Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Back in July I posted the first entry in what I suspected & feared would be a running gag: The Depressingly Inappropriate Cool Song Use In A Crappy Commercial, or as I sophmorically dubbed it, the "DICSUCC" (my motto being, If The Dubbing Ain't Sophmoric, Why Bother?). The Who's Magic Bus, as featured in a Nissan ad, and the especially horrendous use of Blondie's One Way Or Another, for Swiffer, were the initial entries.

And three months later, we've had no follow ups. Is this because Madison Avenue called an emergency meeting in late July, under the announced heading, "Mike's on to us, we need to regroup"? Possibly. Certainly possible. But not necessarily. My own explanation is that I began to watch TV in a lazy way, grooving on the cool tunes leveraged by corporate pimps to move their products, rather than stewing in outrage.

Which is my standard M.O. (Gee, can you imagine how fun it is for my wife or friends to watch TV with me?)

So, with no further ado, here we go with the long-anticipated DICSUCC, Version 2.0:

1. Iron Man, Black Sabbath -- Nissan: I've gotta hand it to them, these guys are Good. (Sorry, Thrill, I'm talking about Nissan, not Ozzy & Tony & the boys. Though I always thought Geezer played a mean bass). This one came on during one of the playoff games last weekend, and as the opening drone played through the TV, I found myself saying, "I-Am-Iron-Man" under my breath in that robotic voice. Watching baseball, I also reminded myself of something I've long thought: Iron Man would make an excellent "Closer's Song," even better than Hell's Bells or Enter Sandman. But that's just one man's opinion.

Anyway, they were already into the heavy riffing/drum part when I realized it was a fucking Nissan commercial! Yes, the Nissan Titan ("full-size power, all truck, and no compromise"), yet another in a growing family of grossly oversized pickups for fat Americans who don't need pickups. Built to save the world, but due to mistreatment and ingratitude, set to return one day to kill the people it once saved.

Or something like that.

2. I'm Free, Rolling Stones -- Chase Freedom Visa Card. Or was it Mastercard? Not sure which, so long as it's about Freedom! Chase's whole ad campaign tries to push this "free" idea: free credit card, free to buy what you want, free to go into debt any ole' time, whatever. And, impressively, they use a re-mixed, re-produced version of the somewhat obscure Stones original, not the more frequently-heard Soup Dragons cover, a fairly big hit in 1990. Other than the distinctive voice of Young Mick, you'd never know it was the Stones.

Either way, it sucks, it's depressing, and it pisses me off because it combines so many things I despise into one commercial: extolling the virtues of spending, spending, spending, regardless of whether one can afford it; making this spending seem like an expression of freedom; the use of a pop song in advertising; re-jiggering that pop song to make it fit into the commercial, in terms of duration & theme; and most unpleasantly, a reminder of that lame period in music just before 1991 when Nirvana & friends broke it all down. 1990, folks. Among the big hits that year, heard on nominally rock-oriented radio stations: Ice Ice Baby, You're Unbelievable, Right Here Right Now, & I'm Free. Talk about debt.

3. Sweet Home Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd -- Yeah, I know this is way too overplayed to be "cool." Hell, if Free Bird is southern rock's Stairway, then Sweet Home has to be its or Satisfaction or Johnny B. Goode: the super-tight, rocking statement of its genre which is nonetheless so cliched at this point that it's almost unlistenable. But, let's not forget, it's overplayed because it's good. Imagine hearing it for the first time. Surely you'd be impressed.

Anyway, it's probably been used on TV more than once, so you might be asking why it earns a slot in this post. Well, mostly because of the product it's supporting: KFC Snackers. That's right, KFC.

For those of you too young to remember, KFC used to be called Kentucky Fried Chicken, before they changed the name to distract folks from the fact that their greasy, revolting chicken was actually fried ('cause this being modern America and all, if you don't say something, it isn't true, aka, If You Don't Call It "Fried," Then It's Not "Fried"). Fried or not though, the Colonel was from Kentucky. Kentucky, not Alabama. But on TV, in 2006, as the goofy white boy hangs out of his car window to tell the goofy white girl and the goofy white man that KFC Snackers now come with cheese (no kidding), and still cost $0.99, the music that plays is Sweet Home Alabama.

I guess My Old Kentucky Home is a tad too staid for the KFC crowd.

But the irony runs ever deeper. As alluded to with my "goofy white" comments earlier, it's long been stereotyped that KFC's primary customers are Black. I have no idea if this is true, but it sure is funny that the main ad campaign features the musical response of a buncha' white Southerners to Neil Young's (a Canadian) accusations of racism in Southern Man.

I hope Colonel Sanders will remember, a KFC customer don't need southern rock songs to make him buy fried chicken sandwiches, anyhow.


Blogger DED said...

