Beastie Boys break anti-ad streak, license 'Sabotage' for Biden commercial featuring Ann Arbor's Blind Pig

Oct 19, 2020 at 10:51 am
click to enlarge Beastie Boys, 2004. - DFree /
DFree /
Beastie Boys, 2004.

While artists like Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Rhianna, Adele, Queen, R.E.M., Guns N' Roses, the Rolling Stones, and the estates of George Harrison and Tom Petty are fighting for their right to not have their music blasted at President Donald Trump's COVID-19 circle jerks — er, rallies, another group is doing their best to “Sabotage” Trump's chances by licensing a popular song for a Joe Biden ad.

In a political ad that ran during Sunday's Cleveland Browns–Pittsburgh Steelers game, viewers caught a snippet of rebellious rap-rock pioneers Beastie Boys' “Sabotage.”

The ad, which aimed to address the many venues and performance spaces at risk of shuttering due to the pandemic, features Joe Malcoun, co-owner of Ann Arbor's historic club, the Blind Pig. During its history, the 400-capacity club has hosted performances from Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth, and Nirvana. (During an MTV interview, Kurt Cobain had famously called out the Blind Pig as being the band's favorite venue on the planet.)

“For 50 years, the Blind Pig has been opened and crowded. But right now it's an empty room,” Malcoun said. “This is the reality of Trump's COVID response. We don’t know how much longer we can survive without any revenue. A lot of restaurants and bars that have been mainstays for years will not make it through this.”

“This is Donald Trump’s economy,” he adds. “There is no plan, and you don’t know how to go forward.”

Music fans likely heard the Pixies' “Where Is My Mind” in the background before transitioning into the Beastie Boys' “Sabotage,” which, for any other band, might seem like an unremarkable appearance.

But as AdWeek points out, this is virtually unheard of from the New York hip-hop act. The use of “Sabotage” is the first time they've licensed a song in support of a presidential candidate or for any commercial advertisement, and is only the third time they've approved the use of one of their songs since the 2012 death of Adam “MCA” Yauch. In the recent past, they've allowed the use of their songs in a Star Trek Beyond trailer in 2015 and an Activision game, Destiny 2, and have waged a legal battle with a toy company for using “Girls” in a commercial.

According to the Biden campaign, the remaining Beastie Boys approved the use of “Sabotage” due to “the importance of the election.” In recent months, the Beastie Boys' official Twitter account has been active in alerting fans of voter registration deadlines.

“DO NOT SLEEP!” one tweet reads, referencing the group's 1986 hit “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” in an effort to encourage fans to visit to confirm their registration status.

You can watch the ad below.

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