September 26, 2013 - Throwback to the Early '50s: "I'm a Fool to Care" and "It Ain't the Meat" Make Unlikely Comebacks
"Whatever's comfortable": Les Paul and Mary Ford's hit 1954 recording of Ted Daffan's "I'm a Fool to Care" is the latest pop classic to gain fresh exposure through a TV spot for (of all things) a nice, stiff shot of Southern Comfort. Even more incredibly, The Swallows' notorious 1952 R&B mover "It Ain't the Meat" ("...it's the motion!") has been immodestly revived by Kelly Clarkson, on the premiere episode of the new CBS comedy series The Crazy Ones starring Robin Williams, as (of all things!) a potential jingle for McDonald's. Crazy indeed!
September 18, 2013 - "Viva" Old Navy and Elvis, Howlin' Wolf's "Lightning" Strikes Daily
"Come hit the fashion jackpot!" Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas" is on the tube in a 30 second commercial for Old Navy's "New Crew" sweatshirts. The spot features fun animated images of, among other things, a rabbit who seems somehow familiar and a lineup of retro Rockettes (as an aside, the actual Rockettes performed on the finale of NBC's America's Got Talent at Radio Music City Hall, which has been the home of the famous dance company since 1932).
Howlin' Wolf is into his third year of everyday TV exposure. Reported here in April 2011, an excerpt from his 1956 recording of "Smoke Stack Lightning" has been used in ads for Viagra since early that year. Thanks to the many repeated airings, the song is the media's most-heard oldie in homes across America. The Wolf lives on!
September 2, 2013 - Butler Delivers, Dinah Simultaneously Sends Shivers at the Cineplex and on the Small Screen
Lee Daniels' The Butler, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, is currently the top draw in theaters and boasts a creatively compelling selection of music. Dinah Washington steals the show in one of the film's key scenes with her 1962 recording of "I'll Close My Eyes." Also featured: Faye Adams' 1954 hit "Hurts Me to My Heart" and Dean Martin's "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" (first heard in 1960's star-studded Ocean's Eleven) along with soulful '60s treasures "Function at the Junction" by Shorty Long, "Tell Him" by Patti Drew and "Out of Sight" by James Brown.
Long live "The Queen of Media": Dinah Washington also impacts television with her 1963 rendition of the Lil Green-Big Bill Broonzy blues classic "Romance in the Dark," ever-so-softly applied to convey the "rich, aromatic" flavor of Guinness Beer in a current 30-second spot.
August 14, 2013 - Summer Movie Music Runs the Gamut: Sinatra, Jones, Canned Heat, Como, Dylan
A variety of vintage songs are getting play in several of this summer's top box office films...We're the Millers takes Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis on an allegedly comedic drug run to Mexico and features the 1953 Frank Sinatra classic "South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)." Turbo finds ambitious fast-driving cartoon snails leaving trails at the Indy 500; its mostly-hip hop soundtrack squeezes in "What's New Pussycat?" by Tom Jones. All-star action sequel Red 2 contains musical selections as diverse as "On the Road Again" by Canned Heat and "Papa Loves Mambo" by Perry Como. Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" figures prominently in 2 Guns starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg; a version by Devlin featuring Ed Sheeran (as "Watchtower") has been widely exposed in the promotional trailer.
July 17, 2013 - 20 Feet from Stardom Tells Backup Singers' Side, Conan Celebrates "Summertime" by Skewering Jamies Hit
The documentary film 20 Feet from Stardom, currently gaining word of mouth and strong box office in limited release, focuses on the music industry's backup singers with an impressive array of '60s and '70s music. Songs include "He's a Rebel" by The Crystals (with its now-famous lead vocal by Darlene Love) and Love's solo hit "A Fine Fine Boy," in addition to Merry Clayton's 1970 remake of The Rolling Stones' landmark "Gimme Shelter" of the previous year, which featured her backing vocals. Through clips and interviews, Love, Clayton and fellow skillful support singers Gloria Jones, The Raelets and Patti Austin, plus Lou Adler, Phil Spector, Ray Charles, Mick Jagger, Ike and Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder and many contemporary stars play a part in revealing the fascinating story of these unsung musical heroes.
Also in theaters: White House Down, starring Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum, features a nice variety of song selections including "Spanish Flea" by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and the Stones' "Street Fighting Man." No doubt the strangest of all current oldies flashbacks comes via the satellite dish with a cleverly-edited promo for Conan O'Brien's late night TBS talk show, using The Jamies' 1958 hit "Summertime, Summertime" in a delightfully schizophrenic way. Summer never seemed so weird!