Way Back 2017

December 21, 2017 - Non-Holiday Hits in December: Cole, Flamingos, Belafonte, Who, Wood, Plus Chyvonne, "Ferd" and Missing Zombies

While Christmas songs (and various movements from Peter Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite") have more than their fair share of TV commercial saturation this season, there has also been an abundance of non-yuletide '50s and '60s songs getting airtime. "I'm Moving On," a long-hidden gem from 1963 by Chyvonne Scott, can be heard on a Samsung Galaxy ad. Estée Lauder has applied Nat "King" Cole's feelgood "L-O-V-E" to maximum advantage and "I Only Have Eyes For You" by The Flamingos has been tilting music-lovers' ears towards season two of Netflix award winner The Crown. Harry Belafonte's popular folk tune "Jump in the Line" ('...work, Señora!'), from his 1961 album Jump Up Calypso, sends a lively message for Ford Escape, Walmart skips the seasonal sounds on one spot in favor of "My Generation" by The Who and Lyft gives a lift to Brenton Wood's 1967 hit "The Oogum Boogum Song."

The creators of Ice Age are back with the bull: the Ferdinand movie (based on Disney's Oscar-winning 1938 cartoon) took a mindless-but-classic idea for a promotional spot: "Ferd is the Word," a variation on "Surfin' Bird," the 1964 hit by The Trashmen (itself a salmagundi with The Rivingtons' hits "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" and "The Bird's the Word" as ingredients).

For a couple of months leading to the release of Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World, a trailer containing The Zombies' 1969 hit "Time of the Season" has been scheduled intermittently. But since Christopher Plummer replaced Kevin Spacey in the role of J. Paul Getty, it seems the Zombies have taken a sharp object to the skull as the ads have deleted them as well.

December 6, 2017 - New Streaming Series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Covers a Multitude of Musical Bases

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a comedy series starring Rachel Brosnahan as Midge, the '50s housewife-turned-standup comic of the title, has recently premiered on Amazon Prime with eight episodes so jam-packed with pop songs it gives Baby Driver, this past summer's cinematic getaway-car melee set to nonstop pop and rock cuts, serious competition for "most music selections" bragging rights. Here are just a few...okay, closer to a few dozen...recordings featured on the show's soundtrack, though there are many others dating both earlier and later. 1950s pop hits include "Nevertheless (I'm in Love With You)" by The Mills Brothers, "Papa Loves Mambo" by Perry Como, "Cry Me a River" by Julie London, "Fever" by Peggy Lee and Harry Belafonte's island novelty "Mama Look a Boo Boo," in addition to the number one hits "You Belong To Me" by Jo Stafford and "Hey There" by Rosemary Clooney.

Several other standards move the Mrs. Maisel plot forward. Two come from European prima donna Édith Piaf ("Comme Moi") and a young Petula Clark ("May Kway (Rose, Rose, I Love You)"). America's pop divas are represented by The McGuire Sisters ("Teach Me Tonight"), Dinah Washington ("I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart") and Ella Fitzgerald ("Isn't This a Lovely Day"). Classic jazz has claimed its instrumental piece of the pie with "Val's Pal" by The Art Pepper Quartet and "Oleo" by trumpet king Miles Davis. Then there's a harder-to-categorize piece of music: "The Typewriter," Leroy Anderson's unconventional "Pops" tune...played on a Remington (or is it an Underwood...or a Smith Corona?) by nimble-fingered showoff Liberace.

The series has also worked in a handful of rock and roll acts: Bill Haley and his Comets go "Crazy Man, Crazy," Ricky Nelson praises his "Be-Bop Baby," The Coasters yammer about that "Yakety Yak" and The Rock-A-Teens prolong 58 years of "Woo-Hoo" ululating. "Blue Christmas" has its moment (Elvis style, of course) and Paul Revere and the Raiders flash forward several years with "Hungry." Broadway musicals of the 1960s are acknowledged with "Ya Got Trouble" by Robert Preston from The Music Man and selections from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and The Roar Of The Greasepaint - The Smell Of The Crowd.

