Tuesday, July 26, 2005

"Back to School" goes Back in the Day

The Choice is Yours?

"Back to School" time sucks. Remember that shit? You're all cold chilling, watching TV after swimming or hangin' with your peeps at the playground, and then -- like a grotesquely tentacled creature from the depths of the malicious mere of spoil your fun -- the back to school commercial rears its ugly head. Hordes of impossibly happy children in colorful outfits! Shiny lunchboxes! STUDENT PLANNERS!!! That back to school commercial punctures the fantasy of the endless summer, it reminds you that summer is ending, that you must go back to school. Run for your life!!!!!

Though it was about half a lifetime ago, I can still remember my reaction to the "back to school" advertisements. It was something like:

Yuck! Yuck! Fuck you back to school! With your composition notebooks and looseleaf and pocket folders. You can't fool me. School supplies and new shoes will mean nothing when I'm hurriedly copying someone else's Spanish homework before the bell rings. When I'm getting the answers out of the back of my Algebra book and wondering how the hell I'm going to show my "work." When I'm eating a gross, government-subsided "food" item on the bleachers.

Anyway, fifteen years ago I was going into the tenth grade (what a hell hole!). Interestingly, the soundtrack to this year's "back to school" commercials is the same one I had that summer. As if advertising wasn't evil enough. For example:

JC Penny and The Black Sheep's "The Choice is Yours"

P.S. In my google search for "Black Sheep" I also found this.

Target's bizzar-o rendition of Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back"

Like Sir Mix, the Target folks aspire to pun on "back", referencing both "backpacks" and "back to school"(cringe). Poor Sir Mix, first Ross and Rachel sing this song to their kid in the final and most irritating days of Friends, and now this. Do you think Sir Mix got paid for that Friends shit?

Kohl's mash-up of Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded me with Science"

Kids walk behind big test tubes and their outfits change! Poetry in Motion indeed!

Now, I have to admit that I'm glad the Black Sheep song is getting some play. It's a great song! And if advertising is going to be so evil, it might as well be entertaining. And of course the pop song as backdrop to corporate pimping ain't anything new (I can still remember when I first saw the Nike commercial that used the Beatles' song "Revolution"). But nothing can diminish the surprise of hearing the Ramones or the Go-Go's or the Clash or Modest Mouse or Nick Drake in a commercial. And absolutely nothing can diminish the pain of going back to school.


the sad billionaire said...

As an orthodox Marxist musician, one would think that I would hate music being whored for commercials. And you would be right!

However, i would let any corporation use any music of mine for free if these songs could be forever removed from commercials:

1)Mungo Jerry's "In The Summertime" (especially if the ad features a young couple riding a tandem bicycle)

2)Lovin' Spoonful's "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind" (especially if the ad features somebody having to make up their mind between two attractive prospective mates, or between two delicious dessert treats)

3)(jazz standard) "I Only Have Eyes For You" (especially if it involves somebody ogling a food item in a sexual way)

4)George Thorogood's "Bad To The Bone" under any circumstances, ever, with a baby in sunglasses and a motorcycle jacket.

nhennies said...

Being a radical musician who detests our society of radical commercialism as much as the next guy, I can safely say that I would give some music of mine to an advertiser in exchange for money so I didn't have to sit here in this boring job commenting in my friends' blogs all day for $11.50/hour and could spend time doing something worthwhile like making more music that will never touch a commercial of any kind.

Jenny said...

I remember once being really psyched up about a song in a commerial. It was when indiglo watches first came out--remember this one? And they started playing "Strangers in the Night" while a lonely firefly was buzzing around the screen. And then the person lit up his indiglo watch and the firefly fell in love with the watch face. I loved that one.

But back to back to school...Remember the Fall Fashion/Back to School issue of Seventeen? That issue used to stress the shit out of me. My outfits never looked even close to the ones they showed in that magazine. And the shoes. So many different kinds of shoes to buy. My mom used to buy me one pair of penny loafers and one pair of keds. and that was it.

downtown said...

Where are the lyrics to the Target commercial? I have a feature on my blog called "E-gads! Bad Ads" and this one deserves a full transcript.
Is that actually Sir Mix-a-Lot rapping the Target lyrics, or a low-budged imitator? I love the part about the "cell phone pocket on the side."
PLEASE somebody point me to the full lyrics of the commercial. I already have the original lyrics memorized, after years of going to lame dance clubs. thank you!

femme feral said...

there is NO WAY the person rapping in that target commercial is Sir Mix-A-Lot.