RALEIGH, United States (AFP) — Top musicians from Bruce Springsteen to Beyonce to Madonna rallied behind Hillary Clinton as the United States prepared to elect a new president Tuesday, adding A-list star power to a massive get-out-the-vote operation.
Springsteen, one of the biggest concert attractions in the rock universe, warmed up an election eve rally Monday night in Philadelphia, where he hailed Clinton for her “vision of an America where everyone counts.”
“Let’s all do our part so we can look back on 2016 and say we stood with Hillary Clinton on the right side of history,” Springsteen told the roughly 40,000 people assembled near Independence Hall.
Springsteen, who has long championed the US working class in song but avoided overt politics until 2004, charged that Republican candidate Donald Trump would “prioritize his own interests and ego before American democracy itself.”
The rally was the largest ever in Clinton’s bid to be America’s first woman president.
Springsteen was joined by fellow rocker Jon Bon Jovi as well as President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle.
Bon Jovi later flew with Clinton to another critical state, North Carolina, for a midnight rally with Lady Gaga, who urged civility after one of the most divisive elections in memory.
“I know that it is important for this message, too, to be spread — that we do not need to hate his followers,” Lady Gaga said to applause from a youthful audience in Raleigh.
Madonna meanwhile roused Clinton backers in New York with a surprise outdoor concert, taking out an acoustic guitar to perform hits including “Express Yourself.”
“As far as I’m concerned, we still live in an extremely chauvinistic, sexist, misogynist country and that is why Hillary Clinton needs to be president,” said Madonna, sporting a knit cap in the design of the US flag.
Madonna voiced dread over the prospect of a Trump presidency, asking the crowd in Washington Square: “Do we want to be the laughingstock of the planet?”
Trump denounces ‘filthy’ rap lyrics
While US pop stars have long leaned to the left, the tilt toward Clinton is unprecedented in a modern election, with Trump virtually shunned by the music world.
Trump spent the last days of his campaign repeatedly denouncing pop superstar Beyonce and her rap mogul husband Jay-Z, who played for Clinton on Friday in Ohio.
Trump hit back by claiming to have drawn bigger crowds. He took aim at language by Jay-Z, who like many rappers frequently uses profanity and did not edit his lyrics for the Clinton rally.
“Isn’t it amazing that… Jay-Z and Beyonce use filthy language in the songs, using words that if I ever said those words, it would be the reinstitution of the electric chair, right?” Trump told a rally in Florida.
Despite Trump’s concern about profanity, one of his few musical backers, hard rocker Ted Nugent, also used unprintable words when he introduced the Republican at a rally Sunday in Michigan.
Nugent, who has previously called for the death of Clinton and Obama, grabbed his crotch on stage and quipped, “I’ve got your blue state right here, black and blue,” referring to the color associated with the Democratic Party.
Nugent, a gun enthusiast, returned to introduce Trump late Monday and devoted his remarks to mocking animal rights activists.
Focus on turnout
Trump, who has described undocumented Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and boasted of forcing himself on women, has faced complaints from a long list of stars including the Rolling Stones and Adele for playing their songs at rallies.
Trump, a former reality television host, nonetheless has several backers in Hollywood, notably Clint Eastwood.
Celebrity entertainers invariably ensure large crowds at a point in the campaign when weak turnout would be optically disastrous.
But big-name performances also allow campaigns to collect contact details for sympathetic voters — crucial in the polarized country where elections increasingly are won by mobilizing turnout rather than persuading the undecided.
Other prominent artists who have performed for Clinton include Katy Perry — whose hit “Roar” has appeared in commercials — as well as Jennifer Lopez, Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder.
Chance the Rapper on Monday led droves of young voters to the polls in his hometown Chicago, glam singer Miley Cyrus knocked on students’ doors in Virginia and indie rockers The National played a free pro-Clinton show in their native Ohio.