Imagine for a moment that you are Donald Trump. It’s the day after your inauguration and you’re sitting in the Oval Office, taking a moment to really let your huge accomplishments sink in. Then you receive a text from your press secretary, Fox News anchor and former adversary Megyn Kelly. It reads, “Hey boy, let’s get in it, I’m gonna show you just how I spin it.”
If this slash fiction set-up sounds like an intriguing premise for a pop song, then meet the Trumpettes—a group (well, possibly, but we’ll get to that) of women around Los Angeles that makes music in support of Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign.
Listening to it for the first time, it’s unclear whether “Spin It,” the group’s most recent single, is satirical or not. The first song the Trumpettes released, “Trump Tsunami,” is similarly ambiguous, with its chorus, “Sit here close to me/ Come and be, my Trump tsunami/ We don’t have time to think/ ’Cause if we catch this, we will never sink.” It feels like a wink, but the rest of the lyrics are so vacuous they don’t even try to lampoon the imminently lampoonable Trump. For example, there’s the lines, “The thing that captured us is driving them insane/ It’s that ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, aaaaah that’s never been explained.”
I first learned about the Trumpettes through a strange press release that arrived in my inbox about the “Spin It” music video. I was immediately skeptical. There was little of what you’d usually find in such an announcement. It said the group had five members, but didn’t offer the names of any of them. It didn’t provide basic background information, like how the project came together, who had produced the song, or who had directed the video.
The press release was sent by someone from ChickPR.com, which is a URL parked on GoDaddy with no corresponding website. The domain was registered through third party service Domains By Proxy, a company that exists expressly for the purpose of registering domain names for people who don’t want their personal information to be searchable on the internet. The Trumpettes’s own website was registered using the same service.
The Trumpettes’s three existing songs—“Spin It,” “Trump Show,” and “Trump Tsunami”—were obviously made on a computer. The amateurish instrumentations reflect hip-hop and EDM’s current infiltration mainstream pop. They’re cobbled together competently enough, but you won’t find any earworm hooks or stand out vocal performances. In fact, in all the songs it sounds like there is a single singer, not the harmonies or alternating vocals you’d usually get from a pop group.
The music videos that accompany each song aren’t exactly cinematic, but the production values are a step or two better than what someone working with basic DIY filming and editing resources could accomplish. The “Trump Tsunami” video is a spliced together collage of Trump appearances on Fox News, Captain America action sequences, footage of ISIS, and Trump participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge. The “Trump Show” clip features what appears to be two teenagers and another young woman goofing off in front of a green screen on a rudimentary newsroom set. The aforementioned “Spin It” features a variety of setups around an office, some dispassionate choreography from five women in blonde wigs, and a Trump stand-in wearing a white “Make America Great Again” hat whose face is never shown.
It all felt like part of a performance art piece staged by someone with means and a reasonable amount of internet know-how. Hoping to get some answers, I exchanged emails with The Trumpettes’s publicist and set up an interview with someone named Rosee. It was not made clear at any point before our email conversation what her role in the band is or if she has a last name.
“We’re just happy girls who love singing,” Rosee told me over the phone. None of the other Trumpettes were on the call, and Rosee identified them only by their first names: Kelsey, Jessica, Marianne, Emily, Suzanne, and Jenny. She says that before the election, her and some of her friends, now the other members of the group, wrote poetry and love songs. It was Trump’s charisma that inspired them to focus on a more political subject matter. “We thought, ‘Oh gosh, we’ll use some of the songs that we’re writing, because our songs really tell a story,’” she said. “We thought we’d integrate the story of our songs with what was going on.”
Talking with Rosee, I got the distinct impression that she was making up the names and occupations of the other band members as she went along. During the course of our conversation, the number of band members inexplicably shot up from seven to nine. The press release only mentioned five. When I asked what everyone in the group does outside of music, Rosee began tossing out credentials like “MBA from San Francisco” and “pursuing a master’s in education at USC” without assigning them to any particular member of the group. When “Trump Tsunami” was making some internet waves back in the spring, a member of the Trumpettes, apparently named Raydea, was interviewed for a story on Vice titled “Is Donald Trump Sexy? An Investigation.” That piece lists the band as having four members.
When I asked Rosee if the songs represent an exercise in satire, or if their support was sincere, she gave the noncommittal response, “I would have to say they’re both. In some ways satirical, and in some ways it’s supportive. We were trying to have fun.”
Rosee did seem fixated on Donald Trump’s sex appeal. When we discussed “Spin It,” she said that the song was inspired in part by watching Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump trade verbal blows during one of the Republican primary debates. “Something was going on aside from this argument that was juicy and sexual,” she explained. Rosee dropped hints throughout our conversation that in the song, Kelly is a stand in for the members of the group. “Typically when girls look at men, you know, power is very sexy to us,” she said.
During our 41–minute conversation, Rosee barely commented on what exists of Trump’s campaign platform, except to say that she’s in favor of “letting people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” She doesn’t reference the wall on the border of Mexico or the banning Muslims from entering to the US. She does mention that one of the members of the Trumpettes works in apparel, and for that reason is supportive of Trump’s promise to negotiate a more favorable trade deal with China. Rosee also stipulated that none of the group’s members overtly dislike Hillary Clinton, adding, “I have to be honest, many of us adore her husband.”
Without being able to confirm or discredit the idea that the Trumpettes are a prank, after our talk I went on an investigative scavenger hunt that offered no clear find. Rosee told me that the Trumpettes were invited to perform at two separate fundraisers, one in Florida and one in Santa Barbara, but my attempts to check that with Trump’s campaign lead nowhere. I could tell by watching the “Fans React” video on the Trumpettes’s YouTube page that it was filmed in Los Angeles, but I got the distinct impression that the supposed random people who appear in it are being put up to it by the filmmaker.
I reached out to Alison Segel, the author of the aforementioned story on Vice, and asked about her experience interviewing the Trumpettes. She explained that the interview was set up through the band’s manager, someone named Rich. Apparently Rich took her questions, asked them to someone named Raydea (I should point out that’s a name never mentioned by Rosee), and then transcribed her answers and sent them back. “I had the gut instinct that no ACTUAL band existed?” Segel wrote in an email. She explained that the answers she received “seemed like someone impersonating how a young girl should sound.”
The Trumpettes would like us to believe that they are a group of young, chic Los Angeles girls who get together and write love songs for Donald Trump when they aren’t busy furthering their educations or working as Beverly Hills shop girls. But nothing about that construction feels real. It comes off as someone trying too hard to go viral. They even lack the unpolished, amateurish aesthetic that made Obama Girl from the 2008 election seem creepily genuine, and that, coupled with the fact that most of the group’s members probably don’t exist, might explain why Obama Girl was a viral sensation with over 26 million YouTube views and the Trumpettes’ most popular video only has around 25,000.
The Trumpettes are also suffering from poor timing. Even if you don’t go on a fact-finding quest to try and dig up the true identity behind the group, the weirdness of the videos and the Everything is Terrible songwriting quality should at least give you pause. But in an election with no shortage of other, weirder shit happening, pointing out the bizarre aura of the Trumpettes is like pointing out a dent in the fender of a completely totalled car.