Pop songs ﬁnd
new fans, lose
meaning in TV
By Mark Brown
SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
lot of music fans have got-
Aten over the trauma real or
imagined. of hearing their
favorite songs in TV commercials.
It's a practice that used to be a
cultural line in the sand - either
you sold out your songs to peddle
products or you didn't. When a clas-
sic song turned up as a jingle, mu-
sic fans moaned about their memo
ries being sold. never being able to
hear the song the same way again
With the music industry broken
beyond repair. few fans begrudge
artists anymore for getting their
songs heard ( and picking up some
trash) any way thEy can.
Even Pete Townshend‘s explana-
tion that a whole generation of fans
wouldn’t know “Baba O'Riley" or
“Won’t Get Fooled Again" if not for
placement in movies and commer-
cials carries a lot more weight these
days than it did a decade ago.
Maybe songs as
big as those two
classics would get
but millions of
kids across the
Jack" because of
the Hummer mm M
mercial. rather 7W
than its appear-
ance on the Who’s second album.
But what’s still jarring. even af-
ter hundreds of commercials, is
hearing something taken out of
context and made to mean some-
thing entirely diﬂ'erent. For exam-
ple, it's likely that a lot of jaws
dropped when “The Apprentice"
debuted with the theme song “ For
the Love of Money."
The original O‘Jays song. one of
the classic soul-funk tunes. warns.
among other things: “Don't let mon-
ey rule you. . . . For the love of mon-
ey people can’t even walk the
streets. . . . People
will lie. Lord. they
will cheat. . . .
Money is the root
of all evil"
Yet here it is.
used as the snap
py theme for a
show that is all
about nothing but
making the most
possible money to cling to 15 min-
utes of TV fame. It's as galling as a
campaign ad, since it takes a few
sound bites out of context and com-
pletely changes the meaning.
Intentional irony is a different
matter. Hearing Roy Orbison‘s
overwrought. lovasick cry of “It's
over . . . it’s over!" on a commercial
about the end of DVD-rental late
fees, well. that's just funny stuﬁ.
With the careful editing that "For
the Love of Money" got. however.
someone knew exactly what the
song meant and how to make it
mean something else.
Most songs and product place
ment are easy to live with. Led Zen
pelin's “Rock and Roll" selling
Cadillacs? Fine. Sting selling
Jaguars? What could be more per-
The ones with a lyrical discon-
nect. however. are harder to ignore.
The Clash never got the payday it
deserved, so fans have little prob
lem with the group making money
from its legacy. But ‘London Call
ing,‘ ’a harrowing tale of Armaged-
don selling cars?
Aimee Mann. a singer-song-
writer with a peerless track record
and a gorgeous voice. made a seri-
ous gaffe when she sang Burt
Bacharach's gorgeous "What the
World Needs Now" for a commer-
cial. The song's point is that the
world needs “love," not the goods
they're peddling down at the mall.
at the Gap.
Aerosmith's “Dream On" — a
song about aging. death. oblivion --
is the latest high-pmﬁle entry into
the scene. shilling for a new line of
Buicks. One could argue it‘s the
perfect midlife crisis song. I sup
But the current classic has to be
"There She Goes] Originally writ-
ten by the La's. it is thought by
many to be a love song. It is. of
sorts: a love song to heroin. “There
she goes again, pulsing through my
veins. . . . No one else can heal my
pain.” lead singer Lee Mavers
crooned in 1990 before the band dis-
appeared into oblivion. commercial
Now it is covered in a commer-
cial by Sixpence None the Richer, a
Christian band out of Texas that
had a minor hit years ago with
It's a commercial for drugs of an-
other kind — birthcontrol pills.