K’naan to Romney: Leave My Song Alone

K’Naan is not amused.

The Somali-born, Canadian-based artist’s song, Wavin’ Flag, was a massive breakout hit in 2009,  propelling the artist onto the world stage when Coca-Cola licensed the song for its FIFA World Cup coverage. The song is a powerful anthem, with lyrics telling a story of being born in a “violent prone, poor people zone/but it’s my home, all I have known.” The song continues “When I get older/I will be stronger/they’ll call me Freedom/just like a wavin’ flag.”

The inspirational and thrilling lyrics are no doubt appealing to political figures trying to strike a chord with their audience — figures like Mitt Romney, who used the song at a campaign event on Tuesday night. Only problem? He didn’t ask permission. And K’Naan was not impressed. He has made it clear: even if Romney had asked permission, K’Naan wouldn’t have granted it.  He released a statement that said, in part, “I have not been asked for permission by Mitt Romney’s campaign for the use of my song. If I had been asked, I would certainly not have granted it. I would happily grant the Obama campaign use of my song without prejudice.”  K’Naan is currently investigating his legal options.

But look how they treat us, make us believers
We fight their battles, then they deceive us

This isn’t the first time a political candidate, particularly a Republican one, has gotten into trouble over using unlicensed songs. A former band member of Survivor is taking legal action against Newt Gingrich for recent unauthorized use of their song Eye Of The Tiger. And Michelle Bachmann found herself in hot water with Tom Petty for unauthorized use of American Girl.


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Photo Credit: Coca-Cola South Africa on Flickr.


SeattleAnn S.
Ann S6 years ago

Funny story, I like this songwriter.

Michael MacDonald

@William Y.

You're dead on the money.
I work for music libraries and I can vouch for the fact that unless you sign off a song completely (which K'Naan didn't do) every artist has to be asked before a song is used.
Buying a cd does not give you the right to play that song at a bar for example.
you have to pay performance royalties to use a song commercially and get permission from the artist.

Michael MacDonald

This isn't the first time something like this has happened,
but I sure do know I would be upset if it happened to me.

K'Naan has every right to decide whether he wants his song used to support an ideology or not and good on him for standing up for his beliefs.

Jonathan N.
Jonathan N.6 years ago

Just goes to show you that information wants to be free. And Romney still has no clue how to relate to the untermenschen.

Lyn B.
Lyn B6 years ago

Good for him!

LOL! The republithugs just can't ever get it right, can they?!

I'm old enough to remember Bruce Springsteen being seriously steamed at the ol' gipper (Reagen) using it without his permission.
As well as the very simple fact that neither he nor the people running the campaign had bothered to read or learn the lyrics! The very songs they were using to promote "Morning in America" were an INDICTMENT AGAINST everything the Republithugs of yore stood for! ROFLMFAO!!!
And so.... if anyone dares to say "well, someone on his team did it", GEE, idiocy repeats itself, huh???!!!!

stacy m.
stacy modra6 years ago

that is...AWESOME!!! i might have to buy his cd now, just out of respect.

Anne Cole
.6 years ago

I remember the hissy fit the right had, when President Obama invited a rapper to the White House. Also I believe K'naan is a Muslim (could be wrong on that one). If so, points off to Romney for a double stupid.

Zana Zatanique
Jan Alexanian6 years ago

Bravo K'naan for standing up for your rights.

Shame on you, Romney and the rest of you politicos that refuse to obey the copyright laws and get permission. Are you operating on the premise that its easier to ask forgiveness than permission? Well rut roh....you got caught and hoist on your own petard!

Kathryn Pierce
Kathryn Pierce6 years ago

It just goes to show you how sincere they are: The politicians who are in the pockets of the RIAA and want to shut down the internet to stop the piracy are pirates themselves. Gosh, who would have thought that? Or maybe he thought it was OK because K'Naan didn't have a contract with the RIAA? What a two-faced bunch of a*- er, idiots.

Sara W.
Sara Williams6 years ago

Good for him! Protect his rights over his own song and stand up for what he believes in! I'm not surprised Romney thought he could blatantly disregard someone else's rights to try to make himself look more cool or popular with voters.