The creators of the show seem to favor certain singers. Two of Barbra Streisand's 1963 debut album tracks have been layered in so far: "Happy Days Are Here Again" and "Come to the Supermarket (In Old Peking)." There's a double dose of circa-1960 Yiddish recordings by The Barry Sisters, three jazz ditties by songbird Blossom Dearie and a trio of next-level '50s tunes by Frank Sinatra. Amazon has committed to a second season, so surely additions to Marvy Midge Maisel's melodious mix will be forthcoming.

November 16, 2017 - Food and Sports Ads Nab Sam, Dave, Comets and Irma, FX Airs Blenders, Three Billboards Gets Four Tops, Disney and Williams Indicate "Time"

Subway is spreading the word about its Reuben sandwich with commercials featuring "Wrap it Up," Sam and Dave's sweat-popping '68 flip side, and "Rock Around the Clock," Bill Haley and his Comets' mid-'50s paragon for pop culture change. NFL Network's NFL Gameday Morning is doing its part to return Irma Thomas to prominence by using "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is" (first heard on a 1964 Imperial 45, last featured in Moonlight) on its promos. FX's Better Things, starring Emmy nominee Pamela Adlon, tacked The Blenders' 1963 hit "Daughter" ('...you better leave those boys alone') onto the end of an episode about, appropriately, a boy-crazy teenage girl. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh's film starring Frances McDormand, pulled the 1968 Four Tops hit "Walk Away, Renee" off the "seldom heard" shelf of the Motown vault. Disney California Adventure Park gets TV's holiday rush rolling with the (not-then-but)-now-classic 1963 Andy Williams smile-facilitator "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." Christmas music will be flooding the airwaves momentarily.

October 31, 2017 - Tube's Got Bass, Charles, Youngbloods,
Dancin' Gene, Sedaka and Mathis, Handmaid's Tale Alters
Context of Classic Hits

Let's play catch-up on recent '50s and '60s standards detected on various television soundtracks: "Rescue Me," Fontella Bass's often-heard '65 soul fave can be found on promotional spots for 9-1-1, a new drama coming to Fox in January. Classic songs in commercials include "You Are My Sunshine" by Ray Charles for Humana, "Get Together" by The Youngbloods for Walmart and "Singin' in the Rain," as sung by Gene Kelly in the 1952 film musical of the same title, for Citi (or Citibank, if you prefer).

Neil Sedaka's "Calendar Girl" was designated for dancing on the previous episode of The Big Bang Theory. Seasonal gem "Sleigh Ride" by Johnny Mathis hasn't been presented in a creepy way until now; it was featured in (and supplied the title for) the final episode of the third season of Fear the Walking Dead. Finally, bingers of this year's top Emmy winner The Handmaid's Tale will pick up on a few pre-dystopian-depression hits: "Daydream Believer" by The Monkees in episode four, "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane in episode eight and a double dose of Nina Simone, "I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl" in the fifth installment and her 21st century smash first released in 1965, "Feeling Good," in episode ten. As offered in the context of the series' storyline, all will likely induce varying degrees of discomfort and/or anxiety not intended by the songwriters, musicians or singers.

October 19, 2017 - Day Weighs in for State Farm, Van Dyke Advocates for Subway, Blade Runner and Happy Death Day Ease Us into Film Thrills

Doris Day for State Farm Insurance: it's 1951 all over again as the TV-watching populace hums the Guys and Dolls showtune "A Bushel and a Peck." Like the song suggests, one bushel plus one peck is a lot of lovin' - ten gallons' worth!

Look no further than Leroy Van Dyke for an authentic imitation of a rapid-fire country "Auctioneer." You can hear Leroy's 1956 hit on Subway's spot for its "Fresh Value Meal." SOLD to the hungry-looking gentleman for $4.99!

On the futuristic big screen, the music of Blade Runner 2049 goes softer than your typical long-awaited 21st century sci-fi thriller sequel, with two great songs apiece by, arguably, the previous century's two greatest singers: Frank Sinatra ("Summer Wind," "One For My Baby (And One More For the Road)") and Elvis Presley ("Can't Help Falling in Love," "Suspicious Minds"). Campy horror/mystery Happy Death Day also makes unusual song selections: "Since I Don't Have You" by The Skyliners and a once-"lost" '60s Stax track from William Bell, "We Got Something Good."


My Generation Cry Me a River Crazy Man Crazy Be-Bop Baby Hungry Happy Days Are Here Again Rescue Me Calendar Girl Daydream Believer Hall of Fame Since I Don't Have You