Living in a Material World
August 3, 2012
How I feel about this trend varies with its use. I don’t have a global
position on the issue as some people do. Many feel that, like the
never-ending procession of 80s movies remakes, any use of the 80s
musical canon for contemporary commercial purposes is a violation of all
that is right and good in the world. I’m a little more flexible than
that. In fact, you can even see it as the ultimate compliment to the
sticking power and awesomeness of 80s music.
However, I mind it a lot more when the song in question is one that I
love—one that is tied to a specific time and place and evokes a sense
memory so strong that I can almost feel the moment. These songs are
sacrosanct and having a new association with the song is wholly
unwelcome, particularly when it comes in the form of, say, a fast food
baked potato (see Wendy’s unacceptable use
of “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes). Even the
Violent Femmes didn't wholly think it was a great idea.
On the other hand, I don’t mind so much when it’s a song with no strong
personal attachment. So, I’m much less bothered by Target’s use of the
GoGo’s “We Got the
Beat” or Cameo’s “Word Up!”. I acknowledge the problem with this
approach—because my “Blister in the Sun” might very well be your ‘We Got
In our recent interview with Robbie Grey of Modern English, we asked about
his allowing Hershey (and others) to use “I Melt With You” for their commercials.
His answer made perfect sense and softens my opinion on the whole
It pays all my bills. When there’s been lean periods for Modern
English, that’s still been there as a constant, and it’s really helped
us to carry on really. At the moment, it’s in a Hershey bars advert on
There’s a lot of money involved in those things. As you know, music is
in trouble now. People don’t even buy CDs anymore, let alone records.
Bands find it really hard to make money off downloads. There’s no money
there for bands to have a living. The only way really, except if you’re
a massive band like U2 or something, the way we make a living is by
adverts and film soundtracks. That’s it really.
That’s been brilliant, because you can do so many things; Burger King
advert, you name it, and not just in America but all over the world.
That’s helped us carry on with making music, really.
We can all appreciate the need to pay the bills.
Here’s a list of just a few of the recent 80s-tuned crop of commercials.
- H&M – Girls on Film, Duran Duran
- Burger King – Walk of Life, Dire Straits
Staples – Just Can’t Get Enough, Depeche Mode
- Honda – The Hellion/Electric Eye, Judas Priest
- Tide – Pop Goes the World, Men Without Hats
Target – We Got the Beat, GoGos
- Target – Word Up!, Cameo
BMW – Dancing with Myself, Billy Idol
Mutual Insurance – Human, Human League
- Cape Cod Chips – I Ran, Flock of Seagulls
- Chevy – True, Spandau Ballet
Esurance – Situation, Yazoo
- Cisco Systems – Cars, Gary Numan
Golf – People Are People, Depeche Mode
What do you think? Good thing? Bad thing? What 80s song(s) do you consider
off limits? Join the conversation on our