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Commercial Music

I’ve found some really great musical gems from TV Commercials lately. Either I’m watching too much TV or the creators are not your father’s Mad Men. Here’s a few of my recent favorites:

Powerful Stuff, Sean Hayes – Subaru

Love, Matt White – McDonald’s McRib

Say Hey (I Love You), Michael Franti & Speerhead – Corona

Hey Soul Sister, Train – Samsung 3D TV

Morning Sun, Shayna Zaid & The Catch – Ford Edge

So, does putting interesting and/or appealing music really sell more product? I say it doesn’t hurt and it prohibits me from turning the channel when I hear it come on…so it is certainly creating awareness for these advertisers. And in the advertising business, that is key. Plus, it gives exposure to new artists that might not ever be “discovered”.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 21, 2011 in Emerging Artists, Marketing, soundtracks, TV

 

Modern Problem: “Alone” Time

THIS is why I LOVE Modern Family.

Familiar?

Leave a comment, PLEASE!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 18, 2011 in family, Funny, Modern Family, that's life, TV

 

Modern Family, Modern Funny

Absolutely the best show on TV, Modern Family continues to entertain me (no small task) each Wednesday at 9pm EST, 8pm CST on ABC.

Now, I used to be a huge situation comedy fan when I was younger, dedicated to M*A*S*H, Happy Days, Barney Miller, Maude, and Good Times. However, in my adult years, not even Seinfeld held my attention for long — until Modern Family.

A serious LOL for the 21st Century, Modern Family centers around three families in the larger context of one family. The conventional unconventionalness of the family dynamic among the families is what really makes this show so appealing. Everyone can find themselves somewhere in the Modern Family.

Here’s a family tree of characters (click for larger picture):

If I had to choose just one favorite character, it would have to be Cam (actor Eric Stonetreet). The flamboyant yet tough former football player partner of Mitchell (actor Jesse-Tyler Ferguson). Together, they adopted Asian baby, Lily.

While I actually love ALL the characters in this show, my next favorite would have to be Manny (actor Rico Rodriguez). The young, latin impresario is the son of Gloria (actress Sofia Vergara) who is the young, Columbian wife of Jay (actor Ed O’Neill a/k/a Al Bundy), who happens to be Mitchell’s father.

And, then, there’s the Dunphys. Perhaps the most traditional family among the group, with a Mom, a Dad, and three kids who are all their’s together. Father Phil (actor Ty Burrell) and mother Claire (actress Julie Bowen) tackle everyday issues with their teenage/pre-teen daughters and young son with humor, love and a little neuroticness. Claire is Mitchell’s sister and Jay’s daughter — hence, the family connection.

The writing on this is show is brilliant. Christopher Lloyd, Steve Levitan and their talented staff of scribes no doubt pull from their own family and life experiences which is likely what makes the show and characters so identifiable. They delve into sometimes dark places like OCDness, prejudice, fears and phobias, etc. but do it with authenticity and self-depreciating wit.

Each week, I look forward to see where the Modern Family will go. Currently, it’s right to the top of the ratings. Well done, Modern Family, well done.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on January 13, 2011 in family, Funny, Good Stuff, Modern Family, TV

 

The Demise of American Idol

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It’s official.

Paula Abdul has confirmed that she will not be returning to judge American Idol Season 9.  Just another nail in the coffin, folks.  As I have extolled over the last few years, AI has been jumping the shark since that magic season when the silver haired soul singer won.

I have been on record regarding idol madness and their obvious lack of creativity in keeping the franchise fresh and interesting.  The plethora of copy cat “talent shows” that have diluted Idol’s appeal, in combination with the producers’ hubris in maintaining the same old cheesy format have assisted in sounding the death knell of the reality show talisman.  It was fairly transparent that the addition of Kara Dioguardi as the “fourth” judge was but the first step in replacing the wacky, somewhat unreliable Paula Abdul.

However, what the producers fail to understand is that Paula is one of the things that makes Idol, Idol.  No more crying tirades, no more “just what is in the Coke cup”, no more Simon/Paula love/hate exchanges….definitely the ending of an era.  My prediction is that Idol will trudge through Season 9 with little of interest between the judges — much like the other three judge panels of American reality talent contests.  Ratings will continue to drop and limp into Season 10, which will be the last season. 

You heard it here, first, folks!

As for Paula, I’m figuring that she’ll continue to make money like she always has and is likely well set after her eight seasons on AI.  What I’m really hoping is that she’ll write a tell-all memoir of all the backstage shenanigins that we all know go on.  She just might be ditsy and pissed enough…

 

Here he comes….

