Way Back 2020

March 11, 2020 - Hayley and the Troggs, Don and Juan, Marvin and Kim, Roy and the Traits Heard on Tube

If you believe what you see on TV, Taco Bell customers are viciously battling and destroying apartment interiors over the restaurant's yummy "nachos party pack." "Let's Get's Get Together," the 1961 hit by Disney girl Hayley Mills, plays while the melee unfolds. Meanwhile, Geico motorcycle insurance ads inflict the image of a well-tailored biker making not-so-smooth moves while lip-syncing The Troggs' 1966 chart-topper "Wild Thing."

'60s hits are back to being sonic scene enhancers on American idol; "What's Your Name" by Don and Juan accompanied a segment with an auditioner who'd apparently never heard of stars/judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. Singers auditioning as couples (that's against the show's rules, isn't it?) did so while "It Takes Two" by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston filled the background. "Treat Her Right" by Roy Head and the Traits worked its way into the episode as well.

February 27, 2020 - Lymon, Franklin and Martin Plus Brothers Righteous and Isley Enhance TV Viewing

Retro rhythms have taken over recent home screen commercials. Frankie Lymon's 1960 recording (the third charting version) of "Little Bitty Pretty One" on a Samsung spot has fleet-footed living room watchers wearing down the carpet, while Aretha Franklin livens up a Levi's ad with her thrilling "Think." H&R Block's yearly tax reminder puts its point across with "It's Your Thing" by The Isley Brothers. Taking a hard left, "Welcome to My World" by Dean Martin (a 1965 album cut and '67 B side) mashes generations in promoting the Apple Arcade game app, while the more famous 1964 version by Jim Reeves is featured in the season premiere of AMC's Better Call Saul. A couple of weeks back, The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" came up in a promo for ABC-TV's The Bachelor (recreating the romantic pottery scene from Ghost that revived the song's popularity almost 30 years ago), which featured a cameo appearance by Whoopi Goldberg, one of the film's stars (and a '91 Supporting Actress Oscar winner for her performance).

February 2, 2020 - Classic Super Bowl Soundtrack Stars: Standells, Four Tops, Ennio, Etta, Sonny, Cher and Wilbert Harrison

Computer technology, futuristic eateries, cowboy boogie-men, an exhilarated mother...and there's gotta be a groundhog in there someplace! They all had their moments in this year's Super Bowl commercials.

Hyundai Sonata's Smart Park ("smaht pahk!") feature was demonstrated by John Krasinski, Rachel Dratch and Chris Evans (laying on some thick Boston accents) while Red Sox slugger David Ortiz eavesdropped. A scene like this wouldn't be complete without one of Beantown's famous themes, "Dirty Water" by The Standells, to tie it together. Then there was an endorsement by the Four Tops: even at creepy-weird diners, restaurants, dining halls and food stands, just "Reach Out" and Heinz Tomato Ketchup will be there.

Ennio Morricone's theme from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" started off a dance showdown on an "Old Town Road" as Lil Nas X and Sam Elliott faced off while Billy Ray Cyrus lazily watched. The point of these nimble moves? Eat Doritos! T-Mobile is hyping its 5G service with Anthony Anderson and his mother, Doris Hancox, doing their mother-son routine to the beat of Etta James' 1967 hit "Tell Mama." Bill Murray, meanwhile, has been driving around in a Jeep Gladiator with his favorite groundhog while Sonny and Cher tunefully coo "I Got You Babe."

They didn't wait for the Chiefs to lock in K.C.'s first Super Bowl victory in 50 years to play the city's signature song. Wilbert Harrison's number one hit from 1959, "Kansas City," came up in the game while the 49ers were leading. It's tradition to play this song at Kansas City games, right? One way, perhaps, to create a little karma for the win.

January 26, 2020 - Grammy Awards Honor Life's Work of Roberta Flack, Isaac Hayes, Chicago and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Among Other Details

It wasn't the first time TV's Grammy Awards show waited more than two hours to make any historic music references. The first sign came when Ariana Grande prefaced "7 Rings" with several bars of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music (her hit version uses the music, but has rewritten lyrics). Late in the broadcast, Lifetime Achievement awards were acknowledged and went almost exclusively to artists who'd made their debuts prior to 1970: singer-pianist Roberta Flack, Stax songwriter-producer-singer Isaac Hayes, rock group Chicago and gospel-jazz singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe (who also slung a hot electric guitar, a rarity among female artists of her 1940s heyday).

Still later, a young-looking almost-80-year-old Smokey Robinson took the stage to the strains of "Tears of a Clown" (his chart-topping hit from 50 years ago with The Miracles), arm-in-arm with country quartet Little Big Town. Before presenting the Song of the Year award, all five treated viewers to an impromptu a cappella performance of one of Smokey's most famous compositions, "My Girl" (originally a hit in 1965 for The Temptations). Meanwhile, classic sounds popped up during breaks in the action. More than one promo for the new CBS drama series Tommy, starring Edie Falco, made prominent use of James Brown's dynamic 1966 hit "It's a Man's Man's Man's World." A commercial for Amazon Prime featured "It Wasn't Me," a little-heard '65 track by Chuck Berry, while "Time of the Season," the '69 smash by The Zombies, was on tap for Coors beer.

January 21, 2020 - Movies, Promos and Commercials Incude Hits by James Brown, Frogman Henry, Nat Cole, Beach Boys, Tokens and Temptations

So nice: James Brown's signature hit, "I Got You (I Feel Good)," got the prime time treatment all last week in promos for ABC-TV's Tuesday night comedy lineup. The current TV commercial from Expedia has been plugging Clarence "Frogman" Henry's 1961 smash "(I Don't Know Why) But I Do" as much as its own online travel service. Amazon Prime is now in the thick of the expanding grocery delivery fad with a spot featuring the 1963 Nat "King" Cole album cut "Let's Face the Music and Dance." On larger screens, many of which are accessible in or near malls across America and the world, "Surfin' Safari" by The Beach Boys and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by The Tokens purport to delight audiences as much as the animated undercover-pigeon movie they're featured in, Spies in Disguise. On the horror side of the cineplex, Underwater includes The Temptations' 1966 hit "Get Ready" amongst an otherwise mostly-orchestral/synthesized (and spooky) soundtrack score.


Let's Get Together Dirty Water Reach Out I'll Be There Tell Mama Kansas City Time of the Season I Got You (I Feel Good) (I Don't Know Why) But I Do Surfin' Safari