This Week in Music History (July 31 – August 6)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

AaliyahJuly 31: On this day in 1994, Aaliyah and R. Kelly secretly eloped in Rosemont, IL. Aaliyah just 15 at the time, so the marriage was later annulled.

Brothers in ArmsAugust 1: On this day in 1987, MTV launched MTV Europe. The first video they broadcast was Dire Straits‘ classic “Money For Nothing,” taken from their 1985 record Brothers in Arms.

August Are You Experienced2: On this day in 1967, The Jimi Hendrix Experience played their first of five nights at New York’s Salvation Club. The setlist included hits like “Foxey Lady” and Purple Haze” from their debut, Are You Experienced?.

The Smile SessionsAugust 3: On this day in 1963, The Beach Boys released “Surfer Girl,” the first single that gave production credit to Brian Wilson. He would remain as the band’s producer until he gave up on the Smile sessions in 1967.

Purple RainAugust 4: On this day in 1984, Prince began his 24 week stint of topping the US album charts with Purple Rain. The album has since gone on to sell over 20 million records worldwide, and is currently the sixth best-selling soundtrack of all time.

NirvanaAugust 5: On this day in 1959, guitarist Pat Smear was born. Smear would grow up to play in the bands Nirvana and Foo Fighters.

Whitney HoustonAugust 6: On this day in 2001, Whitney Houston signed a new deal with Arista that made her, at the time, one of the highest paid musicians in the entire world. The contract was said to be worth more than $100 million.

Find these musical gems in our CD marketplace, and own your own pieces of music history. Each album purchase comes with unlimited streaming and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC.

Musical Memories of Dad

Kayla: Father’s Day weekend is here, and many of us are taking time to say “thank you” to the guy who showed us so much about life. If your dad is anything like mine, he’s a huge music lover. I remember sitting on the couch with Dad, watching Pop Up Video on VH1 for hours, singing along to “Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt, and “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey.

RHCPMy dad tells a funny story about the first time I ever spoke a “complete sentence” in front of him. He said we were in our usual couch spot, watching Pop Up Video, when I turned to him and said, “Maybe the Wed Hot Chiwi Peppews will come on!”. (I’m from Wisconsin, but for some reason I spoke with a weird New-York-sounding accent when I was little.) My Dad said that he was so surprised and amazed to hear my first real phrase be about RHCP.

A lot of us have musical memories like these, whether your dad likes classic rock, funk, or classical composers. I asked the Murfie staff to share some musical memories they have of their dads, along with particular albums that come to mind. I hope you enjoy!

Beach BoysJohn: “Any album by The Beach Boys reminds me of my pops. I remember the ride home from daycare when I was little always seemed to include a Beach Boys tape. A lot of those songs are on Endless Summer.”

Blood, Sweat & TearsJeff:Blood, Sweat & Tears is one of my dad’s favorite bands and he plays them all the time. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone else who likes this band.”

Prime PrineAndrew: “This CD [Prime Prine] never left my Dad’s ’94 Plymouth Voyager. It was a staple on all of our family vacations.”

Jagged Little PillSteve: “My dad use to listen to Jagged Little Pill in the car when we lived in Oregon in ~96′. He would turn down the music when she drops F-bombs to protect my young and impressionable ears”

Kingston TrioMarc: “There was very little music in my house growing up. Radio was almost always talk stations with NPR classical in the car on Sunday mornings. However, I do remember many car rides back from Sunday church with The Kingston Trio in the tape deck, and, with the amazing technology of bi-directional tape decks, on infinite repeat.”

Car and DriverJason: “My parents almost always had music on in the car, and on Sundays they would play ‘oldies’ on 101.5 FM in Madison for a few hours in the morning (this was before the 24/7 Oldies stations). My dad was in a band in the 60’s and was into a wide-range of music from that era, but this album [Car & Driver] has a lot of his favorites.”

Richard ThompsonMatt W: “My father was very particular about the music we had playing in the car when we went to see relatives. Depending on the relative we were visiting it would either be Richard Thompson or Wagner.”