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2009 in american idol, TV

 

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The Trust is Broken

1916 - 2009

1916 - 2009

This is the face I saw every day, growing up.  Next to my father, Walter Cronkite, was the most prevalent male role model in my life for the first 14 or 15 years.  Every night at 5:30pm, Walt would deliver the news while my Mother was cooking dinner.  Most nights, my much older brother and sister were off somewhere doing their teenager thing, leaving my Dad and I to take in the world happenings of the day.  My father was not an extremely demanding parent, but he did encourage us to read the newspaper and to watch the evening news so that we understood the issues of our time.  It’s something that has proven to be invaluable in work and life, in general.

I’m not sure why, but our daily newspaper always came in the afternoon.  My father usually picked up the paper when he returned from work, precisely at 5:05 pm (his nursery business was around the corner).  Then, he went straight to the den, kicked off his shoes, put his feet up on the stool, and cracked open the newspaper.  I’d enter after finishing homework, turn on the enormous RCA console TV and flip the big manual knob to Channel 10, which was CBS in our town, to catch the sports and weather from the local news.  You see, I was the remote control to switch between the four channels we had access to.  I had just the right wrist action to fly between 10 and 3, around to 7 with a short stop at 15.  It took a special talent and an understanding of the optimum UHF antenna position, but after years of practice I had it down pat.

At promptly 5:30 pm, the reliable and familiar “Good Evening” from the most trusted man in America.  He then would dispense whatever vile and unconscienable acts mankind was committing on each other that day.  While I know that every generation has absorbed “news” that is astonishing and unbelievable, growing up in the late ’60s and ’70s was an endless diet of war, pestilence and death.  I’m talking assassinations, riots, protests, war fronts, burning bodies, cracked heads, hateful words, corruption, lies, murder, and general mayhem.  In short, it was NOT the best of times.

But, there were also fantastic, new “discoveries”….the space program, microwaves, trans-atlantic Concorde flights, The Beatles, cassette tapes, and unleaded gas.  Both good and bad, Walter Cronkite brought it all to us, with integrity, honesty and wit.

Unlike the biased and entertainment focused news from the likes of Katie, Brian, and assorted cable “anchors”, Cronkite’s news was gospel.  And, while there may have been some manipulation of the news, most journalists were searching for the “story”, to right wrongs, to change the world.  It was a serious time for serious news and Mr. Cronkite let us know the happenings of the day with appropriate seriousness.  While I don’t long for the crazy, volatile times of those days, I do long for the time when there was at least a perception of truth and trust in the news of today.  In Cronkite’s passing, perhaps today’s media will undertake a little introspection into just how shallow and superficial their news has become.  In the 24/7, sensational reality news of the new millenium, “news” people have lost the ideals of true journalism that Cronkite so aptly displayed in his tenure over some of America’s darkest days.  It is a credit to Cronkite’s integrity that no-one really knew, until well after his retirement, that he was a Democrat.  It was a testament to his objectivity and commitment to impartiality.  With all of the accolades sure to follow his passing, those delivering the news would be wise to follow more of his example. 

When CBS forced Cronkite into retirement in 1981 to replace him with a younger, shinier Dan Rather, it subsequently sold its soul and eventually lost its hold on night time news.  Rather’s obvious left bias would be his undoing, leaving him woefully short of Cronkite’s legacy and class.

As a child of the ’70s, I tip my proverbial hat to Walter Cronkite on a career and life well lived.  Perhaps the most appropriate homage to the end of Uncle Walt’s personal broadcast are his own iconic words:

And, that’s the way it is….July 18th, 2009

Musically, the one song that kept coming to my mind is John Mayer’s Waiting on the World to Change…

…when they own the information, oh, they can bend it all they want…..

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 19, 2009 in John Mayer, memorials, the seventies, TV

 

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Another Example of Legacy

While I adored David Ryan Harris’ tribute, this one I’m a little skeptical on.

  I’ll Be There, State Farm Commercial

Watching TV last night, this commercial came on and I immediately thought about the inappropriateness of State Farm resurrecting this ad.  The description of the video says:

Since this ad first aired May 20, the songs lyrics have helped make a strong emotional connection with people. This Jackson Five song is just one example of Michael Jacksons impact and legacy as a pop culture icon. Our condolences to the Michael Jackson family and fans.

 

That’s convenient, but I don’t recall seeing this ad more that once or twice in the last month or so, so I don’t think it was as compelling as State Farm likes to make out.  Nothing had made them look good in recent months where they have increased the hurricane deductibles to 5% of total coverage and have flat out stopped coverage for some areas.

