With 2016 presidential campaigns revving up, it seems like a month does not pass without another musical group complaining about certain politicians using their music at public events. Perhaps these complaints come from a place of embarrassment. Perhaps they are fueled by loathing of the offending politicians. Either way, there is a definite concern among high-profile rockers that their image or (more likely) their ego will be bruised by having their name linked to a campaign they disagree with. But thirteen years ago this week, the subject of a band not wanting their name associated with something else came in the form of a spat between Brit rockers Muse and beloved Canadian icon Celine Dion.
In October of 2002, Muse took aim Dion over the illegal use of their name as the show title for her first Las Vegas residency. Dion’s lawyers reportedly offered Muse $50,000 for the rights to use their name in America, an offer the band rejected. When Dion’s team responded that they would use the name anyway, Muse returned with a threat to sue. Official statements from the band indicate that the issue did not really revolve around too low of an offer for the rights, but had more to do with the band not wanting their name associated with commercial products from the show (mainly CDs and apparel). Once the potential for a legal headache was on the table, Dion’s crew backed down, and she decided to go with another name for her show.
Muse has always been vocal about a variety of social/political/economic issues, sometimes presenting their music with a quasi-revolutionary aesthetic, so it’s not a surprise that they might take a hard-nosed stance against their name being used to sell work that was not their own. On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if they might have been more lenient toward, say, Metallica or some other badass band, rather than the perfumey pop star.
Check out a mashup of songs by Muse and Celine Dion: