With the CIA finally publicly neither confirming nor denying they wrote the Scorpions' hit song “Wind of Change” to bring about the fall of the Berlin wall, it’s time to work out where that power ballad ranks in the CIA’s back catalog.
8. “Umbrella,” Rihanna (2007). Originally titled “You Can Stand Under the Umbrella of the Very Protection We Provide (But Do Not Question the Manner in Which We Provide It),” it was intended to bolster US community sentiment on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rihanna tweaked the lyrics a little though and, while a monster hit, the song’s message was lost.
7. “Guantanamo,” The Beach Boys (2005). This re-make of “Kokomo” didn’t have the success of the original. Despite John Stamos returning on bongos, the song utterly failed to rebrand Guantanamo Bay as the Key Largo of military detention facilities.
6. “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Billy Joel (1989). Really just a record-keeping exercise.
5. “Rainbow Connection,” The Muppets (1979). The CIA bankrolled early Muppets activities to help smuggle weapons; puppeteers could easily operate a medium-sized handgun with an old school variety hour as the perfect cover. The CIA abandoned this though when a grenade launcher inside a Muppet code-named “Beaker” exploded on camera, and the CIA had to pretend it was part of the act.
4. “Get Out of My Dreams, Get into My Car,” Billy Ocean (1988). After the Muppets covert assassination squad was disbanded, the CIA turned to strategic kidnapping to topple regimes. CIA field agents inexplicably focused mostly on nightclub districts rather than actual government strongholds, which blunted effectiveness.
3. “Please Mr. Ayatollah (Release the Hostages),” Jimmy Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine (1979). JCSM went on to a relatively successful career in the late '80s; dropping “Jimmy” from their name enabled them to capitalize on the lucrative Reagan-voting, stock-broking, cocaine-ingesting market. But this early song failed, peaking at a mediocre 98 on Billboard’s charts.
2. “Wind of Change,” The Scorpions (1990). Single-handedly brought down the Berlin wall. Well, that and hammers.
1. “Baseless Rumors (Everything You’ve Heard about the CIA’s Use of Popular Music is a Bald-Faced Lie),” Taylor Swift (2021). Swift is yet to enter the studio to record this haunting, yet informative, power ballad, which is intended to be the opener on her next album, tentatively titled “Give our Patriotic US Authorities Some Goddamn Unquestioning Loyalty, You Ungrateful Lousy Traitors.” However, unnamed sources in the music and intelligence community say the song “slaps harder than I do at an interrogation at an undisclosed location in Northeastern Pakistan.”