Monday, May 30, 2011

The Best Stupid Questions About 80s Songs Used In Commercials.

Rogue Mutt yesterday, reading my post about how the only area of pop culture attuned to my likes is commercials, raised the Philosophical Question: Which song has been featured more in commercials, "Melt With You" or "Tempted" by Squeeze?

Never one to miss an opportunity to take advantage of a chance to eke out a post without having to use my own ideas, and also never one to actually get up and do some real work for a change, I decided to pick up the gauntlet Rogue threw down and find out the answer to his question -- and to raise my own questions, in a post I cleverly titled...

... well, you read the title, didn't you? Let's get on with it.

1. Did Def Leppard really steal a line from The Archies?

There's your Pour Some Sugar On Me, and I sympathize with the guy because I, too, thought they said something about Ramen in there. Here's the full song, sadly minus Catherine Zeta-Jones:

Now for the stupid question's answer: Yes. At the end of The Archies' decidedly non-metal hit Sugar, Sugar, the Archies repeat, over and over, Pour a little sugar on me baby.

They also say "I just can't believe the loveliness of loving you," which is a great line. Admit it. Rolls right off the tongue.

Here's a bigger question, though: What's the deal with 'pouring a little sugar on me?' What's that supposed to mean? The girl the guy is singing about is sugar, right? That's the only way it makes sense. And here's a bigger question: whatever happened to Def Leppard? The answer is: They became Nickelback. It's true: look it up. (Don't look it up.)

2. Why was dancing so dangerous in the 1980s?

Between John Lithgow staring down at Kevin Bacon, that one movie with Sarah Jessica Parker having to sneak out to go to the dance competition, and the dangers of breakdancing, dancing might have ended up as Public Enemy Number One, had not "drugs" and/or "rock lyrics" been seen for the threats they were -- and had not Men Without Hats announced, partway through the decade, that it was safe to dance:

Was that an homage to inception, in the middle of an 80s parody? I don't get it. But that's not the original, of course. Here's the original, featuring the original dwarf, too. :

Was the dwarf an homage to This Is Spinal Tap? Or to that other great threat of the 80s, Dungeons & Dragons?

That song, too, begs another question: What was the Safety Dance? Nobody's really clear. The lead singer of Men Without Hats supposedly said that the song was about New Wave dancers being allowed to dance the way they wanted to, when bouncers would try to stop them from what they viewed as dangerous dancing -- so the song was meant as a big stick in the eye of those counterrevolutionary bouncers.

Hence the nuclear images at the end of the video.

3. Can you get the telephone number 867-5309?

Everyone who was anyone... well, everyone who worked at Chenequa Country Club, and was stuck there late one night but realized that the bar had been left open and so was able to make mixed drinks with their friends in a story that I'll leave hanging because to finish it implies that we then drove home extremely drunk in Bob's white Impala...

... tried dialing that number:

But only a few businesses tried to actually use the number, ending up in court over who had the right to pretend they had once dated Jenny and that's why they use the number, man, to remind me of Jenny, marking the first time ever that plumbing companies became interesting to people when there wasn't poop flowing into their living room.

That lawsuit in turn got Tommy Tutone bothered, because for years he'd claimed it wasn't a real number at all, but if someone's going to get rich off the number, it might as well be him: "It's ridiculous," he said. "If I wanted to get into it, I could probably take the number away from both of them."

But he'd mostly be doing it because he didn't want people thinking he'd spent the 80s pining away for a plumber.

But you don't have to fight Tommy for the right to have people drunk-dial you at night and sing you a song; you could have bought the number yourself on eBay...

... for $365,000.

Imagine how easy it would be to balance the budget without killing senior citizens, if we just taxed stupid eBay auctions.

4. Do extra charges apply if I attach my soul to the text message?

If you were one of the people unlucky enough to be left behind on May 21 -- sure, we all joke about it, but can you swear this isn't the six-months' tribulation? I saw video of Sarah Palin in black leather at the Washington Monument, and if that isn't one of the Seven Signs, I'll eat my hat -- then you might still be able to sneak in the back door of Heaven (the ungated side) by getting a Cingular phone:

That commercial uses Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill, a/k/a "That song that wasn't Sledgehammer,":

with good reason, too: using a cell phone is pretty much the closest any of us will ever come to a religious experience like the one that inspired Peter Gabriel to right a song about... um... renouncing material things and going to Heaven. The song is explained on thusly:

By February 1977 Peter had passed through a period of relative inactivity, frustrating piano sessions and a slightly bizarre obsession with vegetables notwithstanding (quite understandably, his wife Jill was convinced he had flipped)...

Okay, that doesn't really explain anything, but I did want to quote it here, because anytime I can do a post that ends with the phrase a slightly bizarre obsession with vegetables, I call that a good day's work.

P.S. According to my sources, I Melt With You (which is the actual title) was used in 7 commercials, counting cover versions not done by Modern English. I was only able to find three commercials which used Tempted, and that's counting its use in Grand Theft Auto:

But Tempted was also covered by (I think?) The Waltons:

Whereas I Melt With You was covered by high school girls who play the harp:

So make of that what you will.


Rogue Mutt said...

Only 3? I thought it was more. Still, could ad agencies think of some other songs to use?

80sMom said...

Briane: WOW, you spent so much time working on this post! Since I play the harp, I was especially interested in the "Melt with You" video. I thought I'd seen every 80s harp rendtion on Youtube - but I guess not! :)