The Savage Animal 09.04.13 CALL NOW! ‘A Look at Music’s Commercial Past’
Posted by Mikey MiGo on 09.04.2013
Jock Jams, Time Life collections, and Kid Bopz have embedded ten second song clips into the brains of insomniac music fans for years. In the 360th edition of The Savage Animal, Mike takes a look at some of the commercials and infomercials from music’s past. All of this, a look at Labor Day, a better late than never review of Blue Velvet, a look at the Carrie remake, and more! The smoothest operators are standing by! Call now!
"Labor Day": So we all like three day weekends, right? We impatiently wait for them to come so we can have one extra day of leisure. It's an excuse to travel, to have a family gathering, sleep in, or get some extra housework done. It's pretty much just some extra free time, right?
I'm not trying to play ignorant or spark controversy, but does ANYONE care about Labor Day? I'm going to go one step farther, but sadly a lot of people don't even know the difference between Labor Day and Memorial Day. I'm not singling anyone out. I'm the same boat. Ask me in March on a random day when Labor Day is and when Memorial Day is and there is a fair chance I'd mix up the dates.
I'm not a jerk. I want people to be happy, fulfilled, enlightened, and celebrated. It's just these holidays are not the "big ones". If these "excuse for an three day weekends" were states, douchey industry people would call them "fly over holidays".
I appreciate the day off. I do, but I just think the reasons for these days aren't being observed in the proper respect. Shit, these holidays aren't even as explained as much as they should be.
Of course when you take a step back, the idea of "Labor Day" is about celebrating the working man. The hard work that goes into making this country function SHOULD be acknowledged, appreciated, and celebrated. But instead, it's just another three day weekend. Maybe we need to organize this more. We need to give the holiday more an identity, some kind of gratitude exchange, some kind of specific symbolism, or even some sort of entertainment tradition.
That's just it… the word "Tradition". That's what the day lacks. I'm sure people have their own celebrations, but in mass we don't go all out like we do for the Fourth, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, or the other late-year cultural holidays.
The problem is no one seems to want to put the work in to properly celebrate Labor Day.
The Album Covers Of Michael Jackson
King of Pop… Art? With the advancement of technology we can pretty much watch whatever we want and listen to whatever want at our own complete leisure. More and more people are abandoning typical cable and satellite providers in favor of Hulu, Netflix, and another half dozen outlets that'll be outdated before we all know it. Things just keep progressing forward in this area that it's hard to keep up, but fun as hell to try.
With this technological evolution, things are going to have to adapt or be left behind. One of those things is commercials. On some platforms the commercials are still there. You'll have to wait for little 30 second spots to get done before you can continue to watch what you want. It's a minor inconvenience that I'm sure will somehow be "remedied" before too long. This is a form of adaptation. The commercials that are going to get left behind are the infomercials and the music compilation set offers.
They were pretty much "professional mix CDs" where they'd get the rights to a whole bunch of similar sounding or similar themed music, throw them on a nine CD set, and then sell to drunks and insomniacs at four payments of an arm and a leg. The thing that killed this type of products strong run was the evolution of the mp3, the mp3 player, and having access to make our own playlists. So in reality, it's a double-sided sword except one side cuts and the other side slices.
So before they're completely forgotten and something only old senile people talk about, let's take a look at some of the different types of infomercials and commercials from music's past…
Product: NEW ALBUM/"GREATEST HITS"
This one is pretty obvious. When a company has a new product to sell they have to promote it. When a band has a new album they have to promote it. Why not in the form of a television commercial? For the longest time that was the biggest way to reach people. So we saw TONS of commercials promoting a musician's new album. Some were good and some were bad. Often times, we'd see "Greatest Hits" collections hit the airwaves. The commercials would be a "Call Now!" situation, but also promote that it's "In Stores Now!" Sometimes it would be an actual release by the band but a lot of the time it just seemed like someone is trying to make some money of a music catalog somewhere. The commercials were a plenty though.
