Silversun Pickups ask Romney campaign to stop using ‘Panic Switch’

The Silversun Pickups, shown at this year's Grammy Awards, have asked Mitt Romney's campaign to stop using their song "Panic Switch."
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles times)

This post has been updated. Please see note at bottom for details.

Another political candidate is getting a cease-and-desist order from another rock act over the unauthorized use of a song during an election campaign. This time it’s Mitt Romney’s camp, which is being urged to stop playing the Silversun Pickups’ hit “Panic Switch.”

“We don’t like people going behind our backs, using our music without asking, and we don’t like the Romney campaign,” Silversun Pickups lead singer-guitarist Brian Aubert said in a statement issued Wednesday. “We’re nice, approachable people. We won’t bite. Unless you’re Mitt Romney! We were very close to just letting this go because the irony was too good. While he is inadvertently playing a song that describes his whole campaign, we doubt that ‘Panic Switch’ really sends the message he intends.”


The song’s chorus says:

When you see yourself in a crowded room

Do your fingers itch, are you pistol-whipped?

Will you step in line or release the glitch?

Can you fall asleep with a panic switch?

The statement said the band’s attorney has issued a cease-and-desist letter to the Romney campaign.

Various politicians have run into trouble over the years attempting to fire up their constituencies using familiar pop and rock songs against the wishes of the artists.


Jackson Browne successfully sued Arizona Sen. John McCain’s campaign in 2008 for using his song “Running On Empty,” and ‘80s rock group Survivor put a stop to Newt Gingrich’s use of their hit “Eye of the Tiger” during his failed campaign bid earlier this year.

And just last month, a Romney campaign’s attack ad directed at President Obama -- showing a clip of Obama singing a snippet from Al Green’s hit “Let’s Stay Together” -- was pulled from YouTube because the song’s publisher said the use constituted a violation of copyright.

[Update at 4:43 p.m.: Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul responded Wednesday stating, “The song was inadvertently played during event set-up before Gov. Romney arrived at the location. As anyone who attends Gov. Romney’s events knows, this is not a song we would have played intentionally. That said, it was covered under the campaign’s regular blanket license, but we will not play it again.”

Saul also noted that the Romney ad incorporating Obama’s singing has since been restored to YouTube.]


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