But I digress…

I could be totally off base, but I think that this is using the hype of this superstar’s death to hawk your product.  The commercial did not have a “tribute” to MJ attached or a condolence, it simply was a commercial using a highly identifiable Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 song to get the viewers attention.  All about taking advantage of the moment, ignoring the respect and dignity of the person.  Unfortunately, it’s the dark side of legacy.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on June 27, 2009 in Marketing, rant, TV, Uncategorized

 

Jon MINUS Kate = 8 Messed Up Kids

Dysfunction at its finest

Dysfunction at its finest

Jon and Kate Gosselin are divorcing.  Quelle surpris!?!

Having intimate experience with divorce, I try not to be judgmental about anyone who finds that they simply cannot make their relationship work any longer.  However, in this case, I must make an exception.

These two are the most self-absorbed, neurotic pair I have ever seen and it’s incredulous to me that they continually whine about the intrusive paparazzi who are causing them so much stress.  Have they not welcomed cameras into their homes and lives to “share” their wonderful, fairytale lives?  It’s a slippery slope, peeps, and you guys let Pandora out of the box when you signed on for all those episodes and all that denero.  And, isn’t this really what it’s all about?  Money?

Sorry, but I have a real problem with the fact that these two have made a fortune off of the cuteness of their kids via TV, books, motivational speaking tours and “freebies”.  While I can understand accepting help from people wanting to help when you are overwhelmed with such a large brood, these people took it to the extreme and now, they are paying the piper.

The problem is that it’s the kids who will pay the cost.  While they will remain in their million dollar estate with designer clothes, playhouses and part-time parents, all they really have are each other.  Make no mistake, this “decision” will have lasting consequences on these kids.  Mady already needed couseling before all of this, now Kate will have to publish another hypocritical book just to cover the therapy bills for the rest of the gang.  Or, perhaps she can get a sympathetic psychologist to donate their services a la her tummy tuck and his hair plugs.  (You cannot make this crap up.)

The problem with sanctimony and rigidity is that it usually bites you in the butt.  Early on, Jon and Kate espoused that their faith was what sustained them and their kids.  Each season has brought less thankfulness/faithfulness and more entitlement/riches.  For example, trips to Disney, New York, Hawaii, Utah, North Carolina….two new houses in five years, matching designer clothes (even for every day), etc., etc.  While these people started out as an inspiration to others facing the challenge of large families, they have now become the object of pity and all at the hand of greed.

My advice to these “parents”.  Quit this show.  Jon, get a real job and hold on to it.  Kate, go back to nursing and support your kids like normal people and not by exploiting their obvious cuteness and unusual situation.  Spend time with them instead of traveling on book tours or speaking engagements.  All of the “things” are not going to ease the pain of seeing their parents’ relationship dissolve, nor the public fascination associated with it.  And really, do you think that people will be interested in seeing eight kids go through puberty?

Forget about the money, for once…

  Money, Pink Floyd

 
6 Comments

Posted by on June 23, 2009 in random crap, TV

 

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Music Maven’s Grammy Rundown

grammy1

Admittedly, The Grammys do not thrill me.  Unfortunately, moguls like Clive Davis’ seeming influence into the awards over the last few years leaves me very skeptical as to the nominations and the winners.

I mean, WHERE is Amos Lee?  Ray LaMontagne? 

However, in the spirit of Music comraderie, I made my own Grammy picks.  Personally, I think that they could cut out 2/3 of the categories and cut this puppy down to a half-hour show….but, whatever.  Here are the 2009 Music Maven Grammy picks.

Record of the year

  Please Read the Letter, Alison Krauss & Robert Plant

Mainly because Coldplay’s Viva La Vida is so over-played.

Album of the Year

Because of their revolutionary, “name your price” sales strategy….

  In Rainbows, Radiohead — Videotape track

Song of the Year

Only one choice for me…loved her from the start.  Remember, she debuted her 12-song DC (rather than CD) for $6.99 on iTunes.

  Love Song, Sara Bareilles

Best New Artist

For her ’60s vibe….

  Mercy, Duffy

If Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl wins anythings, I will never turn on a radio again.

In the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance category, I’m seriously torn between James Taylor’s Witchita Lineman and John Mayer’s thoroughly emotional Say, from The Bucket List.   However, I’m going to have to go with Sweet Baby James on this one.  The Glen Campbell kun-NECK-shun is just too strong.  The best song lyric of all time:

…and I want you more than need you, and I want you for all time.

‘Nuff said.

  Witchita Lineman, James Taylor

(Besides, Say wins a MM Grammy in another category — see below.)