Product: TIME LIFE MUSIC COLLECTIONS
I don't know what Time Life was up to, but they couldn't have been up to any good. They seemed to be a HUGE part of the whole "compilation collection" commercial game back in the day. They didn't just put out the same stuff though. I think that's my problem. You'd see the logo flash and you didn't know if a greatest hits of the Bee Gees, the greatest hits of disco, or some kind of weird sultry "Body and Soul" CD collection that's obviously made for adults to have sex to. So basically, there's a good chance that if your parents are REALLY lame you were conceived to "Shining Star" by The Manhattans. Damn you Time Life, damn you!
Product: "BUZZ WORTHY"/ALTERNATIVE SETS
When the first thing you hear is "Higher" by Creed you KNOW you're in for a GREAT album, right? Right? Yeah. Probably not. These things were around for a while. When the newer bands broke out it'd crowd the scene up so you'd occasionally see a CD full of bands that are just starting to get stale. This would open them up a whole new demographic of people. I'm talking about the people who actually paid for "as seen on TV" music mixes. Who are you people? Please speak up! The excited voice over man tells us that these are the BEST alternative hits of ALL TIME. I heard Papa Roach and Hoobastank in there for fucks sake! ALL TIME?!
Product: KID COVERS
There is the big one called "Kid Bopz" or "Kidz Bop" or something with a "Bop" and a "Z". Most people know about that one. Its little kids singing in a chorus and covering "today's biggest hits". Basically, it's a whole bunch of little kids singing to Green Day or Kelly Clarkson. But even before the "Bop" and a "Z" collections started blowing up the "pro mix CD" game, there were other weird kid sing along albums. It's perfectly harmless in most cases, but some songs do have some heavy innuendo. There is no reason a group of small children should be harmonizing to ANY Maroon 5 song. It's just unsettling.
Product: JOCK JAMS
Everyone loved Jock Jams, right? It was a whole bunch of up-tempo techno-rap or really stupid and danceable pop songs. They'd sprinkle in a little arena rock for sure, but the main focus always seemed to be on the stuff cheer leaders would listen to on their way to church. I don't mean, "Whoop! There It Is!" though. That song is a classic. It's hard to believe they cranked out 295 volumes of this set and only 270 of them had "Everybody Dance Now!" remixes on it. I imagine these CDs would be a coke head's worst nightmare.
Product: GOSPEL/RELIGIOUS /SPIRITUAL SETS
These always irked me. I'd be watching a random WCW show on TBS and some Anne Murray commercial would come up promoting a gospel album. I have no problem with people believing whatever they want, but as a kid watching wrestling it was always a buzz kill. I wanted to see Harlem Heat beat someone up, not hear an extended clip of "Go Tell It On The Mountain" sung by Jim Nabors. I can now appreciate the vocal talents for sure, but it was just out of place and over played. It wasn't all just Christianity either. I remember one very specific "spiritual" or "relaxation/meditation" CD set that had the X-Files song in the commercial. There I learned it was called "Tubular Bells". Yeah, I knew that shit without looking it up. *high five!*
Product: HOLIDAY COLLECTIONS
There's nothing too much to say about this one. Holiday collections were always a big deal with "mix CD" commercials. There'd be tons of Christmas ones. A lot of old singers, country stars, and even a few R&B talents would put out Christmas albums at this point. Every one of them would a commercial that airs from Halloween to St. Patrick's Day. While Christmas was the big one, Halloween had some too. I recall collections of eerie music, horror music themes, and scary sound effects being around a lot. On the holiday front, that's about it. I don't think they ever sold Presidents Day mix CDs, did they?
Product: GUITAR LESSONS
To be fair, I don't remember any of these commercials except for the one Esteban. The man who wore the black Zorro hat who taught people who to play the guitar through a series of videos, books, and I think maybe even CDs. It always seemed like a big deal as a kid. The problem was that I couldn't take it seriously. When you're a kid you want your music to come from rock stars, not guys who look like they can swing a sword better than play a cover of "Blue Monday".
