S.S.O.S. (Stop Spoiling Our Songs)

In these troubled times of Trump and Brexit and all the rest, it’s very easy for us to lose sight of the most insidious, creeping evil in modern times.

The appropriation of great records to try and sell us stuff we neither want nor need.

Broadly, the version of a once great classic that appears in adverts falls into one of two categories:

  1. A whimsical, piano backed cover version, usually performed by an unknown, but breathy female singer, or
  2. A version with altered lyrics, which now mention the actual product.

But rarely does the actual song itself feature, which I assume is something to do with whoever owns the publishing rights for the song in question.

I would dearly love to see some statistics showing the success of these ad campaigns. Do they actually work? Because whenever I see one of those adverts, I immediately pledge to never buy anything by the company putting the adverts on.

There’s one on at the moment. I’m not going to name the company it aims to promote, but it’s for a travel agent who has recently changed it’s name, which I imagine is so that it has the same name as it does overseas (see Marathon bars becoming Snickers, Opal Fruits to Starburst) and definitely not as some sort of tax dodge.

Anyway, the first time I saw that advert, I knew that when I next go on holiday, I will not be booking it through them. (I rarely go on holiday anyway, but that’s not the point.)

So a new thing here, where we reclaim the song back from the capitalist pigs.

And here’s the song in question, which has recently had all life sucked from it. Give it back, Ad Men, it’s not yours to suck!


Rufus and Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody

There will almost definitely be more of these soon. Suggestions welcome.

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9 thoughts on “S.S.O.S. (Stop Spoiling Our Songs)”

  1. With you 100% PLUS on this one.
    Bill Hicks had the right attitude to advertising folk – “By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising…kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I’m doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalisation for what you do, you are Satan’s little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now.”

    Also – if you haven’t seen/heard it – this is a fabulous live version (June 2012) of “Ain’t Nobody”. Almost as good as when I first heard that song! It’s THAT good!

  2. I do wonder what the “singers” are told when they go in to record these adverts: “OK, that was lovely, but can we do another take? This time, think how excruciatingly drab, boring and utterly soulless it can possibly be. Then sing it like that.”
    Thumbs up to Lynchie – anyone who quotes Bill Hicks is OK by me!

  3. Having worked in radio advertising for too many years of my life (and I had that Bill Hicks quote pinned above my desk), I can confirm that it’s often cheaper to get the writer’s permission to use their composition and then pay to have your own version recorded rather than also paying the performer their slice of the cake (which often comes with a much higher price tag). Rarely did I ever get permission to use the original song (and I lost count of the clients who asked to use Simply The Best by Tina Turner). The whole thing left me feeling shabby and unclean, by the way, but occasionally you felt like you were doing something worthwhile. When I got permission to use There’s Nothing Like This by Omar on a campaign, his publisher (I think it was his brother-in-law or someone) told me how happy Omar was to get a cheque for his song after it’d been all but forgotten by radio stations.

  4. Ugh, so true, it’s like everything we’ve ever held in high regard is getting watered down and appropriated. But, thankfully, not Bill Hicks, whose edge will forever stay sharp.

  5. What the fuck has Do I Love You (Indeed I do) got to do with fucking happy eggs? I could just about handle the use of it for shit greasy chicken but eggs!

    I blame Cowell for all these shit slowed down *serious” versions of songs.

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