I’ve always disliked it. I can understand why they do it but nonetheless it makes me uneasy to think that the work of genius can be reduced to a technique to shill a product. In general anytime art meets advertising I think it’s a bad idea but especially when its music. Lucky for Picasso and Monet or god forbid Dali their work doesn’t readily lend itself to selling deodorant or feminine hygiene products.
The works of the immortal Bard and even Edgar Allen Poe have upon occasion been used to make products more attractive. But music and Madison Avenue have always seemed to go hand in hand. Up until now I have just sort of gritted my teeth and put up with it. Even the Beatles songs haven’t been spared from this aural assault. As long ago as 1985 the first Beatles song was used in a commercial, “Help” (sung by the Beatles themselves) was used in a commercial for Ford.
But last night hearing John’s “Come Together” as the background music for a department store featuring ninnies cavorting around like they were inflicted by St. Vitus dance syndrome was just too much for me. Now I am sure this is a fine department store. The models dancing looked very stylish. But they should all rot in hell for taking money for prostitution of a song. Is that a law? Could it be? It should be.
I know, Beatles songs have been used to pitch everything from diapers to sneakers. But it still bothers me. It bothered the Beatles too.
“If it’s allowed to happen, every Beatles song ever recorded is going to be advertising women’s underwear and sausages. We’ve got to put a stop to it in order to set a precedent. Otherwise it’s going to be a free-for-all. It’s one thing when you’re dead, but we’re still around! They don’t have any respect for the fact that we wrote and recorded those songs, and it was our lives.”
-George Harrison November 1987.
Other than decomposing George must be spinning in his grave like a lathe. I am sure there are moments when Paul McCartney must wonder what circle of hell he stumbled into that let Michael Jackson control his songs.
I’ve always admired what Jim Morrison did when the Doors were asked to lend “Light My Fire” to a car commercial. Buick proffered $75,000 to hawk a car. As the story goes the other band members agreed while Jim was out of town. He came back and went nuts. He called up Buick and said that if they aired the ad, he’d smash a Buick on television with a sledgehammer.
I would have paid to see that.