IS IT CAR OR TRUCK, DO I EVEN GIVE A . . .
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.