WASHINGTON (TND) — A "song" credited to former President Donald Trump and the “J6 Prison Choir” has been sitting at #1 on the iTunes top song chart since Monday.
“Justice For All” features an oscillating mix of two recordings, one a lo-fi track of a group of people singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” and the other one of Trump saying the Pledge of Allegiance as rousing, ambient drone of sound swells behind them.
The group of people – the J6 Prison Choir – are all prisoners who have been convicted for participating in the riots and attack on the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 – an event the House Select Committee that investigated the day called an “attempted coup” on the U.S. government.
The song, produced by an uncredited and unknown individual, debuted on March 3 and hit the top spot on the iTunes charts Friday. According to the music sales tracking service Luminate, the track sold 4,800 downloads to reach the top and sold 22,500 over the weekend and up until Monday.
“That strikes me as a substantial amount of downloads,” an executive in the music-technology business not associated with the release, who asked not to be named given the contentious nature of the song, told Forbes Monday.
Sales of music – both digital and physical – have been declining since the boom of streaming technology (the World Economic Forum reported last April that streaming accounts for 65% of the recording industry’s revenue). So, as more fans of, say, Miley Cyrus – whose song “Flowers” had held the #1 spot until Friday – consume her content through streaming platforms, that allows for sales-driven projects like this to boom.
Luminate did estimate that “Justice For All” had been streamed around 600,000 times by Monday across video and audio platforms (as of Wednesday and official YouTube stream had 650,00 views). “That’s not a ton,” the same music executive told Forbes. “You often see a song that really takes off get millions and millions of streams in the first few days. That’s less impressive than the downloads.
As a result, the song has not cracked into the Billboard charts. However, Erica Knight, a spokesperson for Kash Patel, a former Trump administration staffer who is involved with the recording, also told Forbes she expects to see the song on multiple charts when they release Tuesday.
The single retails for $1.29 on the iTunes store and $100 vinyl copies are also available for retail, with proceeds said to be going to benefit the families of those imprisoned.
Experts in the legal and government ethics fields have been quick to condemn the “song," which follows an ongoing pattern by right-wing media and politicians to downplay the events of Jan. 6.
In a tweet from the single’s release date, Robert Maguire, research director for the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said: “I have never been more repulsed by the mere existence of a song than one sung by a president who tried to do a coup and a literal ‘choir’ of insurrectionists who tried to help him.”
He followed up by confirming it was even more heinous — in his eyes and ears — than a track put together by members of the Utah House of Representatives in 2018, in which they rap about a piece of legislation.
Barb McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former US attorney, similarly decried the song on Twitter, calling it “a disinformation tactic right out of the authoritarian playbook” and an attempt to “wrap lies in patriotism.”