March 18, 2016 - Shondells, Exciters, Frankie A. in Theaters, Patsy C., Booker T. by Antenna
On movie screens: Horror/suspense film 10 Cloverfield Lane ironically offsets its creepy atmosphere with oldies like "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tommy James and the Shondells, "Venus" by Frankie Avalon and "Tell Him" by The Exciters. On home screens: Patsy Cline's captivating "Back in Baby's Arms" is featured on a current spot for Mazda, while "Green Onions" by Booker T. and the MG's, playing on a commercial for Royal Canin dog and cat food, never fails to pop up in unlikely places...where will we hear it next?
March 6, 2016 - Top Movies of '16 Have Neil, Ray, Chordettes, Steppenwolf and Elvis, TV Ads Feature Brenda and the Stones
Deadpool, the year's biggest box office hit so far, has a music soundtrack that's all over the map, including some surprising selections in "Calendar Girl" by Neil Sedaka and "Hit the Road Jack" by Ray Charles, both from 1961, as well as "Mr. Sandman," the still-popular '54 standard by The Chordettes. The current number one movie, Disney's Zootopia, makes use of some vintage songs as well: "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf and two by the Big E, signature hit "Hound Dog" and the Junkie XL remix of "A Little Less Conversation."
Commercial endorsements on the not-so-small-anymore high definition screen come courtesy of eos Lip Balm, with a colorful "Share the Delight" ad that features a seldom-heard Brenda Lee hit from '61, "I'm Learning About Love," while The Rolling Stones' legendary smash "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" is part of a current spot for Hilton Hotels.
February 15, 2016 - Valentine Valiants, Grammy Tributes, Grace Channels Gore on Colbert
The week's biggest vintage music news: "This is the Nite," the 1958 hit by Los Angeles group The Valiants on Keen Records, played all week leading up to Valentine's Day on a commercial for Expedia (as in "This is the night? Then get a room!"). It's the previous week's hottest song simply because it traveled furthest to reach its peak of exposure.
CBS's broadcast of the Grammy Awards contained absolutely no evidence of 1950-through-1969 music until about two-and-a-half hours into the telecast when Lady Gaga's tribute to David Bowie kicked off with the opening bars of his 1973 hit "Space Oddity," which just happens to have been recorded and first released in 1969. Shortly afterwards, Bonnie Raitt announced rhythm and blues legend Ruth Brown as the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement award, then joined country-rock singer Chris Stapleton for "The Thrill is Gone" in tribute to blues superstar B.B. King. Later, additional Lifetime nods were noted for jazz master Herbie Hancock, San Francisco psych-rockers Jefferson Airplane, Latin star and seven-time Grammy winner Celia Cruz, who first came to prominence in the '50s, and the prolifically diverse Linda Ronstadt. Mark Ronson, who won the evening's final award, Record of the Year, for his collaboration with Bruno Mars, "Uptown Funk," said, "I see George Clinton over there, a man who has done more for the word funk than we could ever hope to dream of in our entire lives!" Clinton began his performing career in the mid-'60s with The Parliaments. Just for the record, George Clinton is funk...he's Mr. Funk! Dr. Funk! President Funk!
So...was it a coincidence Australian artist Grace appeared on Friday's installment of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert doing "You Don't Own Me" the same night Quincy Jones (who produced Lesley Gore's original hit version from 1964) was a guest on the show?
February 7, 2016 - A Nefarious Super Bowl Question: "Do You Love Me"..."Little Demon"?
Overall, this year's Super Bowl ads had a more contemporary feel than usual. Exceptions: Janelle Monáe danced to The Contours' 1962 Motown smash "Do You Love Me" in the latest in a long line of colorful, musical Pepsi commercials. The most surprising turn came late in the game on a spot for Fitbit Blaze (The Smart Fitness Watch) and its wonderfully wacko backing track, Screamin' Jay Hawkins' deranged "Little Demon," the original flip side of his 1956 drunken-spree classic "I Put a Spell on You." Most of the other 40-plus ads featured on the year's top-rated television broadcast either sparingly made use of newer music...or had no music at all.
January 15, 2016 - TV Show Promos Use Who, Chambers and Turtles, Vintage Backing Tracks on Idol
Current and upcoming TV series are enhancing their on-air promotional spots with some interesting musical choices. NBC'S The Blacklist, ignoring any "Hands off The Who" intimidation from CBS's CSI, is using the band's 1965 hit "Anyway Anyhow Anywhere" to plug its latest episodes. A new CW show, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, which centers on adventure hero Rip Hunter (of the 1960s comic book series Rip Hunter...Time Master), is positioning itself with help from The Chambers Brothers' '68 psych-blast "Time Has Come Today." Later this month, NBC will premiere You, Me and the Apocalypse (the comedy show has been running in Britain since September); promo spots are airing with one overexposed song (The Turtles' "Happy Together") and one really oddball pick (The 4 Seasons, masquerading as The Wonder Who?, doing their Bizarro version of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice").
The first two weeks of American Idol's final season have been chock full of incidental oldies. Doris Troy's 1963 hit "Just One Look" was played, possibly because it jogged the memories of AI staff when it popped up in a recent Diet Pepsi commercial. No theory on why The Spencer Davis Group's "Keep on Running" came up...glad it did! Ernie K-Doe factored into an episode that had an abundance of talented female vocalists...so of course they couldn't resist slipping in K-Doe's "Here Come the Girls"! Fairly obscure when released over 45 years ago, more recently it's become a retro "buzz" track. "The House of the Rising Son," an ages-old folk song best known as The Animals' biggest hit, has already garnered positive results for a few auditioning Idol hopefuls. One more: Eva Gabor, baby...Green Acres! Figures a big-city talent competition like American Idol would fixate on the rural sitcom theme during its stop in Little Rock, Arkansas.
January 8, 2016 - J. Law's Joy Encompasses a Dozen Vintage Tunes
Each year at this time there seems to be one movie with a long and varied list of musical selections. Director David O. Russell's latest, Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper, utilizes no less than a dozen '50s/'60s recordings. The inclusion of jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan's 1964 hit "The Sidewinder" is the most welcome surprise. The soundtrack runs the gamut from Disney-related songs "When You Wish Upon a Star" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet off the 1957 album Dave Digs Disney and "Solamente Una Vez (You Belong To My Heart)" by Nat "King" Cole from 1962's Cole Español to late '60s rock cuts "I Feel Free" by Cream from the band's debut Fresh Cream, "Stray Cat Blues" from the The Rolling Stones' LP Beggars Banquet and Buffalo Springfield's "Expecting to Fly." Also in the film: "To Love Somebody" by The Bee Gees, "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley and "The Good Life" by Frank Sinatra and Count Basie from their 1964 collaboration It Might as Well Be Swing. More "King" Cole: Nat croons "A House With Love in It" and "Winter Wonderland." Another from the Christmas cache: "Sleigh Ride," one of The Ronettes' three contributions to Phil Spector's seasonal sensation A Christmas Gift For You.
A couple of tunes not used in Joy include The Temptations' chart-topping 1965 hit "My Girl," featured in Daddy's Home starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, and Vegas King Wayne Newton's signature song "Danke Schoen," currently found in housing crisis nightmare flick The Big Short.