The theme music used by American retailer Wal-Mart to promote holiday shopping (a.k.a. buying Christmas presents) has used that old holiday favorite “Back in Black” by the heavy metal band AC/DC. What does it have to do with layaway or anything other than a hope for an economic shift from red to black? Beats me. Talk about the misuse of art in the commercial arena.
In 1980 AC/DC released the song “Back in Black” as a tribute to the band’s recently deceased lead singer “Bon” Scott. The song “Hell’s Bells on the same album was also a tribute to the singer. The songs were released with the album five months after Scott’s death on the heels of their previous album “Highway to Hell.” Indeed.
If the use of a hard rock song can be perverted, then what of the misuse of a soulful ballad?
Yes, even one of my all-time favorite groups has sold out one of their best tunes. For some reason it made sense (I’m guessing to an unpaid intern) that Subway should use the great ballad “September” by Earth Wind & Fire to let people know they were once again selling sandwiches for around $5 in the month of September.
This was really the last straw. How could Maurice White and Phillip Bailey and the guys let their music be (m)aligned in such a way?
Nothing against Subway but shouldn’t the soulful ballads of such a great group be aligned with a more soulful menu? I’m not talking about just pinto beans and cornbread here.
This all makes me feel old and cranky, and that whoever the decision-makers are, just don’t get my music.
Back in my day, the song “Back in Black” was what I played on the way to a basketball game to get fired up after having a brief rest and mellowing moment listening to “Sailing” by Christopher Cross.
A line has been crossed.
Is it just me? Where did things go wrong? Will my children know the difference? Perhaps Paul Ryan could lead a task force to right such wrongs.
I’m wondering, even if we figured it out, if we could get the agencies on Madison Avenue to take heed? Or, are they all run by people who don’t know how to tie their shoes or boil water?
It makes about as much sense as a restaurant using the Eagles hit “There’s Gonna Be a Heartache tonight,” depending on their target demographic, unless E-harmony wanted to use it to let people know finding their new love will really hurt their soon-to-be exes.
Visine could use the old “I Can See Clearly (Now the Rain is Gone).
The Dallas Cowboys might rightly use Earth Wind & Fire’s “After The Love Is Gone” unless the Texas Rangers beat them to it.
The problem is nobody really knows what these songs mean because they don’t go to the trouble of actually listening to the words. So how could anyone really be sure their products match the music?
What is the world coming to?
Can we count on the metaphors of post-modern music to have meaning in today’s world? Especially when it comes to selling a meatball sandwich for 5 bucks?
Is it just me?
What are your best examples of songs misused in everyday life? Send your responses to “the alliance for the responsible use of music in marketing” c/o Is It Just Me? 410 W. Erwin, Tyler, Texas 75702 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Prizes will be awarded and may include iTunes gift cards for the responsible use of music.