Which, given the choices, leads me to Best Pop Album — JT’s Covers.  I was convinced by Seminole Wind and Not Fade Away.

I was intrigued by the nominations within the Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance (who comes up with these categories?) pitting Sir Paul McCartney’s Amoeba Record performance I Saw Her Standing There against John Mayer’s Gravity performance from Where the Light Is.  While I have great affinity for McCartney, the Where the Light Is video is superb and Gravity is one of my all-time favorite songs.  Therefore, the award goes to….

  Gravity, John Mayer

The only performance in the R&B categories that I feel is worry of any award is Wayne Brady’s Change is Gonna Come.  Yes, Wayne Brady of Who’s Line is it, Anyway? fame.

  A Change Gonna Come, Wayne Brady

However, I’d like to see Jennifer Hudson win a Grammy, just because she is that good and she deserves it.  Note:  she is the only American Idol alum nominated this year.

In the Country categories, only two nominations piqued my interest.  Brad Paisley’s nomination for Letter to Me in the Best Country Song category and The Del McCoury Band’s nomination for Best Bluegrass AlbumLive at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.  Love me some Del…

  Nashville Cats, Del McCoury Band

John Mayer’s Say is a lock for the Best Song Written for a Motion Picture.  I love this song, music & lyrics.

  Say, from The Bucket List, John Mayer

Miscellaneous Other favorites:

Best Traditional Gospel Album, Down in New Orleans, The Blind Boys of Alabama

Best Traditional Blues Album, Pinetop Perkins & Friends, 95 year old Pinetop Perkins, with a line-up of Blues royalty.

Best Contemporary Blues Album — THREE New Orleans acts; Dr. John, Irma Thomas and Marcia Ball.  Can they simply split a Grammy?

And, finally the BIG category….Best Zydeco or Cajun Album….drum roll please……

Music Maven picks……

  Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys

 

 

 

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Super Bowl Ad Review

I anticipate the Super Bowl each year, mostly to see what creative ads Madison Avenue will come up with.  It’s evident that there has been budget cuts and lay-offs as, on the whole, the Super Bowl ads, um…lacked.

My favorite of the night was actually NBC’s promo for their Monday night line-up.

  Feelin’ Alright

I was mildly entertained by the Potato Head/Bridgestone ad:

….and Pepsi’s Forever Young ad…

  Bob Dylan = will.i.am?  Really?

I have to admit that this generation’s William Shatner, Alec Baldwin is scrumptuous in this Hulu ad:

  TV Only Softens the Brain

However, job worries and satisfaction seemed to have been the ones that hit home the hardest this year:

  Bud Light Budget

  Crystal Ball

  If You Hate Going to Work

  The Other End

The Miller High Life delivery guys sums up the whole ridiculous Super Bowl advertising thing…

 
5 Comments

Posted by on February 2, 2009 in Marketing, TV, work

 

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Variety is the Spice of Life

A couple of years ago when my buddies, Huck and Shrew, separately suggested that Taylor Hicks would be best served in a variety-type TV show, I was somewhat skeptical. 

Really?  Like the entertainment pablum of my ’60s & ’70s youth?  Could our cynical and jaded society grasp and actually appreciate this vintage concept, complete with special guest stars, comical skits and of course, musical performances?  I mean, would these really go over with folks today?

  Donny & Marie, with guest Milton Berle

  Sonny & Cher Show, VAMP

  Flip Wilson, with guest Muhammad Ali

  Tony Orlando & Dawn

However, after contemplating a bit, I remembered that while those good, old variety hour programs provided slapstick humor and comedic skits, there were also ALOT of great musical performances — like these little gems I came across:

  Blowin’ in the Wind, Glen Campbell with special guest, Stevie Wonder

  They Call the Wind Mariah, The Smothers Brothers

Then, as if to confirm my suspicions that today’s sophisticated TV viewer has no appetite for good, old variety fare, Rosie O’Donnell’s attempt at variety show resurrection lasted all of 42 seconds. 

So, imagine my surprise this morning when I see that one of my favorite artists of today, the one and only, Johnny Boy Mayer will have his own variety show on CBS.

Is this guy great, or what?!?

Is this guy great, or what?!?

As visionary as I might be on other topics, I just didn’t see this one coming.  However, I truly believe that he will be a hit and put Rosie to shame.  As it should be…

ROCK ON, JOHN!

John’s got a bit of previous experience, compliments of Dave Chappelle.  In, White People Dancing he shows that he can play a great straight man.  Can’t wait to see who his special guests will be….

B.B. King?

Eric Clapton?

Buddy Guy?

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 15, 2009 in John Mayer, TV

 

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