Everyone out there groovin’ on those AT&T ads with the Oasis song? You know, the one where Liam turns “word” into a three-syllable commitment? All around the world, gotta spread the wor-uh-herd, AT&T is bloomin’ gear . . .
As sellouts go, this one’s a failure, mostly because these ads flaunt a total lack of charm or whimsy. A rock superstar who sells out his music is much like a movie star who gets busted for hookers: In order to pull it off, the offender is required, by law, to handle the whole affair with charm and whimsy. In this way, he may turn a moment of vulnerability into a satisfying pop-cultural event for everyone, especially fans.
But charm and whimsy must also include the particular product a particular artist chooses to endorse: The Donnas doing Budweiser? Perfect. Jane’s Addiction doing Coors? Eeeerk. Bob Dylan hawking Victoria’s Secret? Possibly. Bob Dylan promoting Kaiser Permanente? Vomitland of the Americas.
Now, if you’re thinking to yourself, “I really don’t care about Oasis selling out,” that’s okay, too. When it comes to anything Oasis-related these days, apathy is a swell option. In fact, I’m more disappointed by my own lack of outrage over these ads than by the ads themselves. This shruggery spells an ominous climate change: More and more, I expect rock stars to disappoint. To make the uninspired choice. To stand for nothing, and not even have fun with that. (I point to the Monkees as role models for how to stand for nothing with a real sense of meaning.)
But check it out: Oasis are doubly, double-dumb because, according to the British paper The Sun, Noel Gallagher previously called Jack White a sellout for writing a Coke jingle. Apparently, Noel said, “I don’t believe in adverts. Jack White ceases to be in the club.”
(By the way, whatever happened to that Jack White Coke jingle? I never heard it. Wonder if it went the way of Jack White’s Beck collaboration and Britney’s twins.)
It’s a funny thing, since Oasis was sued for plagiarizing a Coke jingle in the ’90s. (“Shakermaker” ripped off “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”) How’s that for sour grapes?
Anyway, I have read recent reports that the Sex Pistols are preparing to sell out their catalog to the highest corporate bidders. (Is that what’s called being “outside the shit-stem”? http://www.thefilthandthefury.co.uk/) I opt not to address this topic today, because I am not sure these reports are true. Furthermore, the very idea is so crashingly boring, I would have to go to bed for the rest of the day if it were confirmed.
As I said, though, if done right, selling out can be a good time for all — especially when a commercial features absurdly altered lyrics. This is a now classic tradition of American music-in-advertising, and in a way, feels the most innocent. A few of the ads that have hit the right note:
1. The triumphant Wickes Furniture ads featuring the Commodores’ “Brick House.”
2. Those “Crumbelievable!” ads (to EMF’s “Unbelievable”). I have no memory of what they’re selling, but they are, truly, crumbelievable.
3. The Reese’s ads featuring the catchy ditty “I Want Cookies!” (to Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy”), selling some candy-cookie hybrid thing.
4. “We Got the Meat” (the Go-Go’s “We Got the Beat”), used in a pizza commercial.
5. The Swiffer ads with a Devo-like jingle called “Swiff It.”
6. If Jessica Simpson weren’t involved, I’d go for the Pizza Hut ads with Miss Piggy and Kermit, Queen Latifah and the jingle “These Bites Were Made For Poppin’.” Surely, this commercial features the highest number of disparate pop-cultural elements ever contained in one ad.
7. My favorite ever, though, would have to be the Kragen Auto Parts ads, popular during Dodger games on the radio a few years back. Set to the tune of “Venus” by the Shocking Blue, the jingle combines a macho truck-driver-man singing the praises of Kragen. Imagine this broadcast over the AM airwaves — between calls by Vin Scully, on a lazy Saturday evening, still light out, with jasmine in the air — and you begin to understand my affection:
We’ve got it!
At Kragen we’ve got it!
Lower prices, parts and more!
At your Kragen store!
God bless America.
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