The Biden-Harris campaign is targeting Gen-X/Xennial music nerds & it’s amazing

Baby Archie meets Archbishop Desmond Tutu during a visit to Africa

There’s been a lot of lowkey talk about how cool/interesting it is to have a Gen-Xer on a presidential ticket. Kamala Harris is 55 – she was born in 1964, which… I mean, most people define Gen-X as being born between 1965-1980. But that’s a huge gap, and I’ve always considered myself to be an Xennial (CB is Gen X though). In Kamala’s case, she seems so much younger and cooler than even Barack Obama (who was born just three years before her). Kamala would have been in her 20s in the 1980s and in her 30s in the 1990s, and that influences her shoewear (Converse and Timbs) and her musical taste, her film taste and her general political views. I’m also giving Kamala credit for this – the Biden-Harris campaign has an amazing new ad about the economy and the pandemic, and just listen to the music in this:

Yes. The Biden-Harris campaign licensed The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind” and Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. There’s not a lot of conversation about The Pixies licensing their song to the campaign, but that’s one of their songs which pops up sometimes in movies and ads. I assume Black Francis and Kim Deal and the rest of them were happy to license the song to Joe and Kamala. But the Beastie Boys keep a much tighter lid on when and where their songs are licensed, especially after Adam Yauch’s death in 2012. From Ad Week:

What makes this notable is that this is an exceedingly rare occurrence for the band, which is very advertising averse. This marks only the third time that the band gave its blessing after the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch in 2012. Yauch’s will prohibits the use of Beastie Boys music for ads, but the surviving members gave some projects the go-ahead. The first was for the Star Trek Beyond trailer in 2015, the second for Activision’s game Destiny 2 in 2017, and now, for the Democratic presidential candidate, a first for the band.

The ad that ran during the NFL game today features Joe Malcoun, the co-owner of Ann Arbor, Mich. bar Blind Pig. The venue has been around for 50 years, hosting some of the biggest acts in music, including Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Malcoun puts the tenuous fate of live music venues—especially his, which he says “has been open and crowded, but right now it’s an empty room”—squarely at the feet of Donald Trump.

“This is the reality of Trump’s [Covid-19] response,” he says. “My only hope for my family and for this business and my community is that Joe Biden wins this election.”

The Biden campaign said that the band sanctioned usage of the iconic song from the 1994 album Ill Communication “because of the importance of the election.” The ad is one of three targeting NFL fans as the campaigns enter the final stretch. Pixies song Where Is My Mind is also in the ad.

[From Ad Week]

The ad aired during the Browns/Steelers game this weekend and a certain segment – Gen X/Xennial music nerds, probably – were SO HAPPY about it. It’s amazing that the Biden-Harris campaign even sought out the remaining Beastie Boys and The Pixies for the licenses. The message of the ad is striking too: it’s not some dude sitting on a farm, lamenting “traditional values” or whatever. It’s relatable to a certain “micro-demographic” of people who are worried about iconic music venues being affected by the pandemic too.

Pixies live at Alexandra Palace

The Beastie Boys

Photos courtesy of WENN, Backgrid, the Biden-Harris campaign.

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51 Responses to “The Biden-Harris campaign is targeting Gen-X/Xennial music nerds & it’s amazing”

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  1. Mignionette says:

    This is GENIUS. Especially when you consider that every band has issued Trump with a cease and desist for playing their music.

    • a reader says:

      This made me cry for so many reasons.

      First, I’m squarely in the middle of GenX.

      Second, I’m a music writer for my local alt weekly.

      Third, my town’s local music scene – composed of a few thousand incredibly talented folks – is basically shut down right now and my friends in bands are literally starving. And don’t get me started on the folks who own the venues – they’re losing an unbelievable amount of money just paying to rent empty buildings.

      Fourth, I have saved nearly every concert ticket from every show I’ve attended since 1988. MUSIC IS LIFE.

      Fifth, Adam Yauch was my first crush and I’ve seen the Beastie Boys live 9 times. I know how adamant he was about not selling out, and how the remaining members fight to protect their legacy. The fact that they allowed the song to be used is HUGE.

      This is the first time I’ve ever felt like I’m the target audience of a political ad – LOL. They nailed it IMO.

      • CBCB says:

        Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t there like a 3 second sample from The Breeder’s “Canonball” at around 12 seconds?

        This is the first time a political ad has ever spoken to my generation’s white middle class music nerd nostalgia. If it helps Biden take Michigan, bring it on.

      • Caitrin says:

        CBCB: yeah, Breeders, Pixies and Beastie Boys all feature heavily in the spot.

      • Kitt says:

        You said it all.

  2. Sierra says:

    Texas is in play Democrats, continue to get those votes.

    And I am upset that Beach Boys are going to perform at a Trump Fundraiser this week. I love their songs.

