• It has come to my attention that you can now buy Music Trivia Pringles. What, you ask, are Music Trivia Pringles? Well, they’re pretty much what the name suggests: Pringles potato chips with music trivia questions printed on them in some kind of edible ink. The answer is printed on the same side of the chip, upside down. Verily, this is an idea whose time has come. And, yes, they are just as crispety-crunchety as normal Pringles. Maybe more so. (All I know is that when I got my first can of Music Trivia Pringles, fully intending to write about them, I ended up eating the entire tube before typing a word.)
The musical artists these chips ask about are mostly people you’ve never heard of; yet the chips name-drop them with such a casually knowing air, you feel as if you should know them. These are some demanding chips. For example, the chips act like everyone’s heard of Hot Apple Pie — and, more than that, everyone might be able to guess the name of their debut album. (Hot Apple Pie, it turns out.) You can ask the chip, “Who the fuck is Hot Apple Pie?” but it will silently mock you.
I am sure this is all some corporate tie-in deal, but the basic concept is rock solid. My suggestion is that classic reissue labels like Rhino and Collectors’ Choice sign a cross-promotion deal with Pringles — and, while we’re at it, Bazooka bubblegum and Oscar Mayer bologna — and get their music experts to write trivia questions a girl can really sink her teeth into. At the very least, it could be the birth of a new drinking game.
• I know you know this, but Breakfast With the Beatles, America’s greatest and longest-running Beatles radio show, is still slated to go off the air September 3. (See www.savebreakfastwiththebeatles.com.) The talk station that airs it — so-called “97.1 Free FM” (my ass) — is going to sell its spot, apparently, to some kind of infomercial. This would be tragic for a number of reasons, including the fact that this show is currently the best place to hear wonderfully naughty shit-talking about Heather Mills, Paul McCartney’s ex. The latest is that — besides stealing household cleaning supplies from his home — Mills recently had one of her henchmen scale the wall after she was refused entrance by the staff. That lady is so out to lunch, I think she may actually be having an early dinner.
Paul has always been the most mercenary Beatle, so I shouldn’t paint him as any kind of innocent. Nevertheless, he’s also my favorite Beatle, and so I will take this opportunity to officially blame Heather Mills for every lame thing that Paul has done over the past year or two — most especially, those awful TV ads for insurance or whatever the fuck it was.
I will also officially blame her for the e-mail press release I received in February 2005 excitedly announcing that Paul’s music would be available to the highest bidder for use in commercials. There was something fishy about that e-mail. Really fishy. Dig it:
For Immediate ReleaseMPL COMMUNICATIONS SET TO LAUNCH MUSIC MARKETING & LICENSING INITIATIVE FEATURING THE MUSIC OF PAUL McCARTNEYNew York, NY — February 22, 2005 — MPL Communications, Inc., one of the largest independent publishing companies in the world, announced today that it will launch a new marketing and licensing initiative that spotlights the solo career of Paul McCartney.“This campaign is a landmark offering for audiences both emerging and established to experience McCartney’s music in unique and inventive ways. MPL is thrilled to make McCartney’s extraordinary body of work available for commercial opportunities,” said Bill Porricelli, MPL’s Sr. VP Promotion & New Product Development .?.?.”It reminded me of the semirecent announcement that Courtney Love had struck a deal to use Nirvana’s music in advertising — as if their music hadn’t already been demeaned enough by corporate radio overkill. (For more on this, see interview with former Nirvana obsessives OutKast in these pages. It’s time to let the Nirvana catalog take a well-deserved rest, methinks.) In her announcement, Love used the same kind of unctuous PR language to try and doll up the ugly face of pure greed.
In McCartney’s case, though, it seemed that something more than greed alone was at work. It felt like someone who doesn’t love music had convinced Paul that his work wouldn’t find young ears and survive the 21st century if he didn’t put it into commercials. That’s the big lie that they’re force-feeding us right now — that music achieves cultural relevance through advertising. This is corporate doublethink; in truth, it’s advertising that achieves relevance through music. Everything achieves relevance through music.
I think someone tried to sell Paul McCartney that lie by making him feel older and less important than he really is. And now, I think that person was Heather Mills. You know why? On a recent airing of Breakfast With the Beatles, I found out that Paul just fired much of the New York staff of MPL Communications — something like seven or eight people — because they were all Heather’s buddies.
For the first time in a while, Paul’s made the right decision. Well fucking done, lad. And don’t you dare sell any more of your shit to ads. Yes, I have written recently about the charm of music-in-advertising, but the truth is, it’s still something for rich artists to avoid. (Michael Jackson deserves props for protecting the Beatles’ catalog better than most people would have.) And even if Heather does get the 330 million pounds she’s seeking — or whatever it is now! — Sir Paul ain’t going broke anytime soon.