When the band’s guitarist Paul Langlois was notified that The Tragically Hip’s 1993 hit song Fifty-Mission Cap was played at an event for Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre this weekend, he called the news “highly offensive.”
A fan wrote to Langlois on Twitter and claimed the song was played at a meet-and-greet with Poilievre on Saturday at the Grand Olympia Hospitality and Convention Centre in Stoney Creek, Ont., east of Hamilton.
Langlois replied: “We certainly did not know this — highly offensive if true (we’ll wait to make sure and potentially confirm this) and if so, this will be stopped.”
The response triggered a wave of online support and outrage for Langlois and The Tragically Hip. Some praised his slamming of Poilievre and the CPC, while other longtime fans felt blindsided by the political stance.
Still, despite Langlois’ claims that the band was unaware their music was used, the venue has since confirmed that it did have the rights to play The Tragically Hip’s music.
In a statement on Monday, The Tragically Hip took a softer stance than Langlois had expressed on social media, but still requested political parties directly ask to use their music.
“It is (and has always been) our expectation that brands, political parties, or public figures wishing to use our music for a campaign first seek our approval,” the statement reads. “When we began to see posts and tweets from the event this weekend, the specifics were unclear.”
“It has now been confirmed that Saturday’s event took place in a venue licensed by SOCAN, which means the venue pays a fee to ensure artists and musicians are compensated appropriately when music is played on site. As such, specific permissions were not required in this case. We did not have the full details in our earlier posts — and now consider this matter resolved.”
Despite claims of a resolution, discourse about Langlois’ upset over the Conservative Party playing Fifty-Mission Cap is still snowballing online.
On Sunday, Langlois (albeit seemingly reluctantly) clarified his first statement on Twitter.
“I hate to have to clarify this but here goes: We have always been highly offended by anybody who doesn’t ask for our permission to use our music for a brand, a political party, or a public figure of any sort,” he wrote. “It’s just common courtesy to ask, and it applies to anyone and everyone.”
Langlois then replied to several Twitter users, many of whom were against his stance on the CPC using the Hip’s music. The guitarist clearly found entertainment in egging on folks who had been outraged by his earlier tweets.
“Am I allowed to play it while I’m working alone baking? Do I owe some royalties?” asked one person.
“No you’re not allowed,” responded Langlois.
“I’m having a party next weekend. Can I play your music for my guests?” tweeted another.
“Yes, thanks for asking but you didn’t have to,” replied Langlois.
“How offensive. Damn, and to think I was a hip [sic] fan. If I could take back every purchase, I would now,” read one tweet.
“Do it,” Langlois tweeted back.
At one point, the guitarist even wrote that “maybe I shouldn’t have commented publicly” but noted regardless he’s “kinda enjoyed all this a little bit.”
On Monday, Langlois posted his final tweet in the saga, and appeared to pose as an assistant named “Randolph” who claimed his boss was “sensitive and prone to lashing out.” It is unclear as of this writing if Randolph is a real person.
Langlois is definitely not the first musician to take issue with a politician using their music. Perhaps most famously, Bruce Springsteen insisted U.S. President Ronald Reagan cease using his song Born in the U.S.A. during his re-election campaign.
Last year, two members of the band Journey started a legal battle over the use of their song Don’t Stop Believin’ at events affiliated with Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.