I think that using the Stones' version of "I'm Free" was hoped to be a "twofer". Gen X-ers would recognize the song from when the Soup Dragons did it (better version IMO) while younger Boomers would recognize Jagger if not the fact that the Stones did it in the first place.

Can't see why Iommi would sell out "Iron Man." Maybe he needs the money, though with all of those successful Ozzfest tours with Sabbath at the helm, you have to wonder.

Check out Geezer Butler's band, Geezer. "Plastic Planet" was a really solid metal album (no sub-genre flavors of the month). It's got a Sabbath outlook, altough it's heavier. The guy from Fear Factory does the vocals.


11:55 AM  
Blogger DED said...

Sorry, the name of Geezer Butler's band is: GZR. I just figured it was font effects on the album, but no.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Alan P. said...

(Gee, can you imagine how fun it is for my wife or friends to watch TV with me?)...

I know what you mean, I am awful about this.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

It's got a Sabbath outlook, altough it's heavier.

Oh my. That's way past my range.

I am awful about this.

Mort, why am I not surprised at this revelation?

12:57 PM  
Blogger Alan P. said...

Heck, I can watch a Bugs Bunny cartoon and get pissed off. I can't watch television or read a newspaper in the presence of others, it's terrible.

2:02 PM  
Blogger Alan P. said...

Those friggin' looney tunes, nothing but lies and distortion, and the waste, oh, I get all melancholy. ;-)

2:05 PM  
Blogger Thrillhous said...

Great post! And I totally agree w/ Ded on the twofer. It even happened - the wife thought it was the Dragons, while I id'd it as Stones.

I think they sold rights to Iron Man a long time ago; I remember the NWA wrestlers The Road Warriors would come out to it.

Man, I sure could go for some KFC snackers, with cheese!

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mike
Thanks for the posting tip. Lets see if it works.
Yeah. I saw some stupid ad where they did "Big Country". And not by "Big Country". Don't know what the product was. I put it out of my mind. It doesn't deserved to be remembered. Also one where they had some mope singing "I Walk the Line". They both sucked big hornet dong, and the producers and singers should be rounded up and sent to Gitmo with the other stateless combatants. Under the heading of soulless rat ants. Man. If they're gonna do that stuff. at least do the songs some freakin' justice.


9:42 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...


I'm sure Mrs Thrillhous would be pleased: under Ded's rubric, that makes her younger than you. I've never met a woman who'd choose being right over being young.

And since I'm not aware that any woman has visited this blog since the invention of the Y chromosome, I'm not worried of being accused of sexism.


It's funny, but the awful covers of popular songs in commercials don't bother me as much as hearing the originals.

But I can certainly understand your pain, especially re Johnny (have you seen the Travelocity, or Expedia ad that uses I've Been Everywhere?

Also funny that they'd use a cover of "In A Big Country." The guitar sound is the only notable thing about the original. Were they able to duplicate it?

6:21 AM  
Blogger DED said...

Man they slaughtered "In A Big Country". It was awful. No, Mike. The guitar sound was gone. It was just vocals, reinterpreted. It was like the "singer" was trying to turn it into a soulful ballad or something. It made me want to wretch.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Do you remember what company it was for?

11:54 AM  
Anonymous donna said...

Do folks remember the SUV-type vehicle commercial with "Like a Rock"? Probably another Nissan commercial.


There are absolutely incredible classic Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd cartoons set to opera. The Marriage of Figaro and...damn, I don't know my opera. Bugs was Brunhilda and Elmer was going to kill the wabbit. Remember that? Hysterically funny, both of them.

I'd like to see "Let's Spend the Night Together" on a Trojan commercial, myself.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Like A Rock was Chevy. Chevy Trucks.

They've been using Bob Seger -- Detroit man that he is -- to peddle their trucks for as long as I can remember.

Lately, though, it's been John Mellencamp. Have they moved their factory to Indiana? I would've figured they'd use someone from China.

5:37 AM  
Anonymous donna said...

Oh yeah. Chevy. I couldn't care less so the product didn't register, only Bob's song.

12:15 PM  
Blogger DED said...

No Mike. I can't remember what company was using "Big Country" to shill product. I was too disgusted and changed the channel.

Hey! Look Mike! You've got a woman reading your blog. ;)

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Shhhhhhh, Ded. We'll have to hide the porn & watch our drinking.

Actually, Donna's one of the originals here, just like you. I thought the two or three people who've actually suffered since the beginning knew each other.

And, as far as I know, I may have a handful (literally, 5 or less) of semi-regular female readers. My own wife, for instance, fits into the "semi" portion of that label.

I guess baseball, political snark, juvenile humor, and geeky references to movies, tv and music aren't a total turnoff.

12:39 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Well, we haven't been formally introduced, but I thought I'd seen her post before. I thought that I should just play along in response to this comment of yours:

And since I'm not aware that any woman has visited this blog since the invention of the Y chromosome, I'm not worried of being accused of sexism.

11:42 PM  

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