So we’re sitting in the studio today, working our way through our task lists and I’ve got my iPod playing through the overhead speakers. Today’s selection: The Beatles, a.k.a. The White Album. Nothing out of the ordinary… classic rock makes it into the rotation with some regularity.
As the lunch hour rolled around, a 20-something co-worker sat down at the big table to eat and said, “What are we listening to?” Before I could muster an answer, another office mate replied “I don’t know, but it sucks.” Blasphemy! Heresy! I look up and Rick is shaking his head, not knowing what to say either. (But he has kids that age so I guess he’s been here before.) After offering some enlightenment to my young co-workers, I thought to myself “How do they not know these songs? If nothing else, several of them have been in huge national ad campaigns.”
So gather ’round, kids. Uncle Jim’s going to teach you about rock using a medium we can all relate to: advertising. Here’s a handful of bands you Gen-Y types (or whatever you are calling yourselves these days) should know. You kids in the back, pay attention!
Let’s start at the source: The Beatles. That song we were listening to in the studio was “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” and I can forgive not knowing that one (maybe) but just a few tracks later is Revolution 1, which you might know better as “that song in the Nike commercial.” We all know that John was talking about social change, not changing your gym shoes, but I guess the King of Pop had bills to pay, and he owned the rights, so who am I to judge? Without The Beatles, there is no U2, so show some respect.
Next up is Johnny Allen Hendrix, but the world knew him as Jimi. And while most people remember the clever Pepsi commercial, I’m partial to this trippy Audi spot. And for you youngsters out there… no Jimi, no Jack White.
Now you can’t talk about guitar gods named Jim without mentioning Jimmy Page, who played for a band called Led Zeppelin, back in the days before MP3s, when you music came one of two ways: on vinyl or on 8-Track. Well, in 2003, Cadillac used one of their songs to pitch luxury cars to your parents during the Super Bowl. Those of you who love Foo Fighters have Zepp to thank.
OK, this last one isn’t exactly a rocker, but it’s a pretty great use of pop music used to push product. The client was Heinz Ketchup, the song was Anticipation and the artist was Carly Simon. Surely your mom had a Carly album laying around the house back in the day. She was a 70’s singer-songwriter…You’re So Vain…she won an Oscar in the 80’s. Still not ringing a bell? She had a famously rocky marriage to James Taylor. What do you mean “Who’s James Taylor?” Sweet Baby James… he sang “Fire and Rain.” Oh, never mind.
You punk kids get off my lawn!