    • Chaine says:

      It doesn’t surprise me. Bunch of elderly white guys, going to support one of their own. They are probably members at his Southern California golf club.

    • SpankyB says:

      It’s not the Beach Boys as a group, it’s just Mike Love (I believe) with some other dudes. The other surviving Beach Boys aren’t happy about him using their name.

      I’m not a huge Beach Boys fan so I may be getting their names mixed up.

      • LightPurple says:

        You are correct. It’s Mike Love and a backup band. Brian Wilson opposes this. Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston are silent. The other Beach Boys (Dennis and Carl Wilson) are dead. It’s basically a family feud between cousins Mike and Brian.

    • Jesma says:

      There are only 3 original founding members of The Beach Boys left. Two of them, including Brian Wilson are against this Trump benefit. Unfortunately, Love is a Trump supporter and has the current license to tour as The Beach Boys.

    • Oh-Dear says:

      the @HarrisCountyClerk has been a joy to read the last week!

      • Jack says:

        Chris Hollins is doing an amazing job in Harris County, although Houston has been blue for quite some time.

  3. Snuffles says:

    There is also a “Save Our Stages” campaign going on right now. A lot of artists trying to save those classic clubs that people used to go to to see live music. Like in DC it’s the 9:30 Club or all of the clubs in LA like The Troubadour or all of the clubs on Sunset Strip.

    Growing up I’ve been to the 9:30 Club and my brother practically lived there. When I was living in LA, I regularly hit up the Sunset Strip as it was just down the street from me. It was as easy as going to the movies. It was a lot of fun.

    I’m sure your average 20-something is missing this desperately and blames Trump for it.

    • Mac says:

      I’ve been going the 9:30 club since it was on F Street. I bought a bunch of their merch to try to help, but I am worried they won’t make it.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      the 930 club was one of my regs when I was at college in DC. that and the Bayou (RIP).

      and THANK YOU Kaiser for posting the Sabotage video…one of the BEST videos of all-time, IMO.

  4. Kittylouise says:

    I walked through Notting Hill yesterday and saw a Biden/Harris poster in someone’s window. Things are so hopeless in the UK people in London are looking to you guys for some hope. Please please please please win big Democrats.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      Oh, that is so sad. We Americans look to the Brits and others in western europe to be the sensible ones — socialized medicine, better schools, etc.

  5. Astrid says:

    That was an awesome commercial!

  6. Jensies says:

    Went to school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the Blind Pig is a huge presence with deep ties to the community. This is a GREAT ad to put out in Michigan especially.

  7. Caitrin says:

    I literally said this to my husband at 6:30 this morning when I saw that the Beastie Boys had signed off on using Sabotage – “This is targeted to us, Gen Xers.”

    And hell if I didn’t crank up the Breeders afterwards.

  8. Ann says:

    Love it!!!!!

  9. Merrie says:

    As a Gen-Xer (born 1976), I love this so much! I was never a huge Beastie Boys fan back in the day, but I read their memoir a couple of years ago and loved it. I gained newfound respect for the boys who readily admit they were too young and too stupid to realize the incredible things happening to them at the time. It was a love letter to Adam, the 80s, hip hop, musical legends, etc. Highly recommend it! I listened to the audio version and read the actual book, as it is arranged like a scrapbook.

  10. Nat says:

    I love this, thank you for the post! I live in Ann Arbor and the Blind Pig has been my favorite venue/bar for years!

  11. Catherine says:

    Kim Deel’s outfit at Glastonbury is 90’s REALNESS 💖

  12. StormsMama says:

    My husband had the game on and I was cleaning out the art drawer
    I heard the commercial as I cleaned-
    Was that the Breeders? Pixies?
    Then I’m looking at the tv, thinking can this be? And then the Beastie Boys
    And I got chills.
    So psyched when Biden said “and I approve this message”
    Immediately looked it up, posted about it on Instagram (it still had less than 500 views at that point) and sent the link to some friends.
    My husband teased me bc I happen to LOVE the Beasties. So he was like “yeah it’s cool but you’re just pumped bc it’s the Beasties” and I was like, no this is a big deal.
    This cuts right to the heart of so much of what is being sacrificed at the alter of Trump. He has absolutely no taste so of course all art, culture and music is of no use to him. But the value and need for live music, for small businesses, for landmark venues, it’s all what makes small towns, small cities, big cities special.
    And the desperation the owner expresses- his only hope for his business and his family- is Biden. I mean, yeah, I think we are all feeling that.
    So happy to see this morning that it’s just under 500,000 views and people are buzzing about it.
    Please vote.

  13. bettyrose says:

    Saw the Pixies opening for the Cure in 1989. Not that I need this type of motivation to vote, but I’ve said all along if Kamala isn’t on the ticket, Gen-X will never be in the white house. The Boomers have dominated for decades and the Millennials are coming in strong with their candidates. Obama was on the border – I think of him as more Gen X than Boomer, but let’s face it, Gen-X’s legacy is the Internet, not the White House.

