Not that bad of a phenomenon, IMHO, and here's why I think that :

everything2 sets mode : +soapbox discofever

The main reason why these songs placed inside of telly adverts is distasteful is because you don't want to load up a Stones album and immediately associate 'Start Me Up' with Windows 95. So, to keep the music seperate in your head from the product, use that 'mute' button on your remote with extreme prejudice, or better yet, just leave the damned box off for a bit. Thus, seperation of song and product.

Once this is done, I personally think it's easy to enjoy a good song even after a commercial has saturated the bandwidth with it. The music is made to make you feel a certain way (soothed, bouncy, rebellious) and the commercials leverage the music to extend that feeling to the product. But that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the feeling of the music later. Commercials also use many visual artistic tricks to do the same function, and I've never seen anyone complain that their enjoyment of a Vermeer or a Caravaggio sullied because directors have knowingly copied the lighting styles of those two Old Masters.

Although I still cringe a bit when I hear 'What Do I Get' played on a car commercial.

discofever has quit everything2 (Ping timeout)

In the old days, commercial jingles were a genre unto themselves, all saccharine-sweet, and based in the pop-jazz of an old era. The demographic center of gravity decreed that the music not be far removed from that used in the days when radio was king. They might all be counted as "destroyed by use" from inception.

In the 60s, that changed, as baby boomers became a new target for advertisers. But, for the most part, you had jingles that were a mix of old style and the guitar-driven pop of the day - the jingles of the Pepsi Generation, for instance, or jingles sung (but not necessarily written) by bands like The Cowsills. Some of it was actually cool.

A new generation of jingle writers came in in the 70s, fluent in the pop styles of the day. But there was also a new phenomenon: recycling. Ajax brought back its "Ajax boom boom the foaming cleanser" in slightly revised form. Coca-Cola used "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", a song by The New Seekers, in their ads... Songwriters, like the two in The Cyrkle, transitioned into writing for advertising, and Barry Manilow did a jingle or two. And you had the beginning of the phenomenon of selling films with a "soundtrack" of hits-to-be; thank Robert Stigwood, I think.

In the 80s, recycling became de rigueur, especially if the song resonated with the baby boomers, who were now fully in place as Kings (and Queens) of Demographics. You had the California Raisins singing Marvin Gaye's "I Heard it Through the Grapevine". That was awful, though it was nice to know that Buddy Miles was picking up a paycheck for singing lead. The most notorious use of a song was in Nike's licensing of The Beatles' "Revolution" - something that neither John Lennon nor Paul McCartney would have allowed, but they never owned the rights to the song (I think, at this point, Michael Jackson did).

I remember one cool jingle since then: for Soft'n'Dri anti-perspirant. It was a better-than-the-real-thing approximation of late-80s New Wavey stuff. And kudos to the background music Honda used in its car ads for a while, various genres, well-executed, well-recorded.

Now every sonic memory is grist for the adman's mill, even if it's something fairly new by Stereolab or Lenny Kravitz. Ads for "extreme" sports products have been doing the Newness Thing for years. The fact that the "countercultural" medium of rock can be so quickly assimilated into The Man's purposes is a bit off-putting. When some tune by The Jesus Lizard or Atari Teenage Riot gets the nod for some high-exposure ad campaign, that's when I reach for my revolver. "Lust for Life" was almost the last straw, but then I would think of that silly grin Iggy had on the album cover, and lose myself in giggles.

Don't forget all the classical music they've destroyed, too. My students can’t tell Bach from Beethoven, but they sure know what commercials have ripped off the pieces I play in class. The ones that really piss me off are the ones that use Vivaldi and Mozart to pimp that fucking South African diamond cartel. Moments like that make me question the concept of public domain.

And strangely enough, Michael Jackson’s pedophilia doesn’t piss me off (and believe me, I do hate goddamn pedophiles) nearly as much as his exploitation of the Beatles catalogue.

"You say you want a revolution…" Yeah, and you whores at Nike will be the first ones up against the wall, motherfuckers.
Oh for crying out loud. The fact that the song has been played in one medium or another has no bearing on the quality of the track. The notes haven't changed. The singer's words haven't changed. Does the fact that "Wait, Abstraction no. 3" by Tortoise was used to sell perfume change the fact that that song is absolutely brilliant? Not a bit. In fact, I like the fact that a) Thrill Jockey and Tortoise can make a little money and b) it's some decent music, not the shit that passes for music in most television.

Get over it.

  • Other people know about your "really obscure favorite band."
  • The people in those bands and the people who own the labels are real people, not ideal artists, and real people like money.

Whoah. Core dump. I'm not saying that all artists should aspire to be put on a Pepsi commercial. However, if a great song is put on a commercial, the song hasn't been changed in any real way.

Gamaliel is my new best friend. I was going to complain about classical music being used in ads but he beat me to it, so I think I'll complain about the glee with which ad execs exploit composers who can no longer defend themselves.

It's one thing if Delores from the Cranberries wants to sell her schwag to a car company. Whatever. Being an artist includes the need to make a living and she isn't going to hell for it.


The people responsible for the "Movies movies movies" jingle to the tune of Beethoven's ninth?

Or "the Diamond song?"

Or Microsoft and Bach and Mozart?


I have two words for them: Confutatis maledictus.

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