Boomers See Lighting Striking Again (and Again and Again!)

It continues to happen. Mister Boomer has chronicled the abduction of boomer-era music by the powers-that-be in the world of TV commercial advertising for several years, and now here is a fresh batch. Mister Boomer has spotted these in the past couple of months:

Born To Be Wild, Steppenwolf (1968)
There are no babies on motorcycles, but the song is utilized to sell Pampers diapers. Really? Why not Depends?

My Way (written by Paul Anka in 1967), made famous by Frank Sinatra, (1969)
Performed by some unknown musicians in a Verizon ad, we can thank our lucky stars they had the wherewithal not to use either the Frank Sinatra or The Sex Pistols version (1978). Even though it came to be known as Sinatra’s signature song, his daughter, Nancy, said he hated it. The song was also recorded by Anka himself (1969) as well as Elvis (1977) and a host of others. One interesting tidbit is, the song is the most requested song to play at funerals in the United Kingdom.

You Don’t Know What’s It’s Like, The Bee Gees (1966)
In a Facebook Groups ad about fathers and daughters the song tries to evoke that lovin’ feelin’ between a father and daughter, but don’t they listen to lyrics? This song is about romantic love, not paternal warm and fuzzies, man! Facebook Groups is on a roll, using other songs from our era as well.

I Think We’re Alone Now, Tommy James and the Shondells (1967)
An HP computer ad is using the song to advertise its camera-blocking software. The song wasn’t about technological peeping toms, bro. That beating-heart drum now takes on a very creepy tone.

Turn Around, Look At Me, The Lettermen (1962)
Written by Jerry Capehart, the song was Glen Campbell’s first to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 (at #62) in 1961. The Letterman’s version a year later hit number five. It was also recorded by The Bee Gees in 1964, which failed to chart, and The Vogues in 1968, which peaked at number three on the Adult Contemporary chart.

You Got It, Roy Orbison (1989)
OK, the song was released well beyond the boomer era, but come on — it’s Roy Orbison for Pete’s sake, and it was released shortly after his death. Figuring prominently in a Stop ‘n Shop commercial (a northeast supermarket chain with over 400 stores), strains of “anything you want” in a supermarket hardly seems the best way to celebrate the talent of a legend.

In the Midnight Hour, Wilson Pickett (1966)
Party City is using this one, but should we give them a pass since it’s a Halloween ad? Hmmm. The song was selected for historic preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2017. Now it’s selling costumes and party goods. They’ve used Michael Jackson’s Thriller in the past, too.

As if these weren’t bad enough, the merry marketeers have now officially crossed a line in Mister Boomer’s eyes. Celebrity Cruise Lines somehow got the rights to use White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane (1967)! Mister Boomer’s jaw dropped the first time he saw it. How dare they take an iconic anthem of the Psychedelic Era and reduce it to background fodder to a red-head’s (what’s up with that?) Alice-In-Wonderland fantasy aboard a cruise ship! The song does in fact reference Alice-In-Wonderland — but it is about drugs, man! Who writes these commercials now, anyway? Are they Gen Xers? Millennials? Have they no sense of history, let alone no sense of shame? Besides, in Mister Boomer’s humble opinion, Grace Slick is the premier rock singer of all time, and the Surrealistic Pillow album is on his Top 10 list. She could sing the phone book (if there still was one) and Mister B would listen. But geez, Beav, what have they done to my song?

What do you think, boomers? Does this latest salvo amount to unforgivable boomer-culture appropriation or Ob-La-Dee, Ob-La-Da, life goes on?

Boomers Watch the Commercial Beat Go On

Well, it’s happening again, not that it ever stopped. Lately, there has been a rash of commercials using boomer music in them. Even locally, an area hospital is using Brenda Lee’s version of Baby Face (1959) to advertise their pediatric surgery department, and a regional supermarket chain has enlisted Roy Orbison’s You Got It (1989). Mister Boomer still isn’t sure how he feels about this particular form of cultural appropriation, and has written about this before (see Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma and Boomer Music: Here, There and Everywhere).

Yet with this latest batch, Mister B has to wonder … wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder. Why. Wha-wha-wha-wha-why? It seems plausible that commercials are now written by Gen Xers and Millennials for Gen Xers and Millennials, yet they choose to use boomer music rather than tunes from their own eras. This latest batch though, has a new out-of-the-ordinary twist in that the pairings of song to product seems to lean to more than a little bizarre. Take a look at some recent song usage that Mister B has seen in his area:

Born to Be Wild, Steppenwolf (1968)
Was the song used for motorcycle insurance? Hair curl control? Or maybe … nope. How about Pampers diapers for babies? Now Fire all of your guns at once/ And explode into space has a whole new meaning.

Summertime, The Jamies (1958, re-released in 1962)
Mister B has to admit that McDonald’s has employed this summery ditty in a fun way. Pointing out the challenges of summer such as sunburn and bug bites, the commercial offers a McDonald’s meal as an something easy for summer, all to the strains of Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum-Summertime …

Summer In the City, The Lovin’ Spoonful (1966)
The ironic twist in this BMW car commercial is that the song says summer in the city, but the people driving are in the great expanse of the southwest. Try getting your neck burnt and gritty in a modern air-conditioned car.

To Love Somebody, The Bee Gees (1967)
Another odd paring, The Bee Gees are singing out for Facebook Groups. Yup, the venerable social media giant is advertising on TV, and using a Bee Gees tune to do it. The commercial tugs at the heartstrings, showing a father/daughter group heading to a baseball game. Mister B has to wonder whether the idea was generated by one of Facebook’s artificial intelligence engines.

I Think We’re Alone Now, Tommy James and the Shondells (1967)
HP computers is using the Tommy James tune with a nudge and a wink-wink. The crux of the commercial is a new feature on the computer that locks out the camera, barring any possible hacking. The premise is, this lock out is so no one will see you when you are doing the eccentric things you do when no one is looking — like toe nail clipping or posing in front of a mirror. Tommy James, however, isn’t singing about that at all.

This begs the question of why stop there? Certainly more strange pairings are ripe for the taking. Mister Boomer has some advice for companies looking to utilize boomer music:

• Hey Viagara and Cialis, ever think about acquiring Eight Days a Week by the Beatles (1964)? Can’t get the rights? There is always Me and My Arrow by Harry Nilsson (1970).

• Bathfitters, you are aiming your product primarily at homeowner boomers, so how about appropriating a song boomers have misheard for years anyway? Credence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising (1969) has been heard by millions to be, There’s a bathroom on the right. Throw enough money into it and maybe you can get John Fogerty to do a cameo.

• Is Robert Wagner still hawking reverse mortgages? Drop in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Our House (1970) for a lead-in and fade-out for that instant boomer connection. Not to your liking? How about Barry Strong’s Money (That’s What I Want) from 1959?

What songs have you heard in commercials lately, boomers? Any suggestions of likely or unlikely pairings you’d like to add?