Product: MONSTER BALLADS
This is one of those commercials that played so much during my youth and my teens that I almost know the cues and the next song before I ever hear it. That's even after not seeing or even thinking about this commercial in a very long time. This album is full of 1980's hair metal ballads sung by the likes of Warrant, Poison, Damn Yankees, Motely Crue, Winger, Scorpions, Cinderella, and of course Extreme. This video also features a married couple holding hands and jumping out of an airplane. We hear someone shout "this is awesome" and we're supposed to assume it's the guy that's jumping in the air. I don't know WHY that's in there, but it is. Just accept it. We've come this far. But remember ladies, "Every bad boy has his soft side!"
Product: NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL MUSIC!
If you want to say that you "listen to music", but really have no personality, taste, or genuine preference then THIS crap is for you. It's basically a mix CD of random "Top 40" hits. It's the same crap that you can hear on the radio played on a loop. It's the same stuff that MTV actually shows. It's just about always a big collection of crap. I could imagine kids liking these in a way, but if you're older than 13 and can't handle the responsibility of listening to a FULL ALBUM then you don't deserve music. Who the hell is buying these?
Blue Velvet is one of those movies that slipped through the cracks for me. As big of a film fan as I am, it's crazy that I haven't seen this David Lynch movie yet. I've seen his more recent movies and even "Eraserhead", but just never caught this one. This was a HUGE mistake. So many random pop culture lines are from this movie that it kind of blows my mind that I didn't know it firsthand. For those who have missed the boat like I did, you want to go out of your way to see this movie. It stars Kyle MacLachlan, a normal college kid home from school after his father goes ill. Once he gets back to his nice small town he discovers that shit is CRAZY. It's a David Lynch film so it's as surreal and creepy as you'd expect. MacLachlan is great in this, but he's not alone. Isabella Rossellini is crazy as hell in this movie. I instantly recognized her from 30 Rock of all places. She was outstanding in this. She was unnervingly alluring in this. Laura Dern is stunning in this. She's so delicate and innocent that when she breaks you want to turn your head from the screen. It's intensely sad. Then there's Dennis Hopper. Hopper eats up every scene he's in and made me uncomfortable despite the nearly thirty year time difference. He is a lunatic as "Frank". He is one of the best psychotic character's I've seen that's NOT in a horror movie. All of his lines are one-liners that I've heard for years. I understand why people enjoy blurting out "I'll fuck anything that moves!" or "Pabst Blue Ribbon!". The direction was great and ahead of its time. The acting is great. There isn't too much to complain about or nit-pick. At first I felt lost when the movie started. It sorta just jumped in and I had to pick up on things to make sense of what was going on. I think that's part of the experience of this movie. It's not supposed to make a whole lot of sense. It's a story that feels like it moves purely on the craziest of instincts. I'm going to have to watch it a few more times to fully take it in, but that's a task I'm definitely up for. David Lynch is the man. See this movie! See it now! A
"Worst Case Scenario" is a new take on the concept of "fantasy booking". For years professional wrestling fans would spend endless hours of thinking up the coolest things that could happen. Why waste the energy? This only leads to high expectations. "Worst Case Scenario" flips that. Instead of looking through rose colored glasses, let's take a bi-weekly look at the worst possible scenarios in professional wrestling. I'm not going to be malicious or anything too mean, but I will not refrain from letting my brain come up with the worst possible shit I can. Sadly, it seems the writers and producers of mainstream TV wrestling and the mainstream iPPV level indies are doing the same thing but charging us for it. And now…
"The WWE Network Arrives!"
