Thursday, March 15, 2007

When Good Bands Let Bad Things Happen

I've come a long way in my life where my opinion on artists allowing their songs to be used for advertising is concerned. Certainly it is a choice, and a matter of principle. Tom Waits has vehemently fought to keep his music from being used to sell everything from automobiles to corn chips, and he has consistently won. That's very admirable. I respect his stance very much.

Other bands whose music I love have allowed their music to be used in commercials. Recently, Of Montreal allowed their song "Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and Other Games)" to be used in an Outback Steakhouse commercial. Kevin Barnes, the bands creative force and songwriter took a flippant attitude about the whole ordeal: "We were approached by Outback Steakhouse's ad agency asking about making their own cover version of 'Wraith Pinned to the Mist (And Other Games)' for one of their commercials. We thought it would be totally amusing to hear their take on one of our songs as a jingle."

This is a band which has had great success as an indie rock act. While they are among the most popular groups in the indie scene, that doesn't necessarily add up to much money in the end. These guys are working for a living just like we all are, and they have mortgages to pay and children to feed. While I'd rather not hear one of my favorite songs turned into a jingle, I completely understand, and it doesn't really bother me too much. Ten years ago I would have felt very differently about it. Now that I have a mortgage of my own, I can identify. If you haven't seen the original video for the song I recommend you check it out.

Modest Mouse is a band I like even more than Of Montreal however, and for some reason this commercial irks me a little more.

I guess it's beacuse I detest American Idol as a show and a national obsession. I think it's terrible in every way something has the propensity to be terrible. There are no redeeming qualities to be found in American Idol in the world I inhabit. I'm not saying anyone who watches and enjoys it is wrong for doing so, but it is not for me, personally.

So beyond being a Ford commercial, this spot is also associated with American Idol which makes me like it less. However, there are a few redeeming qualities in the commercial. The three Ford Mustangs are totally sweet, so I'm a little conflicted there. Also, for some reason as they sing the song, the American Idol contestants are walking like zombies, which admittedly is weird, but zombies are awesome, so I don't know how to feel.

Thanks to Stereogum (via Best Week Ever) for the heads up on the commercial. Best reader comment at Stereogum:

My soul hurts after watching that.
Posted by: Kim at March 15, 2007 2:27 PM

Brilliant quip from Best Week Ever:
...this was like the modern musical equivalent of the Kennedy Assassination, Watergate and and Jack Nicholson getting killed at the end of Easy Rider, all happening in front of us, at the same time...