March 28, 2012 - Bobby Day for JCP, "Whole Lotta Love" from AI
The '50s and '60s are better represented than usual this week! Elise Testone performed the only song from the 1960s on American Idol, Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love"...and she rocked it, a rare female equivalent to Robert Plant. Former Idol runner-up Clay Aiken led a party singalong of The Drifters' classic "Under the Boardwalk" on The Apprentice, followed a night later by a battle round on The Voice with a unique country/hiphop mashup of The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" between The Line and battle victor Moses Stone.
One original '50s smash, "Rockin' Robin" by Bobby Day, is getting current exposure on a commercial for JC Penney (identified as JCP in the ads), while Chordettes chestnut "Mr. Sandman," via Kia, continues in the heavy rotation it began on Super Bowl Sunday.
March 14, 2012 - Idol Soulful with Shades of Otis and Percy
American Idol is closing in on the top ten finalists, finally giving some '60s love...and that was no mean feat, as each of the week's eleven performed a song from their birth year, putting potential selections somewhere between 1982 and 1996. Still, a couple of great vintage tunes sneaked in thanks to the remakes that were released during those later years. Phil Phillips gave us his rock take on Otis Redding's 1968 hit "Hard to Handle" (remade by The Black Crowes in '91). I'm sure we're all hoping they'll find an excuse in the coming weeks to have him sing "Sea of Love," the 1959 hit by the "original" Phil Phillips!!! Joshua Ledet came up near show's end with one of AI's all-time roof-raising performances, the 1966 Percy Sledge classic "When a Man Loves a Woman," putting the version-in-the-middle by Michael Bolton out to pasture. Idol is rolling now. More to come.
January 30, 2012 - "Secret Agents" and a "Sandman" Super Bowl
"Mr. Sandman," the 1954 chart-topper by The Chordettes, continues to embed itself into the pop culture consciousness. Kia is running a short spot with supermodel Adriana Lima and the message "See you on Sunday," most likely referring to a new commercial they'll be premiering during Super Bowl XLVI. Question is, will it be tied in to the ever-mysterious "Mr. S." in any way?
This season on the over-the-top FX animated series Archer, a hot 1966 B side is getting exposure, Nancy Sinatra's "The Last of the Secret Agents." Spy movie music rules, and FX knows it!
January 3, 2012 - Holiday Movie Wrap-Up: Oldies in Short Supply
The music of the '50s and '60s has had more exposure of late on TV than in theaters. Academy Award frontrunners Hugo and The Artist, with their 1920s-'30s settings, each feature a few classical and/or jazz selections, but mid-century music is conspicuously absent from most current films. Family-friendly animation and live action offerings are sticking with original scores and recent hit songs. Just three current films include rock era oldies, yet there's no rock and roll to be found! My Week With Marilyn offers the most examples, among them Dean Martin's chart-topping 1955 hit "Memories Are Made of This" and Nat "King" Cole's "You Stepped Out of a Dream," in addition to several songs connected to Marilyn Monroe including "Heat Wave" and "That Old Black Magic," performed by the film's star Michelle Williams doing an uncannily accurate Marilyn impression. The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, includes "Shall We Dance?" by Marni Nixon (vocalizing for star Deborah Kerr) from the 1956 award winner The King and I. Howlin' Wolf pops up in Shame, starring Michael Fassbender, with the 1956 love shout "You Can't Be Beat," straight off the flip side of the Wolf's classic hit "Smoke Stack Lightning."