Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Violent Femmes-Burger, with Cheese

I thought I was the only one who had noticed it for a while -- that a Wendy's commercial was using music from The Violent Femmes "Blister In The Sun" to sell their greasy food. I did one of those spit-takes when I heard it -- and pondered if anyone at Wendy's might know the lyrics.

Who knows? Maybe some ad folks thought it would be funny.

Anyway, the other night while wasting time watching something mindless on TV, the commercial comes on and The Editor says -- "ummm ... is that ....?" So then I knew at least two people who thought the ad was a little odd.

Far ahead of the crowd though, was John at Salem's Lots, who not only wrote about the ad, but even had a comment on his post from the very unhapy Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie. "I see my life’s work trivialized at the hands of my business partner over and over again, although I have raised my objections numerous times. As disgusted as you are I am moreso ".

Way cool that Brian left a comment and like John, I've been a fan of the band too.

But my Creep-O-Meter went off the scale and broke years ago when advertisers started using great rock and roll songs to sell crap - or more accurately perhaps, to sell some product's Philosophy of Lifestyle.

Just last night I was caught off guard again when I realized some toothbrush company ad was using KISS' tune "I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night" for their toothbrush. At least they didn't change the lyrics to say "I wanna brush my teeth all night, and floss every day." And a friend just reminded me today that for some time now, Kentucky Fried Chicken uses the song "Sweet Home Alabama" to sell their greasy food. Call it ad-logic.

And in just a moment or two of web-searching, I found a web site which tracks all the rock and other music used in advertising, movies, tv, etc. So again, I'm very late to a party which has been going on for years. My dad used to tell me "Boy, when your boat comes in, you'll probably be at the airport."

Hell, half the time, I see some ad skitter across the screen and have absolutely no idea what has just been advertised. Was it a cologne? Floor wax? Car insurance? Diapers? Shoes? Drugs? These ads always seem to have Incredibly Happy People running among green fields, wearing sweaters draped over their shoulders with the sleeves making a knot, or making a car jump a bajillion feet or some folks taking a slow-motion stroll on the beach at sunrise and everyone shaking hands and hugging, somehow exhilarated at long last that some bane of life has become a boon instead.

Music can just arrive in the strangest ways from my surroundings, like that dude who had the theme from "The Exorcist" as the ring tone for his cell phone.

It all sort of reminds me that things have become a mega-miniature James Joyce-like stream of fragments and fractals, mash-ups of memories and moments blended to make some easily-digested smoothie of experience.


  1. "I'm high as a kite, I just might stop to check you out! Big hands, I know you're the one".

    I like the cruse ship one with Iggy Pop doing "Lust for Life", dirty little ditty for a family vacation. Here is a sample:

    Well, Im just a modern guy
    Of course, Ive had it in the ear before.
    I have a lust for life
    cause of a lust for life.

    Just shows to go us that ads grow-up with us I guess.

  2. I'm sure there's been hundreds I have just missed 'cos I wasn't paying attention. The first several that shocked me the most and broke my heart (The Breeders, The Buzzcocks, and the Ramones) I listed the links to my initial horror postings in the '90s in the comments in the Femmes thread at Hutch's page.

    After those three I kinda got immune to it all, tho the news of the Femmes one was still a little shocking to me. As long as Paul W. holds out and I never hear a Replacements song like that, I'll probably be OK - but if that happens, oooooh.

  3. I know what you all mean. I seen this coming years ago. I knew when they started exploiting hippy songs from the 60's to sell their products that it wouldn't be long before they'd start using my own generation's classics like My War by Black Flag to sell dandruff shampoo or some shit.

    Well, guess I was close.

    (BTW- It really bothers me to hear Bob Marley songs in commercials and in retail stores selling clothes made by exploited third world child labor.)

  4. james2:14 AM

    Joe,I quit listening years ago when Coke started using "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing ".I have two solutions when the commercials come on,hit the mute or switch to another channel for three minutes.By the way are you getting my jokes or deleting them.

  5. Yeah, I guess it was 2 or 3 weeks ago when I first noticed the Femmes song. As Jed points out the lyrics... well... that was what ran through my head as the the commercial played: "They are selling fast food using a song that talks about being 'high as a kite!' "

    Of course, I'm a great critic of commercials in general, finding so many of them nonsensical.

    A recent favorite is for a male enhancement drug that features a very good-looking "older" couple. The premise of the commercial is that the drug works when you want it to. So here they are, about to go upstairs to do the nasty when their kids and grandkids come knocking on the door. Then there is a montage of them walking along in a variety of seaside settings, all leading to them (and here's the nonsensical moment) holding hands while they each sit in individual bath tubs that are set in the sea shore...???!!! And this means?

    And like Joe, I felt that the KISS song toothbrushes was quite a shock. I believe my comment was, "Because we can't have one minute out of our day where we aren't being completely stimulated by 'technology.'"

  6. James - have recevied no emails from ya!

  7. Anonymous11:46 PM

    I think the song choice was intentional and a clue. The commercial alludes to the great Seinfeld "Master of his own domain" episode, except substitute taking a drink for you know what.

    The song is a clue.