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Posts Tagged ‘music’

It’s been bugging me for a while, but every time I see this Nivea commercial I’m reminded of another song, but for the longest time I couldn’t quite place it:

The “they call her love, love, love, love, love,” bit, both in verse and in melody sounded very familiar indeed…

On Saturday I figured it out:

(listen in around 1:02)

Am I right?

What bothers me more than anything is that the song in the Nivea ad is just so damn lame aside from the part featured in the spot–I tracked it down on the band’s MySpace page and immediately I was unimpressed by the uber-emo-boy lyrics–and that’s coming from someone who loves a good, sappy emo song from time to time.

What do you think?  Is this too much a reach?

UPDATE: Jess sagely pointed out that the Parachute song also bears more than a passing resemblance to Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love”:

Happily, this gave me a great excuse to post a vintage video of Van Morrison and Bob Dylan playing this, which helps point how inferior the “modern” conflation of the DMB and Van Morrison songs really is compared to the originals.

Hacks.

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I caught the annual airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight, and something hit me anew as I was watching the famous interchange between Lucy and Schroeder as she tells him to play “Jingle Bells”; that is, the fact that his beloved piano’s keys were painted on and in theory did not produce music.  Was it the power of his imagination, combined with his love of Beethoven that made the music come through on his piano?

Ponder with me, if you will, the infamous “Jingle Bells” exchange: (more…)

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Have been listening to this quite a bit today.

Some days, it’s good to embrace la dolce vita italiana, and others–well damn, it’s good to be Irish.

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My pal Kallipher recently mused on her great love of the soundtrack to City of Angels, and how the breadth of emotion that the songs represent makes it a kind of musical spectrum.  It got me thinking about two of my favorite soundtracks and why the spoke so well to me that I had to run out and purchase them as soon as I finished watching the movie…

Living Out LoudThis is a little-known film from 1998, and it’s an absolute gem.  While Chicago a few years cemented Queen Latifah’s prowess as a singer, she’s extraordinary in this as a jazz singer named Liz, who befriends Holly Hunter’s character following the latter’s divorce.  The opening titles of the movie is the Queen singing “Lush Life,” a 1920’s stunner that some argue is the most difficult piece to sing ever written, and the camera slowly pans around her as she sings, and the background and singer slowly change from jazz club chanteuse to a thirty-something blonde lip-synching in her dark, empty apartment.  It’s haunting, and sets the tone for the rest of the film, which is a story about loneliness, pleasure, and loving oneself.

The Talented Mr. Ripley:  Anyone who’s read this blog in the last few months knows of my obsession with this film when it comes to the visual appeals–the location, the costumes, the props–and the soundtrack is no different.  I was seventeen and just starting to educate myself on jazz, and the presence of Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis meant that this disc was constantly in my CD player.  The score, a mix of classical and jazz with a very heavy reliance on vibraphone, perfectly captured the halcyon hubris of the first part of the film and the uneasiness of the second half.  I’m convinced that it played a role in me successfully persuading my alma mater in purchasing a vibraphone that I could play all four years in jazz band.  The key role jazz played in the plot, moreover, gives the term “poseur” a whole new meaning–and I have to admit that I really, really wanted to be in that listening booth with Jude Law and Phillip Seymour Hoffman more than Tom Ripley did.

In fact, not going to any jazz clubs while we were in Italy was a bit of a bummer, but clearly is just one more reason why I have to go back.

To give you an idea of what I mean, here’s a favorite scene frim Living Out Loud where Holly Hunter takes a hit of X and has a blast at a decidedly Sapphic after-hours club:

And the adorable Matt Damon singing “My Funny Valentine” in the film’s offical music video:

 

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Just a little classic Sesame Street animation and Phillip Glass to start your day:

 

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(Note:  normally I don’t like posting the sources of lyrics, but because the above are in Icelandic, I will–this is from “Hoppípolla” by Sigur Rós’s album Takk… and if you haven’t heard this record, download it immediately.  It’s one of my favorite albums to listen while commuting because you can just leave it on and it sounds so good. )

I’m one of the very few people in my group of friends who has a commute that lasts more than ten or fifteen minutes one-way, and I easily take the cake for longest commute at three hours round-trip.  The bulk of this takes place on the Metro North which makes it more palatable–I can sit, zone out to music, work, or read Jezebel if I want to and completely avoid the clusterfuck that is driving I-95 anytime during rush hour.

In short, it’s pretty great.  There’s only one downside, really–I can’t park at the train station in New Haven because the waiting list for a parking space at Union Station is five years.  So I have to park at nearby Temple Street and trust in CT Transit’s free shuttle to get me to the station and back safely.

