I am starting to wonder if it's no longer necessary to use common sense when choosing a soundtrack for an advertising campaign.
Several years ago, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines started running spots featuring Iggy Pop's paean to drugs and hedonism, "Lust for Life." Last month, I questioned the wisdom of using Don McLean's "American Pie" to sell Chevrolet cars: even if Chevy shortens the lyrics, the song is so well known and its chorus is a reminder of our mortality: "... singing this will be the day that I die / this will be the day that I die."
I saw another blatant example of poor judgment in advertising soundtracks last night on teevee. Two new spots for Gordon's Jewelers feature a peppy, chime-heavy wordless version of the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony."
Complimentary Spouse Britt Shirley and I caught the first ad last night, wedged between the a bunch of other ads. We were incredulous. We looked at each other, and looked back at the screen, certain that we had heard some sort of jingle that sounded sort of like "Bittersweet Symphony."
A few minutes later, another Gordon's Jewelers ad ran. The background music was clearly "Bittersweet Symphony," minus the words.
Why is "Bittersweet Symphony" so inappropriate for an advertisement? Here's a look at the opening lyrics:
'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life.
Try to make ends meet.
You're a slave to money then you die.
Nihilism is hardly the way to sell more earrings and tennis bracelets, is it?
I suppose what bothers me most that "Bittersweet Symphony" -- like "Lust for Life," in the case of Royal Caribbean" -- was chosen for how it sounds, and not for what it says.
I can't imagine how much money the Verve received for licensing their song to a jewelry store. They may think they're slaves to money, but they're laughing all the way to the bank.