Classic Songs + TV Ads = Shite

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 2nd November 2010.

There’s nothing quite as crushing for a music fan than finding out that one of your favourite songs has been crudely converted into a jingle, hawking the latest triple double heart stopper burger or the like. What’s even more terrible is that a whole generation of children will only recognise the classics as “that song from the toilet paper ad.”

When I was growing up, I discovered and came to love the music of my parents’ generation by scouring through their record collection. When they were out I’d examine every detail on the gatefold sleeves before very carefully placing the needle on the vinyl, being especially careful not to scratch the record. This is how I discovered artists like Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, sitting beside a tinny record player, following along with the lyrics over and over until I knew them by heart.

Dad also had two cassettes that he had on constant rotation in his green Carolla, Abba’s Arrival and a random Beatles compilation tape that I’ve never found in any official discography. I don’t care how much you remaster and clean up these albums, Dancing Queen and Hey Jude sound best to me through two mono car door speakers.

 That’s how great music should be discovered, not through a television ad.

One of the worst offenders this year certainly has to be the insurance ad that mutilates Moving Pictures’ What About Me. Prior to it being slightly tarnished by a Mr Noll, this was a timeless Aussie ballad with great lyrics and melody. How could one improve on this? Why not add horrible whiney lyrics sung in embarrassing ocker accents? I’d like to file a claim. Your ad sucks.

Brian Wilson is a musical genius who composed “teenage symphonies to God”. Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys is and will be my favourite album for all time. I’m sure Brian will be spinning in his grave or at least his sandpit if he heard the ad which features a bunch of overly excited salespeople prancing around to Good Vibrations. OK, so he’s not dead but you get my point. You know how the ads feature some customers who watch on with unimpressed looks on their faces. I’m pretty sure they aren’t actors. I’ll pay cash if you just stop.

 English ska band Madness produced some timeless pop classics in the eighties including Baggy Trousers and Our House. How pleased they must be to know that their perennial single It Must Be Love now features in an ad for nappies. A wonderfully romantic song that captures a beautiful moment in the human experience is now reduced to babies and bottoms. I’m sorry, but the nappies aren’t the only things being pooped on right now.

Writing of nappies, I’ve also noticed that MC Hammer’s You Can’t Stop This, which itself sampled Rick James’ Superfreak has now been converted to a jingle that features the line, “Stop, potty time.” OK, it’s far from a classic but even the man who composed the Addams Family rap deserves better treatment than this.

 Of course, I understand that there is big money in licensing these songs and songwriters and artists need to make a living. I just hate to see wonderful aural creations of art be trashed just to sell me some funeral plan insurance.

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