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Or:  In Defense of Music in Commercials

            Commercialism and art have always had a symbiotic relationship mostly due to two facts:  people (in this case, artists) need food, water and shelter in order to live, and there’s always someone willing to pay for that (at least in part) if it will elevate their position in society (in this case, make them seem intelligent, or cultured).  It’s evident in the frescoes in churches and houses during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, the massive collections of art by titans of industry such as Frick, Barnes or even Annenberg, and in the outdoor statuary on PepsiCo’s main campus (just to name a few)—patrons made that art become part of the public consciousness that has endured for centuries.  Truth be told, for all you can say about art for art’s sake, the truth of the matter is commerce will always play some role in the life of an artist, whether it’s a job that pays the bills, a trust fund that allows artistic freedom, or people interested in buying the artist’s work.  Isn’t the latter considered the most desirable?

            It’s that point that forces me to question statements like Thom Yorke’s, captured from a YouTube interview:

“If you sell your music for a car ad, then you’re selling everybody’s memory of that music and robbing them of it.  Music is about triggering memories for a person; that’s what it does, that’s what it does for me every night.  If you rob people of that-if they associate it with Lexus-then what’s the point in being a musician?”

On the surface, Yorke has an excellent point—music lovers do associate memories to songs that can feel violated when they are inappropriately used in some creative director’s desperate attempt to feel hip:  see Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” (a song about suicide) in the VW Cabrio commercial, or the endless iterations of Modern English’s “Melt With You” promoting everything from Burger King cinnamon sticks to Ritz crackers, or the beauty shots of Sting sitting in the backseat of a Jaguar as “Desert Rose” wails in the background.

            But for every example one can pinpoint in some commercial, can’t the same be said for selling song rights to a television show or movie that will then be used in some overwrought, melodramatic scene?  I won’t judge the Garden State soundtrack here because I haven’t seen the movie (but the fanboy/girl squeeing over it is enough to make me flinch a little), but a particular ABC drama is a repeat offender in this practice—the histrionic Grey’s Anatomy.  I’ll admit that I watch it—the first season used songs really well to help narrate each episode, and this stayed true through the first half of the second season.  But the second that the powers that be moved to Most!Dramatic!Episode!Yet! tactics usually found on shows like The Bachelor, the songs that have accompanied these heart-wrenching scenes are tainted with those less-than-pleasant associations.  Though I’m generally not a fan of the estrogen-fueled songs about respiration that the music supervisors usually gravitate to, I do like Damien Rice, and the inclusion of “9 Crimes” felt a little out of place when they used it last Thanksgiving as Sandra Oh gets covered in blood and rats out her boyfriend.  To quote my future brother-in-law, it kinda tainted it.

            Furthermore, just as there are plenty of directors and showrunners that get how music can amplify a plotline (see:  Scorsese, Martin; Coppola, Francis Ford and Sofia; Chase, David (of The Sopranos), King, Michael Patrick (Sex and the City), and Anderson, Wes) there are commercials that transcend their purpose of selling and are small masterworks in themselves:

Gerber commercial using DeVotchka’s “The Winner Is” from Little Miss Sunshine:  a sweet commercial where the music choice perfectly matches the depiction of the emotional bond between mother and child without being cloying or, God forbid, cutesy.

Wes Anderson’s AmEx commercial featuring George DeLerue’s Day For Night chorale:  Anderson wrote the commercial to be a tribute to Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night, and captures the spirit elegantly by using the bright score

M&M’s spot featuring Iron & Wine’s cover of “Such Great Heights”:  I know some people hate this ad and hate that this song was in the ad, but everything about it screams “AESTHETICALLY PLEASING” that it’s hard to hate for long.

So how can critics so summarily dismiss song usage in commercials when all too often uninspired pairings occur in film and in television?  Sure, the musician is contributing to an artistic piece, but that artistic piece is there to generate money for someone (namely the studio/network and its advertisers, which in turn keeps the show on the air/generates revenue for more movies, which then allows for more music promotion, etc. etc.) but a poor artistic association is just as much an act of selling out as a poor commercial association.  Both are just as capable of ruining a personal memory or connection to a song.  As for Thom Yorke and Radiohead, while they have chosen wisely when picking what projects to be associated with (an acoustic “Fake Plastic Trees” appears on the Clueless commercial soundtrack—as well as “My Iron Lung” in the movie—and of course “Radio Talk Show Host” appears early in 1995’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet), their hands are hardly clean from the stain of greenbacks.  Glass houses, stones, throwing, etc.

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