June 12, 2015 - Marketts' "Ho-Dads" Are Back for Cricket, Rascals' "Beautiful Morning" Gets UnREAL
"Here Comes the Ho-Dads," a non-hit 1962 instrumental by The Marketts, has become one of 2015's recognizable background tunes. First it popped up in Inherent Vice, director Paul Thomas Anderson's crazy crime film containing bits and pieces of dozens of pop hits and lesser-known pleasures; now the "Ho-Dads" are back in a TV spot for Cricket Wireless. The Lifetime network's new series UnREAL, a sendup of reality dating shows (specifically skewering the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise), has given a dubious tone to "A Beautiful Morning," the 1968 hit by The Rascals, in a recent 30-second promo.
June 2, 2015 - Marvelows Sell Appliances, Tomorrowland, Sunshine Superman and Hannibal Rejuvenate Classic Tracks
"I Do," the joyously gospelesque 1965 hit by The Marvelows, is getting regular background play for Samsung home appliances on several commercials starring Kristen "Veronica Mars" Bell and real-life spouse Dax "Parenthood" Shepard. Here's hoping they'll do an installment with the song advancing to the foreground while Kristen and Dax show off some serious living-space dance moves!
In theaters: Brad Bird's Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney, includes the themes for two Disneyland attractions. "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow," performed by country singer and Disney documentary narrator Rex Allen, and "It's a Small World" by The Disneyland Boys Choir, were originally written by brothers Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman and recorded for the 1964 New York World's Fair. Sunshine Superman, a documentary film about Carl Boenish, who popularized building- and cliff-jumping (informally called BASE jumping), includes a few classic rock songs on its soundtrack: "Wasn't Born to Follow" by The Byrds, "Something in the Air" by Thunderclap Newman and the obvious choice, Donovan's number one hit from 1966, "Sunshine Superman." On TV, "Happy Together" by The Turtles impacts pop culture yet again, this time to promote the third season of NBC's Hannibal, the series based on Thomas Harris's series of scary novels about cannibalistic killer Hannibal Lecter.
May 21, 2015 - Moore's Drifters Infiltrate TV, Pitch Perfect Reigns Supreme, Letterman Finale Jams James
So this cute kid comes out and lip-syncs for his family on a current Xfinity spot. My first reaction: that's Johnny Moore's voice! The song is "Come on Over to My Place" from 1965, one of The Drifters' lesser-known, but no less great, recordings. Hot at the box office: Pitch Perfect 2, starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, finds their all-female vocal ensemble tackling songs from seemingly every era (though it's mostly more recent material). One 1960s tune is prominently performed: The Supremes' '66 smash "You Can't Hurry Love."
David Letterman has wrapped up his 22-year run on CBS (total talk show career: 35 years!); the series finale had Paul Shaffer and the band typically at the top of their game and in a James Brown kind of mood (not unusual). Classic instro riffs from Godfather of Soul hits like "I'll Go Crazy" and "Cold Sweat" are always welcome. Shaffer's deep appreciation of rock, pop and rhythm and blues, and musical mastery in keeping the music timely and vital, will be sorely missed every late night from here on out.
May 7, 2015 - It's a Musically Retro Age of Aquarius, Adaline and Avengers with an Airplane Double-Dose
Promotional spots for Aquarius, NBC's upcoming late-'60s period crime drama starring David Duchovny, feature hits by Deep Purple ("Hush"), The Doors ("Love Me Two Times") and Jefferson Airplane with singer Grace Slick ("White Rabbit"). At the cineplex, Age of Adaline starring Blake Lively sprinkles its soundtrack with a nice variety of vintage tunes: The Skyliners' 1959 hit "Since I Don't Have You," jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon's late-'60s jam "The Rainbow People" and Jefferson Airplane's "Comin' Back to Me" with lead singer Marty Balin (both JA tracks are from their 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow).
Avengers: Age of Ultron, not surprisingly the number one movie at the box office, throws in bits and pieces of several classical movements including Maria Callas's 1954 recording of Vincenzo Bellini's "Casta Diva" from Act I of Norma; going further back, Dickie Jones (who was 12 years old in 1940), the voice of Pinocchio in the controversial-but-beloved Walt Disney film, can be heard singing "I've Got No Strings" in Marvel's all-star, blockbuster Avengers super-hero sequel.
April 25, 2015 - Dinah Washington's "Bitter" in True Story, Patti LaBelle's Fleet of Foot on Dancing
True Story, starring Jonah Hill and James Franco, is the first theatrical movie in months with '60s-era music. Dinah Washington continues to make a mark on the modern music scene with her number one R&B hit from 1960, "This Bitter Earth." The film also has updated versions of vintage tunes: "Sunny" (Bobby Hebb's 1966 hit), performed by Nigerian-German singer-actress Ayo, and Billy Bragg's rendition of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," first made popular by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1963.
It's a treat to see Patti LaBelle, well into her sixth decade in show biz, on this season's Dancing with the Stars. The 70-year-old singer and former leader of '60s girl group The Bluebelles, although voted off after five weeks, has performed admirably, showing off some difficult moves and gaining new fans along the way. Go, Patti!