Saturday, February 24, 2007

Food Fights and Dancing Gorillas

I laughed when I saw the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) ad featuring the Buzzcocks’ song, “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays.” I don't care anymore that pre-recorded songs are in commercials; indeed, I dare say Pete Shelly and the boys are well within AARP’s fifty-something demographic as are their original fans. But, like Jim DeRogatis, I do despair the lack of catchy jingles written specifically for an ad. They were fun and gave songwriters a good gig between shots at pop-star fame.

The “selling out” argument doesn’t hold for me, but DeRogatis points out a more important element of why this lyrical “editorialization” feels wrong:

The message of the AARP ad is that life will be one big, happy birthday party for retiring Baby Boomers, complete with food fights, balloons and dancing gorillas. But the theme of the Buzzcocks' song is exactly the opposite: The key line that sets up the catchy chorus of "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" is "Life's an illusion, love is the dream." The tune was a bookend to another 1979 single, "I Believe," that made the group's cynical worldview even clearer: "There is no love in this world anymore." In other words, the Buzzcocks are saying "life stinks," and AARP is saying "everything's peachy." But the Orwellian power of advertising and TV are such that ever such black and white distinctions can be obliterated

via Glorious Noise

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