
writes about software, spy chips and the high-tech workplace.
3 min read
Musicians and their fans are turning up the volume on online political rhetoric ahead of the U.S. presidential election.

Last week saw the release of a politically charged music video from rap star Eminem. The animated video is set to the song "Mosh," from the artist's new album, and was released online the day before its TV debut on MTV on Wednesday.

In the video, a menacing Eminem marches toward a government building flanked by legions of people wearing black, hooded sweatshirts. The video ends with the mob shedding their hoods and entering voting booths, and from the angry, anti-Bush lyrics, it's safe to assume most aren't voting Republican.

On the other side of the musical spectrum, but on the same side of the political one, is a new version of the Halloween classic "Monster Mash," which debuted on the Web earlier this month. It's also set to animation, and it features new lyrics by the original singer, Bobby "Borris" Pickett.

The reworked song, titled "Monster Slash," takes the Bush administration to task for its environmental policies, depicting the president wielding a chainsaw through a forest. The song has drawn more than 100,000 unique visitors to its site, according to the Campaign to Protect America's Lands and Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, which sponsored it.

Music fans also have caught election fever. Led by Chicago-based blogger Craig Bonnell, a group of more than 30 blogs dedicated to music and sharing it online have suspended regular blogging activity. They're each featuring a message urging visitors to vote and won't resume posting until after election day, Bonnell said.

"Hey!! Stop what you're doing!" the message reads. "You're not going to find that Arcade Fire live bootleg today, you're not going to stumble across the b-side to "Hand In Glove," and you're not going to find the unreleased Pixies album. What you need to do is get ready to vote in the most important election of our lives."

Bonnell, who came up with the idea after a bout of insomnia one night, said the get-out-the-vote message is supposed to be nonpartisan, pointing out that many of the participating blogs include links to both candidates' Web sites. Some also include election-themed music downloads, which, Bonnell noted, makes it harder to stay politically neutral. His site links to Eminem's "Mosh" video and a song called "Poor GW" by the Creekdippers.

"There aren't too many pro-Bush songs," he said. "So, this is as bi-partisan as it can be, I guess."

What about music stars who support the Republican ticket? Although several, including Britney Spears, Alice Cooper, and Ted Nugent, have talked publicly about supporting Bush, fewer of them appear to be taking up the cause online.

Nugent is the exception. His Web site features a get-out-the-vote message, entitled "Vote or Die 2004," that endorses Bush, along side ads for ammunition, a gun camp for kids and Nugent's own hunting show on cable TV.

Nugent also gives Eminem a run for the money with his "political protest anthem," "Stand." The sometimes profane lyrics hammer Democrats, including presidential candidate John Kerry. The site offers the song as a CD single for $9.99.