Pharrell threatens to sue Donald Trump over the use of his song 'Happy' at an event
Last Saturday, a lone gunman fueled by anti-Semitic rage killed eleven people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. It is believed to be the deadliest attack on Jews in United States history. Hours later, President Trump gave a speech at the annual Future Farmers Of America convention in Indianapolis. He commenced the speech by condemning the massacre, calling it a "wicked act of mass murder" and "pure evil." Later in his speech he joked about canceling the event due to having a "bad hair day," which drew much criticism. Also, before Trump's speech, the organizers of the convention played the Pharrell Williams song Happy.
Pharrell was not happy about decision. His lawyer, Howard King, sent the president a cease-and-desist letter. King wrote, "Pharrell has not, and will not, grant you permission to publicly perform or otherwise broadcast or disseminate any of his music. On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged ‘nationalist’, you played his song Happy to a crowd at a political event in Indiana. There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose."
The organizers of the FFA convention are responsible for playing Happy, not President Trump. But nonetheless, the decision made for bad optics. In the past, Trump has been criticized for appearing to show a lack of empathy after tragedies. When he met with Parkland shooting survivors, he held notes reminding him to say basic statements like "I hear you." On his way to a 9/11 memorial service, he did an double fist pump, more fit for a Whitesnake concert than a solemn event. And in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, he casually tossed rolls of paper towels into a crowd of hurricane victims.
During his speech at the FFA convention, Trump defended his decision to appear hours after the synagogue shooting. "At first, I was thinking 'I'll cancel' and then I said we can't let evil change our life and change our schedule," said Trump. "Otherwise, we give them too much credit, we make them too important." Fair enough, but he appeared to hold the opposite opinion six years ago. In 2012, President Obama appeared at a fundraiser in Las Vegas the day after the Benghazi attack, in which four Americans were killed. Trump tweeted, "How did Obama go to a Las Vegas fundraiser on 9.12, the day after he refused to send help to Americans in Benghazi?"
Well, it you're planning to watch Trump speak at an event, don't expect to hear the song Happy. Pharrell isn't the first musician to send him a cease-and-desist letter. Adele, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Queen, and REM have all forbidden Trump from playing their songs. Or, as REM singer Michael Stipe colorfully put it in 2015, "Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign." But don't worry, Donald. You can always use songs from your BFF Kanye West.