Quick, recite the Preamble to the Constitution. . . Now without Googling them, name the books of the Old Testament in order. . . Okay, how far can you get in the periodic table of elements? Would an earworm help?
How did you do? Probably better than I. But I’ll bet all of us can ace the “Slinky Song.” Everyone 35 and older can probably sing the “My Buddy” jingle by heart. And do any of us even remember that “Like a Rock” actually played on the radio before it sold Chevy trucks?
Nowadays, a new pop or country song makes its way to a national commercial before it even hits the radio. Keeping up with today’s music is as easy as watching prime time television. What used to be considered a song’s last stop, its last chance for resuscitation, its performer’s walk of Shame, I Need the Money, is now its debu-taint ball, its informal presentation of new money to impolite society. (Don’t mind her, she’s just jealous.)
You’ve read the news, “It Takes an Earworm to Learn the Periodic Table.” Maybe a jingle is nothing more than a glorified earworm. But did you notice, the tune used as an aid to learn the periodic table is from The Pirates of Penzance? Gilbert and Sullivan – the team celebrated at any given Ivy League school – have been reduced to earworm status.
Want to learn the elements in order? Try using Offenbach’s can-can music “Infernal Galop.” He’s been reduced too.
To tell the truth, I have an affection and respect for good jingle writers. I tip my hat to the writer(s) of the Empire Today commercial jingle. When I have the funds together, not only will I be able to call for an estimate on replacing my floors without cracking open a phone book (yes, I have one) or waking up my computer, but I’ll be able to do it in three-part harmony. And you know what a sucker I am for harmony.
No sir, a glorified earworm a jingle is not. A good song is a good song. Whether or not you have any experience with roasting a chestnut over an open fire, when the great Nat King Cole sings the first line of that song you see the glow, you hear the crackle, you feel Christmas. Whether or not you’ve ever been to a cabaret, when you hear Offenbach’s “Can-Can” you see high kicks, petticoats, and perhaps the periodic table. And right or wrong, when I hear “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” I taste a cold Coke – from a bottle of course – and I feel hopeful that not only will that bottle be recycled, but maybe we will all metaphorically sing in harmony one day. And hey, if it turns out to be literal I won’t be disappointed.
Using art to sell stuff may be the world’s actual oldest profession. After all, it was the music of a piano player or player piano that first lured a customer to a brothel. (I’ll bet Offenbach’s music was featured there too.) Before pianos, they probably just whistled or banged rocks together. The bottom line is that a good product needs a good song. But a good song does not necessarily need the product.
This Christmas there are several jingles that I feel could stand alone – even without the product to which they’ve been attached.
GLADE: “Let There Be Peace on Earth”
This song by Kevin Ross is a beauty, as is his voice. Searching for it on iTunes after I’m done with this post. . .
Vistaprint: “I Just Wanted You to Know”
Here’s the full version of David Law’s song. The holidays do seem to be the perfect time to tell people how much they mean to you.
Big Lots: “Nailing This”
I don’t know who sings this but – you guessed it – she nails it! Just try to keep me from singing this into a hairbrush.
Walmart: “Christmas Cheer”
I’m all in for the “more carols … hugs … spirit … and joy” parts of this song.
Shutterfly: “Mail Myself to You”
No more “Dust Bowl Blues” for Woodie Guthrie’s family. Hearing this little girl sing his song probably makes them verklempt too.
– Anita, Noted in Nashville