Selling Out: The Future Is Advertising. And Publishing.

30 Jun 2005

cool bands like clinic and caesars found fame through the soundtracking of their music on television-adverts. but what about when the advert becomes the gimmick, and ringtones are the name of the game...?

Crazy FrogSo, the crazy frog is still clinging to the upper reaches of the hit parade again.

And he's already sabotaged a mooted art-rock cover of 'Popcorn', by beating the real band into the studio and knocking out a second 'sure-fire hit' faster than you can say Brrr Brr Brr Brrr... Or whatever that little c**t mumbles.

Still, you know what makes that track even more evil? The fact that it is nothing more than an advert.

Let's break it down. The future of the music-industry lies in publishing. Ringtones sell more than singles (and are cheaper to produce). If you create an annoying tone, (say for example; the crazy frog), then copyright that, and match up that with an old song that you already own in your evil empire's portfolio (say 'The Beverly Hills Cop' theme-tune). Then stick it on the TV in between every piece of brain-rotting sop for the shellsuit-wearing masses that you can find. The money that you collect from the performance of your copyrighted piece will offset the outlay for advertising time, then the office idiot will buy the ringtone for 'ironic' reasons, and school kids will shell out their pocket money for a character that makes the 'Tweenies' seem like a very good idea. Then release the single, and voila, a cultural icon and a f**k of a lot of cash. Child's play.

But this is where it gets really interesting. The frog is the latest in the line of the evolution of the pop song. From extolling the woes of slaves in the fields of cotton, to advertising a sickly pink yoghurt drink in a little over one hundred years, the pop song, or jingle as you may like to call it, has certainly come on.

Let's assess some classics.

Left wing queer theorists may try to tell you that the Village People's disco classic 'YMCA' is in fact a plea for a multi-racial acceptance of queer identity, offering the listener, through the anonymity of costume and performance, a chance to free themselves from the shackles of a constrictive sexuality. Bollocks. It's an advert. For a youth hostel.

Jingles have long been the staple of the down and out musician, selling out without putting your professional integrity on the line. For example, Justin Hawkins from The Darkness was in this very situation. What the f**k did he come up with? The jingle for Calgon Washing Tablets; WASHING MACHINES LIVE LONGER WITH CALGON!

This incessant twitch in the mind of a sadistic sales team will thrive longer than the sodding machines, and certainly longer than Justin's current career. But he learnt his lesson, exemplified by his highest ever chart placing consisting of an extended (at least three minutes) advert for a church holiday. Thankfully, though 'Xmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)' was beaten to number one by a cover of a Tears for Fears song, which was, for those of you who haven't guessed where we're heading yet, essentially an advert for a film.

But, for those who don't want to piss over their own music in search of a quick buck, there's always the option of adapting a cover version to sell some cheap tat. Or a soft drink. When Michael 'Completely Innocent' Jackson covered the Beatles' 'Come Together' (a song which he owned the copyright to), for a promotional advert for his Pepsi©ola world tour, the song was introduced to a whole new generation, a generation that would forever equate 'toe jam football' with a particularly refreshing soft drink flavoured with vegetable extracts.

But me, I sit aloof from it all. Why should I give a shit considering that for pleasure I largely listen to grind core cassette-tape releases from Eastern Europe, released in editions of no more than twenty-five copies? Because, the worth of rock and roll, the inherent essence of rebellion that is innate in this musical form, has become little more than short hand for a sugar rush advert. It's been corrupted in a similar way to language when advertising slogans such as 'lucky Jim' were subsumed into ordinary life, preferencing a brand over any real chance of human communication. But like the Murphy's, I'm not bitter. You can't be. You'd give up the fight.

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