Chas de Whalley
Clive Davis' recent complaint that there is no longer any room for
classic songs in today's music market may be true of R&B and Top 40
radio formats. But it's a different story in TV advertising where top
titles by some of pop's most perennial songwriting partnerships are
as much in demand as ever.
After 40 years in which Lennon and McCartney's songs were effectively
unavailable for syncs, Sony/ATV now fields regular enquiries for
titles from what is still the classiest of Sixties catalogues. Yet
the high cost of licensing the original Beatles recordings requires
music supervisors to go that extra mile when preparing new versions
fit for broadcast.
Thus both Platinum Rye and Stream report taking months auditioning
acts to record the semi-acoustic covers of Drive My Car and All
Together Now which are at the heart of respective Hugo Boss and
The former is by Supergrass spin-off Hot Rats and is available
through iTunes although it will not be included on Turn Ons, their
Nigel Godrich-produced album of covers due in January next year.
As yet there is no release date for the latter - which is by The
Hours who spent much of August promoting their second album See The
Light on the Is Good Ltd label by supporting U2 in Europe. Commercial
availability of their version of the Yellow Submarine- derived title
will rely on whether, and when, Budweiser decides to repeat the
current, Ireland-only, test-marketing campaign elsewhere.
Elsewhere the catalogues of other great co-composers continue to
attract advertisers. The joint P&P Songs/Universal-controlled Burt
Bacharach and Hal David and the husband and wife teams of Barry Mann
and Cynthia Weil (EMI) and Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent (Sony/ATV) can
be heard variously on commercials for Walkers Crisps (Raindrops Keep
Falling On My Head), the RAC (Close To You), Dreams Beds (It's
Getting Better), and Cesar Cat Food (I Couldn't Live Without Your Love).
Casting the historical net a little wider, a Special K clip featuring
Fallin', an unusually moody Top 20 hit in 1958 for Connie Francis
courtesy of Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, makes a welcome
re-appearance while Jimmy Reed's seminal blues standard Bright Lights
Big City, recorded in 1961 for Chicago's now defunct Vee Jay label
and controlled by Tristan Music, proves an inspired choice for Audi's
Economy Drive spot.
Unfortunately, the fashion, begun a few months back with the Oatibix
My Sharona clip, for butchering great songs with sub- karaoke quality
voiceovers has continued unabated. Peugeot's Bluetooth Duet version
of Sony/ATV's Suspicious Minds and a Hellmans' Dressings commercial
featuring the Isley Brothers' take on Seals and Crofts' Summer Breeze
- a joint Universal and International Music Group copyright - are two
more where great songs have received a real barbecuing.
But maybe the advertising sector can be forgiven some of its
irreverence since it continues to provide a valuable platform for
fledgling talent. Among the UK-based acts who have secured hopefully
career-building syncs over the past few weeks are new retro diva
Paloma Faith - whose debut single for Sony/Epic, Stone Cold Sober,
jointly controlled by Universal and Chrysalis, has received extra
promotion via a Rimmel London ad - and Just Jack whose January Top 20
single Embers has been very carefully filleted and reworked for an
instrumental section to support a campaign promoting Sky TV's
coverage of the new Premier League football season.