There’s something happening in the world of entertainment where the lines of musical expression and promotion of products is becoming more and more blurred. (Some would argue that musical artistic expression is indelibly linked to the need to promote and sell a product) I noticed that the NCAA college basketball ad breaks were inundated with a plethora of advertisements utilising pop tunes amongst others a snatch of an Oasis song and a full blown ad featuring “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly)
Still I nearly fell over backwards in my rocking chair when who should pop up in a commercial break between segments on 60 minutes on CBS but Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison!
I’ve noticed recently that American TV is inundated with advertisements for what are essentially pills for all kinds of ailments (Some real, some manufactured: See Selling Sickness by Alan Cassels).
So perhaps it should have come as no surprise to see Kelly and Bruce filmed in concert singing an admittedly catchy tune and then interrupting the song to give a heads up on the benefit of Claritin-D an allergy medicine. Now I’m more used to Kelly Willis singing songs of heartbreak in that nasal twang so beloved of country artists. I always felt that Kelly Willis brought an element of honesty and forthrightness to the high gloss Nashville scene. Her CD’s are all recommended and while she has faded into the background in the last few years (mostly to devote time to family I presume) her “What I Deserve” CD is a high watermark in an extensive career.
A few minutes afterwards up popped another Allergy medicine ad this time for Zyrtec manufactured by Pfizer and a Diabetes ad and a Hip Replacement ad. Interesting demographics in the 60 minutes audience.
Bruce Robison has this to say on his website admittedly in the context of recording and marketing his CD’s on his own label.
“Artists shouldn’t have to sell their souls just to get studio time. That’s a broken model. There’s a better way out there and I’m interested in providing it.”
Well it looks like Kelly and Bruce have found a better way but if Claritin-D catches on will the entire Nashville music industry have to take a hard look at itself? When country artists no longer have that nasal twang then what? Will anybody recognize that latest hit song sung by their favorite artist when they no longer sound anything like they used to?
Let's hope Claritin-D doesn't catch on with your favorite indie rocker. Britt Daniel of Spoon anyone?