Friday, April 15, 2005

The League Grumbles about The End of Youth

I didn't reflect too much on being 30, but here we go.

On the night of my 30th birthday, after Jamie had drifted off to Sleepytime Junction, I was up and reading comics with the TV on.

Although I was not looking at the television, my attention was piqued as the opening bars to Jane's Addiction's 1990 release, Mountain Song, from Nothing's Shocking came from the speakers.

Coors Beer is using Mountain Song in a new commercial.

You can read the press release here, but here's the jist of it.

"Ice City" - Re-edit by Foote Cone & Belding, Chicago
Music: Jane's Addiction "Mountain Song"
Tagline: "Taste the Cold"
Summary: This spot, which was originally created by the Leith Agency and was re-edited by Foote Cone & Belding, shows how a Rocky Mountain cold Coors Light can turn a dreary hot summer day into a wonderful icy-cold experience.

League's editor's note: Yeah. That's what Coors does for me, especially in Houston during the summer, when it's 105 degrees with 95% humidity. It feels just like the snow capped peeks of the Rockies once you get a six pack of Coors in your belly.

I don't really listen to any Jane's Addiction any more. But I did once, and certainly this particular tune was a sort of hallmark song for my teen-age years. The tune is tied up with some good memories and whatnot, and it's not Coors' fault that this sort of diminishes all of that.

Co- opting music is hardly a novel concept. It's not as if songs other people liked weren't used before in order to sell products, or even products I don't personally like. And it's not as if performers I had previously believed weren't pre-disposed to selling their songs for commercials hadn't cashed in before.

Who knows what the amount of cash was that the owners of the song received for use in the Coors commercial? Sure, it's their song, and they can do as they please... It does, however, complete the long journey the band has been taking in consumer acceptance since their initial break-up.

At the time the song was released, the song (and band, and the album) were not favorites of the kids at my school. They could have their Bobby Brown records and Paula Abdul, or whatever. But you wait fifteen years, and while the song certainly has waned in it's preciousness, I find I can still feel protective of it. At one point, it had value and merit.

But that's what happens, I guess. Wait fifteen years and some ad exec just flips through a catalog of songs until he can find a song with a title including the word "mountain" to go along with his "head for the mountains" campaign, cut a check, and that's it. Everybody involved gets a little richer. The ownership you might have felt out of pure emotional attachment doesn't figure in. The dollar almighty speaks louder than that.

I know, I know. None of this is news.

But you start wondering... did the ad exec like this song at some point in their life, too? And if they did, would this be the fate they'd want for the song? An overplayed soundclip timed to pictures of happy frat boys in the mountains? How did they put it? This spot ... shows how a Rocky Mountain cold Coors Light can turn a dreary hot summer day into a wonderful icy-cold experience.

These are the same people who want to make Gene Kelly break dance to sell Volkswagons, and dig up Steve McQueen and make him drive through a corn field to sell Fords... there ain't nothing wrong with it, right? Or, my favorite, taking the images of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, putting sunglasses on them and having them shriek like extreme dudes about the good deals on the local water park.

These were the kids who never played in the woods enough growing up to know that when something is dead you leave it alone, you don't touch, and you move on. You don't pick it up and swing it around just because you can.

In the grand scheme of things, this is way far below my absolute horror at some of my other experiences in disillusionment. This commercial rates that mild sort of annoying feeling that baseball fans probably get when they think about McGwire and steroids.

Part of being an adult, I guess, is finding out that there is really no end to the series of disappointments you'll discover in regards to the ideological high-hopes you established during your formative years. The trauma might come from finding out that was Dad in the Santa suit, it might be that you realize your vote really doesn't count, it might be that the crazy rock band from your youth is now buying sports cars with proceeds from a dumb commercial.

No comments: