idk.

music.

Do TV Commercials Ruin Good Songs? (Yeah, Pretty Much)

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This week I was planning to write about Chicago pop-experimentalists, Walter Meego (the cool guys in the glasses), whose first studio album, Voyager (Sony 2008), was released last month. (Yes, Walter Meego is actually two people. No, neither one is named Walter or Meego). Unfortunately, an unexpected monkey wrench was thrown smack into the middle of my best laid plans.

Here’s what happened: I was watching some soccer on TV over the weekend when a new Heineken commercial promoting their idiotic “Beertender” home mini-kegerator came on. I guess it might not be so idiotic if Heineken didn’t taste like unfiltered Dutch canal water. But it does. So as far as I’m concerned it’s idiotic. Anyway, the song featured prominently in the “Home Bars” ad spot in question (watch the ad here) brought an instant scowl to my face. “Those Heineken beer-Nazi sonofabitches,” I said to no one but the television, “they jacked my fucking song — already.” The song was Walter Meego’s “Forever,” which just happens to be my favorite Walter Meego song. (Listen to it here).

Sonofabitches.

Now, it was ruined. Forever. “Forever” was ruined forever. Or so I felt. My favorite song from a relatively new and largely unknown experimental pop group (what the hell is experimental pop anyway?) had been reduced to nothing more than another cheap cog in the beer world’s mega-marketing wheel of death and societal detriment. Weren’t alternative/indie musicians like Walter Meego supposed to tell advertisers to fuck off when asked to use their songs anyway? What gives?

At first I wished that I had just never seen the commercial. That would’ve made everything okay. Unfortunately my Men In Black “Flashy Thing” has been broken for years. (Except when it comes to finding my keys). So that option was out.

Then I thought to myself: wait, what would Beavis & Butthead do??

(Okay, not really).

But I did think of their old 90s TV adage: “This sucks, change it.”

So I did. 

But it was already too late. The damage had been done. I knew that I would never be able to appreciate Walter Meego’s experimental pop anthem “Forever” as I had before it became just another song in just another beer commercial.* And for Heinken, no less! The world’s foremost purveyor of really bad beer that we’re supposed to think is good just because it’s imported! I also knew I could no longer write a laudatory piece about Walter Meego in this space. Why not, you ask?

Their music’s in beer commercials, man! How NOT awesome is that?  

Okay yeah, their music is in been commercials now. But is that really a fair point for judgment on my part?

Sonofabitches.

A quick perusal of Walter Meego’s MySpace page says maybe it’s not. After all, not everyone shares my displeasure and discouragement after seeing “Forever” in the Heineken commercial. The comments tell the story:

“Gabe the Monster” writes: “i just heard “forever” on a heineken commercial. an awesome beer teamed up with an awesome band = great combination! congrats!”

“Omar (VLNY)” writes: “CONGRATS ON LANDING THAT HEINEKEN COMERCIAL..I LIT UP WHEN I HEARD IT,GOOD MUSIC AND GOOD BEER EQUALS GOOD TIMES.”

“Mighty Mighty H Man” writes: “i too caught the Heineken commercial and my jaw nearly fell off with excitement of how pop you guys are becoming. Please keep it up, you’re an inspiration to us all!”

Well. Clearly Gabe and Omar need to hang out together. (GABE AND OMAR EQUALS GOOD TIMES!!) And “Mighty Mighty H Man” (I really hope he slangs the heron for a living) could not have a viewpoint much further from my own. He seems genuinely excited by Walter Meego’s newfound popularity, while I could not be more disappointed in having a song I consider to be genuinely good become commercialized (or even popularized) thanks to its connection with a lousy beer maker. 

Regardless, I tend to think that the instantaneous and nearly guttural reaction I had to seeing a song I liked (by a somewhat still-under-the-radar artist) appear in a beer commercial speaks volumes about the amazing associative property of music itself. Songs can quickly (and firmly) embed themselves in our minds as representations of times, places, and people in our past. But semiotically speaking, they can also become equally representative of ideas, opinions, tastes, and vice-versa. This seems to be an instance where the latter took hold for me.

I should add that despite everything, I still think Walter Meego are an interesting and musically intriguing duo, who can’t quite be pushed into just one box, which is good. And I still think “Forever” is a fun song that deserves to be recommended to people who haven’t heard it yet — especially the outro, which is great. I just don’t think I’ll be able to have the same respect for it I once did. And I don’t think I want to write extensively about Walter Meego as I once did.

But I remain curious as to how others feel about this subject. Do people enjoy seeing their favorite artists in commercials or advertisements? Or does it make them cringe as it does me? And does it symbolize a loss of musical credibility for the artists? Or is it actually an accomplishment, and not just a financial windfall? 

All opinions are welcome. You have mine.

– Jonathan

*(Note: I have no idea what an experimental pop anthem actually is, or even if they exist. But if they do, I feel like “Forever” definitely qualifies as one. On the other hand, if they don’t exist, and I just completely made that up, then “Forever” is officially the world’s first experimental pop anthem. Sweet).

Walter Meego’s official MySpace page

Walter Meego’s official Website

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One Response

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  1. get over it
    musicians need to make money –
    respect that

    nyteowl

    July 29, 2008 at 8:05 pm


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