After a week of that confounded “1, 2, 3, 4” Feist song ringing in my head, I’ve got to say something. I know it’s now commonplace for indie bands to shop their catchy singles to corporate advertisers, but I just can’t take it anymore. You’ve probably been bobbing your head to the same tune since Apple’s new iPod Nano commercial (below) recently began its heavy TV rotation.
If I wasn’t already familiar with Leslie Feist and her “Mushaboom” fame, I might’ve mistaken the smooth-tenor vox for Chan Marshall (Cat Power), who seems to be the indie queen of commercial crossover this year. Marshall has helped sell diamonds by covering Cat Stevens’ “How Can I Tell You” and lent Cingular her cover of Blondie’s “Hanging On The Telephone,” which oddly enough is actually a cover of a cover because Blondie ripped it from the Nerves.
But Marshall and Feist are not trailblazers. Since the advent of Pump Audio,which acts as a digital agent connecting thousands of indie bands withmainstream media, under-the-radar songs have been popping up on TV at arapid rate. I remember when I was jamming to Spoon’s “I Turn My CameraOn,” only to have a friend say, “Hey, that’s the song from the newJaguar commercial.” Or when Of Montreal rewrote its lyrics forOutback Steakhouse. Or when, earlier this year, Volkswagen licensed Wilco’s enitrealbum, Sky Blue Sky, (apparently an advertising first) for its 2007 ad campaign. PopWatch’s own Greg Kirschling blogged aboutthe phenomenon back in July, saying that watching the ubiquitous VW ads over and over caused him to reevaluate Sky Blue Sky: “I started tolike the new Wilco album a whole lot more than I thought I did.” Gregwondered if maybe hearing an old song in a new pop-culture context isn’ta good thing.
I myself prefer creating my own sense-memories for a song:what the season was, what year I heard it, what was going on in my lifeat the time, whether I was in a car or on the subway or at afront-porch house party. I don’t like the idea of songs evoking cars or cell phones or baby back ribs. Do you?