    • paranormalgirl says:

      Obama, like Harris, should be classified in Generation Jones. We’re the generation that is not quite GenX (but pretty darned close), and DEFINITELY not a boomer.

      • SomeChick says:

        I’ve heard it called tweeners. But I think she qualifies as X.

      • bettyrose says:

        Love “Generation Jones.” I’ve never heard that before, but Wikipedia gave me the full rundown. Gen-X & Jones share the unique trait of not growing up in war time, something no other American generation has experienced (though Millenials & Z’ers haven’t had compulsory military service, they also haven’t had the option to earn the GI Bill without serving in active war zones).

      • TaraBest says:

        I haven’t heard of Generation Jones before! My dad was also born in ’64 and loves to jokingly say he’s a boomer. He does it to tease my mom who is a few years younger and would NEVER say she’s married to a boomer.

  14. Lala11_7 says:

    If you’ve heard the 🎶 before & after Biden-Harris events…you will HEAR how PHENOMENAL THE SELECTIONS ARE❣ And I teared 😢 up hearing The Pixies!

    I just came back from early voting…lines wrapped around the BUILDING…the poll workers…ARE ASTOUNDED!

    It is a good thing I had on a face shield and a mask…and was able to sit…because when I saw Kamala’s name on that ballot….the TEARS STARTED UNEXPECTEDLY…and it took a minute to compose myself…so much joy…so MUCH…pain…

  15. Hollah says:

    This ad is an amazing juxtaposition to all the recent videos of Trump looking out of touch bad dancing to Macho Man.

    • bettyrose says:

      Someone needs to explain to me the cognitive dissonance of dRumpf cultists being okay with their nazi king dancing to a song about being a sexy gay man (recorded by a group who is famously openly gay and multi-racial).

      • Betsy says:

        If they ever knew what it meant or where it came from, they wouldn’t like it so much. As it is, it’s a goofy wedding dance song. A song played at their kids’ football games. A song to remember their misspent youth.

  16. lucy2 says:

    Great ad.
    I’m so worried for all these small theaters and venues. As soon as it’s safe to do so, I want to go to a million events!

  17. paranormalgirl says:

    We need change. We need someone to start to heal our country. We cannot allow this buffoon to further destroy the US. We need to vote as if our lives depend on it. Because they do. Biden/Harris has my vote.

  18. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    I fall into the ” Baby Boomer” generation, but I listened to the Beasties Boys and the Pixies ALOT because of my daughters and even tho hard rock is still my jam (as the youngsters say) to this day, I love me some Beasties Boys and I was blown off my feet when the commercial came on. I was cleaning the kitchen and went “wait…WHAT IS HAPPENING????”
    Then the clincher. “and I approve this message”
    Gave me all the feels

  19. Kersplasha says:

    YES!!! I LOVE this ad.

  20. nicegirl says:

    1975 baby!!! Gen X whaaaatttt

    • Blueskies says:

      1971 here, aww yeah! I’m Canadian but I absolutely loved this ad and it’s unique focus. It definitely got my attention. Beastie Boys? Omg, huge, huge fan. Their green-lighting one of their songs is big and Yauch would certainly approve. I love the Pixies and Breeders, too. I had to immediately go listen to Where Is My Mind and it never fails to send chills through me. The late 80s, and the 90s have become very steeped in nostalgia. I’m looking forward to being able to see live shows again, too. Even when it’s deemed safe and/or there’s a vaccine, I think it’s going to take me a long time to feel comfortable going. :/

      I know you will all vote and we are with you. #BidenHarris

  21. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Hell yes. Perfection.

  22. LightPurple says:

    This isn’t just going to reach Gen X but everyone who works in such venues, bars, restaurants, concert halls, and theaters. The hospitality and entertainment industry has been decimated and they aren’t being heard. My sister works as an usher in several Boston theaters and concert venues and she is lucky that it is her second job. She says her co-workers are really struggling and their unions have been very active with trying to get out the vote for Biden-Harris.

  23. Jessica says:

    Also, shout out to The Breeders for “Cannonball”. Iconic Gen-X song.

  24. BeanieBean says:

    Sorry folks, but she’s a boomer. 1946-1964 is the post-WWII baby boom generation. 18 years is a considered a generation for demographic purposes.

  25. Gabriella says:

    My cousin just pointed out that Biden’s ads always end with him bounding up stairs which is such a slick burn!

    • VIV says:

      Bounding up the stairs saying “Imma set it straight” (also leaving you to fill in “this Watergate” so you know the accusation is there, but technically they didn’t make it). Using Where Is My Mind which with the ad says “my mind is with the people struggling “, but I also have to think is poking at Trump’s BS accusations of Biden’s mental state and then questioning Trump’s. I can’t say anything on the choice of Cannonball other than its a great song, maybe there’s something there too… Fantastic.