League of Legends publisher, Riot Games told The Washington Post on Friday that it does not own the rights to the song. Instead, it is available for use by anyone who signs up with Universal Production Music, a business-to-business company that produces and licenses songs for use in movies, trailers, games and ads.
The song, “The Throw Down,” by Gregg Lehrman, features “insistent and quick staccato strings” and a “driving hip-hop beat” with “huge distorted guitars, and a sweeping melodic orchestra as it builds to a climax,” according to Universal’s website. It’s featured in the 2012 collection, “Hip-hop Symphony No. 1” under the “epic urban” genre.
A Riot Games broadcast producer in Germany also addressed the game’s usage of music on Twitter.
“We both use our own original music, license music from third party ‘production music’ sources, and more,” John Daniel Depa wrote Friday. “I’ve heard music used on the [League Europeans Championship]/LCS on BBC’s ‘Interior Design Masters.’ It’s surreal at times, but a reality of production.”
Lehrman’s manager, Steve Nice, said they were not aware of Trump using the song, when contacted Friday by The Post. Nice said Lehrman hasn’t been active producing music for some time. Lehrman appears to have shifted focus from writing music to helping others write. He is currently founder and CEO of Output, a software solutions company for music composers.
Lehrman has been a prolific composer in the past, with his music appearing in everything from “The Daily Show” to Marvel film trailers to the Super Bowl. Lehrman had not responded to a request for comment from The Post at the time of this story’s publication.
There is a past record of songwriters being surprised or upset that their compositions are used by presidents and presidential hopefuls. Bruce Springsteen’s ire at Ronald Reagan for appropriating — and misunderstanding — “Born in the U.S.A.” is just one of several clashes.
Other musicians have reacted strongly to Trump’s use of their work. Earlier this week, R.E.M. bass player Mike Mills said the band is “exploring all legal avenues” to prevent the president from using their songs “Everybody Hurts” and “Losing My Religion.”
We are aware that the President* @realDonaldTrump continues to use our music at his rallies. We are exploring all legal avenues to prevent this, but if that’s not possible please know that we do not condone the use of our music by this fraud and con man.— Mike Mills ❄️💨⛄️ (@m_millsey) January 15, 2020
This is also not the first bizarre collision of fantasy video game music surfacing alongside political messaging.
In 2013, North Korea released a propaganda video showcasing American troops and Barack Obama behind a flaming foreground. The video was set against the bombastic, heroic theme song to The Elder Scrolls series.