Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Music to buy stuff to

Further reflection on Etta James passing, mostly because I was a little pissed she wasn't mentioned at the Grammies (which also lets you know how long ago I started writing this blog post. And if you think the way my blog posts meander from one shiny thing to the next is a reflection [see how I worked "reflection" and "shiny" into a sentence. I'm a freakin' genius!] on how my life goes, you may be on to something), led me to think about how I've been introduced to other artists.

As mentioned previously, I was turned on to James hearing her music in a Jaguar commercial (the car company, not the cat. Though, come to think of it, jaguars [the cats, not the cars] could use some extra publicity. Did you know jaguars are the largest cats in the Western hemisphere, or that they're the third largest cats after lions and tigers, or that they, like tigers, enjoy swimming? I didn't think so, aaaaannnnd check mate. Wait, what game are we playing?).

I realized, to my chagrin, I had been introduced to a number of musicians through commercials.

The chagrin is because commercials are generally annoying (e.g. any toilet paper [sorry, "bathroom tissue"] commercial), but at least television has a consistent, stable economic model unlike certain other media (Yeah, I'm looking at you Internet and journalism) and also because some of the commercials were for products from companies I refuse to do business with.

Well, not the Jaguar commercial. That's not so much an ethical issue as much as an economic one.

Oh, that and I need a car that runs most of the time.


The Bobbettes


The Bobbettes were a New York-based R&B group who, with their hit Mr. Lee, became the first female band to have a #1 R&B song hit the top 10 in the pop charts.

I was introduced to The Bobbettes through a commercial for calorie reduced Oreo cookies. Eww.

I understand and respect the need to reduce weight. I also understand how difficult that can be, but substituting high calorie junk food with junk food with a slightly lower calorie junk food isn't a great long-term plan. It's simply reinforcing the idea that you don't need to make any lifestyle changes, you just need to buy the right products.

The Sonics


Land Rover introduced me to The Sonics, and for that I'll be forever grateful. The Sonics are a proto-punk band from Seattle who recorded in the early sixties. Their original music is fun, but I love their cover's of other's music particularly Holland Dozier Holland's Money.

Bo Diddley


Another car company, Mazda, used Bo Diddley's Road Runner in a commercial introducing their Skyactive technologies. I know Bo (Is that a pun or is it something else? Would it work better if I said 'I know Diddley'. ) of course, but I'd never heard Road Runner before. And my life was poorer for it.

As a bit of trivia, Jaguar, Land Rover and Mazda were all owned by Ford.

Just sayin' is all.

I haven't bought a Nike product since I first had the concept of a sweat shop explained to me, but they did introduce me to The Killers, TV on the Radio, and Saul Williams. There have been concerns about labour practices at Nike factories since the 1970's and despite repeated promises and claims of improvement the evidence of egregious labour practices continue. But they've got a good beat and they're easy dance to.

The Killers


The Killers are a band from Las Vegas and the song All These Things That I've Done features The Sweet Inspirations who, in turn, featured Cissy Houston, whom you probably know by now is the mother of Whitney Houston.

But damn, ya gotta love that hook!

TV on the Radio

TV on the Radio (I love that name) are a New York-based band who I'm sure drive their label's marketing department insane because they won't settle to a single style. Post-punk, funk and soul from a band influenced by Brian Eno, Nancy Sinatra and Prince.

I'm pretty sure marketing types are not pleased with having to promote anything that could be best described as eclectic.

Saul Williams

Speaking of eclectic, Williams is an artist who works in multiple disciplines, in a variety of ways. He is an actor, musician and writer who does voice work, theatre, vocals, instruments and lyrics. 

Whether you agree with the Occupy movement or not, I think this should be their theme song. Someone should propose it at the General Assembly in Zuccotti Park. It would be doubly cool because it would be a song used in a Nike commercial which may also express the sentiments of the children making their shoes. Or perhaps, their parents.

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