February 7, 2015 - A Nefarious Super Bowl Question: "Do You Love Me"..."Little Demon"?
Overall, this year's Super Bowl ads had a more contemporary feel than usual. Exceptions: Janelle Monáe danced to The Contours' 1962 Motown smash "Do You Love Me" in the latest in a long line of colorful, musical Pepsi commercials. The most surprising turn came late in the game on a spot for Fitbit Blaze (The Smart Fitness Watch) and its wonderfully wacko backing track, Screamin' Jay Hawkins' deranged "Little Demon," the original flip side of his 1956 drunken-spree classic "I Put a Spell on You." Most of the other 40-plus ads featured on the year's top-rated television broadcast either sparingly made use of newer music...or had no music at all.
January 15, 2015 - TV Show Promos Use Who, Chambers and Turtles, Vintage Backing Tracks on Idol
Current and upcoming TV series are enhancing their on-air promotional spots with some interesting musical choices. NBC'S The Blacklist, ignoring any "Hands off The Who" intimidation from CBS's CSI, is using the band's 1965 hit "Anyway Anyhow Anywhere" to plug its latest episodes. A new CW show, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, which centers on adventure hero Rip Hunter (of the 1960s comic book series Rip Hunter...Time Master), is positioning itself with help from The Chambers Brothers' '68 psych-blast "Time Has Come Today." Later this month, NBC will premiere You, Me and the Apocalypse (the comedy show has been running in Britain since September); promo spots are airing with one overexposed song (The Turtles' "Happy Together") and one really oddball pick (The 4 Seasons, masquerading as The Wonder Who?, doing their Bizarro version of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice").
The first two weeks of American Idol's final season have been chock full of incidental oldies. Doris Troy's 1963 hit "Just One Look" was played, possibly because it jogged the memories of AI staff when it popped up in a recent Diet Pepsi commercial. No theory on why The Spencer Davis Group's "Keep on Running" came up...glad it did! Ernie K-Doe factored into an episode that had an abundance of talented female vocalists...so of course they couldn't resist slipping in K-Doe's "Here Come the Girls"! Fairly obscure when released over 45 years ago, more recently it's become a retro "buzz" track. "The House of the Rising Son," an ages-old folk song best known as The Animals' biggest hit, has already garnered positive results for a few auditioning Idol hopefuls. One more: Eva Gabor, baby...Green Acres! Figures a big-city talent competition would fixate on the rural sitcom theme during its stop in Little Rock, Arkansas.
January 8, 2015 - J. Law's Joy Encompasses a Dozen Vintage Tunes
Each year at this time there seems to be one movie with a long and varied list of musical selections. Director David O. Russell's latest, Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper, utilizes no less than a dozen '50s/'60s recordings. The inclusion of jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan's 1964 hit "The Sidewinder" is the most welcome surprise. The soundtrack runs the gamut from Disney-related songs "When You Wish Upon a Star" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet off the 1957 album Dave Digs Disney and "Solamente Una Vez (You Belong To My Heart)" by Nat "King" Cole from 1962's Cole Español to late '60s rock cuts "I Feel Free" by Cream from the band's debut Fresh Cream, "Stray Cat Blues" from the The Rolling Stones' LP Beggars Banquet and Buffalo Springfield's "Expecting to Fly." Also in the film: "To Love Somebody" by The Bee Gees, "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley and "The Good Life" by Frank Sinatra and Count Basie from their 1964 collaboration It Might as Well Be Swing. More "King" Cole: Nat croons "A House With Love in It" and "Winter Wonderland." Another from the Christmas cache: "Sleigh Ride," one of The Ronettes' three contributions to Phil Spector's seasonal sensation A Christmas Gift For You.
A couple of tunes not used in Joy include The Temptations' chart-topping 1965 hit "My Girl," featured in Daddy's Home starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, and Vegas King Wayne Newton's signature song "Danke Schoen," currently found in housing crisis nightmare flick The Big Short.
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