The dream of many wrestling fans for years has been the mumbles of "what if there was a channel that showed NOTHING BUT WRESTLING!" Every wrestling fan that's been a wrestling fan long enough to dream that dream stopped breathing for a few seconds when the WWE announced they were going to be starting their own network.
This was a few years ago. Since making the announcement the WWE has really slowed their promo for it. At first it was coming soon and had some cool dub step promo advertising it. They even shot some promos, shows, and content for the channel. The Surreal Life rip off with old wrestlers was apparently shot and we've never seen it. In the mean time of the WWE announcing this new network they've added shows to the internet, to ION, and now to Bravo. They're spreading themselves out across different networks which makes me think they're slowing down their progress for the network.
If it does happen, great. It'll have tons of awesome content and I'm sure a lot of people will get lost in their programming and will never be seen again. If the WWF had it's own network when I was a child I'm fairly certain I'd have given up on speech and social contact all together. A lot of diehard fans will watch TNA or whatever else they can for the sole reason of "I'm watching it because it's wrestling". If there is a network, where do we "watch just to watch" fans go for help? There is going to have to be a rehab specifically for the WWE addicts.
But what if it sucks? The WWE doesn't ALWAYS deliver the good. Sometimes shit just doesn't work out. What's the worst the WWE could do?
How about a John Cena show? Who wouldn't want to watch a reality show of John Cena going around signing autographs, kissing babies, and taking meetings? If the Divas show on Bravo is any indication, their "worked shoot" idea is going to go reaaaaaally far.
There is also a content issue. It's true that the WWE had a billion hours of wrestling in their archive, but that doesn't mean they're just going to start playing random matches for no reason. They'll have to produce everything into neat programming that they can fully control the content of. If they don't want us to see John Cena lose to Umaga they're not going to show it. It'll be heavily edited and censored. Smaller channels on Direct TV seem to cycle their programming. They'll show a few hours of content a day and just repeat it a few times to fill up space. I'm sure the WWE would do better than that, but why should we get our hopes up?
Remember how people used to bitch about MTV never showing music videos anymore. Let's fast forward a decade for wrestling fans. How unsettling is it that it's REALLY easy to imagine snarky wrestling fans bitching with stuff like "Remember when the WWE Network actually showed wrestling! Gah! All of these reality shows suck!". The only hope we're going to have is if they go the VH1 route and still put out a WWE Classic channel for super nerds.
I can't wait to see all of those unedited ECW promos…. Right?
This movie has to be awesome. I never thought I'd be so enthusiastic about a remake of a horror movie, but this one just falls into place for me. I always liked the original, but it was never my favorite. The tone, the direction, and the story was cool but the performances didn't connect with me. Maybe it was just a "different era" thing, because I generally like the stars of the original. This movie has people in it that I'm already a big fan of. Chloe Grace Moretz is quickly becoming the coolest young actress out there right now. She keeps taking on awesome roles and looks to be having a blast with it. Then on top of that, Julianne Moore and Judy Greer! Two of the best actresses out there today. The tone seems to be "dark" for today's standards and it should be a pretty fun movie. I wonder if they throw in new twists or if they stay true to the original. Either way, I'm in!
That's all for now! I've had a blur of a week. I really enjoyed this week's column. I like all the ingredients and I feel my voice is stronger than ever. I've started plotting out my columns for the rest of the year so my teetering idea of "retiring" after this batch of pre-written topics wears down is now teetering towards "I'll do some more". I also had a somewhat inspired idea to expand The Savage Animal into a new direction. This whole process is something I'll probably consider more towards the end of the year. It could be life raft and jump start The Savage Animal needs! Next week is the anniversary of Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift! I have a whole ramble ready to unleash about it in a retrospective piece. After that, I'm going balls out with TWO two-part Top 20 lists. I'll be looking at the "Top 20 Frontmen Under 40" and the "Top 20 Non-Music Rockstars". After all of this gets out there, we'll be at that point where I'll have to figure out the next step. We'll see! Until next time… Have a Great Week!