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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Jukebox TV: Name that tune.

If there's a downside to DVR's -- and this is the only one I can think of -- it's that flying past commercials isn't always the best move. Some spots are actually worth watching. No, I'm not talking about that annoyingly nonsensical Wendy's ad with the burger singing an Air Supply song. And seriously, if I see the commercial with that way-too-cool-for-his-own-good dad handing out V-Cast phones to his "number ones" again, I may soon be looking for a new TV.

The commercials worth viewing? Those are the ones with awesome songs churning in the background -- or subconsciously burrowing in your head forever as you immediately fixate on a rotating iPod nano (Feist's "1234"), a cascading waterfall of M&Ms (Iron and Wine's "Such Great Heights") and a juicy Outback T-Bone (Of Montreal's "Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games.")

As a bit of a music snob (though not as bad as I used to be), associating unsung but beloved musicians with watered-down beer or flame-broiled Whoppers just seemed wrong, wrong, wrong. But having read enough interviews with respected indie artists, I've turned the corner in recent years. Blending art with commerce doesn't have to mean a complete compromise of integrity. It's the two-fold argument of a) actually paying some bills with a music career confined to the fringes and b) making songs more accessible to the masses since terrestrial radio has been gobbled up by profit-fueled conglomerates and channels like MTV no longer play videos. After all, without Apple, the Fratellis' "Flathead" wouldn't have been heard by anyone. A year ago at this time, I had to do my best just to track the album down as an import. Now, you can find "Costello Music" at Target for $8.99.

As long as the lyrics aren't completely changed from "Whip It" to "Swiffer," I'm buying. The idea. Not the product.

Anyway, with a little blog feature I like to call Jukebox TV, I plan on posting some recently spotted commercials that use songs I've already grown to love. Maybe you're curious who the actual artists are. Maybe it's simply a song you haven't heard in awhile. Maybe you just want to complain that a commercial is on way too much. Either way, if there's an ad you want me to check out or try and identify by song, I'm game. Leave a comment or e-mail me. I'll do my best to track it down and post about it down the road.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

Rogue Wave: "Lake Michigan" - Zune. Nice use of the song -- off the "Asleep at Heaven's Gate" album, 2007 -- in a quirky, colorful commercial that, not so coincidentally, reminds of me of what Apple did with Feist.

Hum: "Stars" - Cadillac. One of my favorites songs of the '90s. You only get to hear a little bit of the roaring guitar at the end, but it's a memorable part of the song (off "You'd Prefer an Astronaut," 1995). Whoever went on this nostalgia trip for Cadillac deserves a raise.

Cat Power: "How Can I Tell You" -- DeBeers. Not brand new, but played a lot during the holidays. One of the most hotly debated commercials out there because it took awhile to figure out who the singer was. But Matador Records confirmed that it's Cat Power's Chan Marshall covering Cat Stevens. As far as I can tell, the song hasn't been released and there aren't any plans beyond this snippet. Sorry.

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How about the car ad with The Funeral by Band of Horses?

By Blogger Antony, At December 28, 2007 at 11:00 AM  

Yeah, I couldn't find a high quality version on YouTube, but that was one of my choices, too. The Shins and Strokes are on two commercials I recently saw. Either way, there's a lot of material to cover.

-- Tom

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At December 28, 2007 at 11:05 AM  

With radio playing the same songs over and over I actually get most of my new music from commercials! I bought the Feist and Ingrid Michaelson cds after hearing their material on TV. Not to mention Landon Pigg's "Coffee Shop" a GREAT song!!

By Anonymous Anonymous, At January 7, 2008 at 9:59 PM  

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