James: “It was Pop’s duty to clean the house every Saturday while Mom worked; he needed to look after us kids as well, but he never really considered that a chore. Two things would usually accompany his cleaning: records and a cocktail. The drink was usually either a 7&7 or a CC&7, and while the records would rotate through whatever Colombia House had sent that month, he would always find his way back to AbraxasAbraxas or Steppenwolf Live. Whenever I hear ‘Oye Como Va’ or ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ it brings me right back to those golden Saturdays – and I am reminded of MY first drink, as a 5 or 6 year old. I had just come in from playing outside, parched, and saw his cocktail on the kitchen table. I mistook it for an inexplicably unattended, but probably refreshing, lemon-lime soda; the condensation glistening in the soft Steppenwolf Liveafternoon light, taunting my thirst, begging me gulp some down. Now, Pop was watching from around the corner as all this was happening, and as witness he loved to tell this story. At that point in the tale he would pantomime my reaction (sometimes with an added spit take for the extra funny) and double over in uproarious laughter – he said he could never forget the look of disgust and shock on my face after I lowered the glass from my lips, but unfortunately he could never remember whether it was a 7&7 or a CC&7.”

LegendPete: “My Dad loved music, and Frank Sinatra was without doubt his favorite artist of all time. I remember as a kid sitting for hours with my older brother flicking through his vinyl record collection—he had a lot of Beatles 45 EP’s too. One album I remember him asking us to buy him for his birthday during the mid 80’s was Legend. Whenever I hear the song ‘One Love’ or see this album sleeve, it always reminds me of my Dad.”

Chet BakerLena: “My dad consistently listened to show High Standards with Jonathan Schwartz and the Real Jazz channel on Sirius. Just hearing the name Wynton Marsalis reminds me of him. I think my dad has a soft spot for Chet Baker, and so do I—it’s hard not to once you start listening.”

Smash MouthLeah: “My dad has always been a blast to drive around with, since he loves to play all sorts of music at full volume in his car. During my childhood, his picks centered on rockers like ZZ Top, Spin Doctors, and Nirvana, but as I aged, his tastes progressed to everything from Rage Against the Machine, to The Used (yes, really), to The Shins, to a fantastic Argentine accordian player named Chango Spasiuk. However, the fact that my dad will to this day still randomly chant that main distorted guitar riff from Smash Mouth‘s ‘Walkin’ on the Sun’ (‘ehh-EH-eh-EH-EH’) made this an easy choice amongst all of his favorites for jammin’ out.”

Happy Father’s Day from the Murfie crew! :-)

Pete’s Picks

Ok, raise your hand if you can tell me the most-watched annual sporting event in the world? Anyone?

It’s the Super Bowl, of course! But why do 80 to 90 million people from the United States tune into this annual sporting extravaganza?

Thats right, to see the new TV commercials!

So what has any of this got to do with music!?“, I hear you cry. Well, it is highly likely that we all have a track or two in our collections that have at some point been used in a TV commercial. Before the 1980s, the music found in television commercials was usually a jingle or a piece of incidental music. In 1971, a jingle titled “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” was written for a Coca-Cola advertisement and was later re-recorded as a pop single by The New Seekers and The Hillside Singers. Dropping all references to Coca-Cola, the new version was given the title “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing“, and it became a hit record in the US and the UK.

With the recent shift in direction taken by music channels like MTV and VH1, who preferred to jump on the reality TV show bandwagon as opposed to providing a platform to showcase new music, the once-forbidden topic of a band or artist “selling out” and licensing one of their tracks to be used in a TV commercial are long gone. In fact, it’s probably the best source of income and promotion that a band could wish for these days.  I hope this insight to a few of my favourite tracks used in TV commercials will help prevent you from scrambling across the living room and hurdling over the cat in an attempt to open Shazam on your mobile phone and get as close as you can to the TV to find out where that 30 seconds of music originates.

Jamie Lidell – Multiply

56019-largeJamie Lidell started out as one half of the techno-funk duo Super Collider before embarking on a solo career where he expresses his surprisingly rich and powerful voice over a blend of soul music with electronica, producing music which has been described as Motown meets the future. “A Little Bit More” from the album Multiply was used in a series of  TV commercials for Target.

Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg

MI0003453887Jake Bugg is an English singer-songwriter whose self titled debut album mixes Dylan-styled retro folk with contemporary rock riffs. Bugg’s track “Lightning Bolt” is currently being used to advertise Gatorade sports drinks across the US during the NBA championship games, and is likely to be viewed by an audience in the region of tens of millions across the US. It is understood that marketing executives chose Bugg’s track from thousands of “unknown” songs.

The Heavy – The House That Dirt Built

30255-largeThe Heavy are a UK Band from Bath, England, who play a mix of heavy-guitar, soul and rock backed with Kelvin Swaby’s vocals that have a certain Curtis Mayfield feel about them. Their song “How You Like Me Now?” features a sample from “Let a Woman Be a Woman” by Dyke & the Blazers and was featured in the Kia Sorento TV ad campaign where Muno (a character from the popular children’s TV show Yo Gabba Gabba)  and a bunch of unruly, hard playing soft toys take a Kia Sorento out for a spin resulting in an almost Hangover-style night on the town in Vegas. The ad was introduced during Super Bowl XLVI, and when the band was invited to play the song on The Late Show with David Letterman back in January 2010, it was the first time that Letterman had ever asked a musical artist to perform an encore on his show.  The band returned again to the show two years later to perform “What Makes A Good Man?”,  and they were encouraged to play their second encore.

Jet – Get Born

1458-large“Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” by Australian rock band Jet was one of many tracks used for Apple’s infamous iPod dancing-silhouette commercials, resulting in the band selling 3.5 million copies of their album Get Born, which is an incredible achievement for a band that was relatively unknown before the track appeared in the ad, proving why so many music publishers and labels are thrashing it out trying to get a slice of the revenue and attention that music in advertising delivers.

Mr. Oizo – Analogue Worms Attack

64366-largeFrench house musician Mr. Oizo introduced the world to “Flat Beat” with a little help from his head banging puppet buddy Flat Eric, whose appearance in a commercial for Levi’s Sta Prest brand led to the track maintaining the #1 position in the UK for three weeks in April 1999. The track is featured as a bonus track on his debut album Analog Worms Attack. The music video also features Flat Eric, as a high-flying record company executive calling industry taste makers and blasting the track down the phone while head banging away to the music in the most amusing fashion. “Flat Beat” is considered to be one of the earliest instances of Electro house music.

Product placements killed the video star

Product plugs in music videos

Prior to the product placement plague, I actually liked watching music videos. I’m not ashamed to say I anticipated the release of many a music video. I regularly tuned into music video stations, like MTV (during their heyday, before they dropped the “Music Television” part and latched onto non-music programming), to see what my song of the moment looked like.

Back in this heyday, advertisers had limited opportunities for embedded marketing in music videos. MTV was the go-to channel for music videos, and it was their policy to blur logos and brand names out of the videos they aired. Kind of a wet blanket for product placement, huh? That blanket has dried in recent years. Today, online video is king, the Internet the preferred destination to watch and share video. Lucky for advertisers, artists, and record labels, video hosting websites, like YouTube and VEVO, permit paid product placements. A jackpot for advertisers: the product they want to sell becomes a permanent fixture in a video that can snag an infinite number of views. A drag for us viewers: 7 music videos with blatant product placement.

Sorta makes you nostalgic for the 80s and 90s, don’t it? So, let’s have a share session. Which music video was the apple of your eye? If you show me yours (in the comments section), I’ll show you mine (see below). It’s the simple story of a man, a woman, her T-Bird [side note: I’m torn. Is this a prop or product placement for Ford? Help me!]…and his desire.

Do you care?

The 2011 Video Music Awards

So, the MTV VMAs aired last night. Did you watch? (I didn’t. I was too busy watching Jersey Shore beforehand and then thinking about it afterward. Maybe.) Now listen, are the VMAs even relevant, post MTV glory days (when music videos still mattered a lot)? One certain pop singer seems to think they’re past their prime.

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine made headlines when he tweeted this on Saturday:
“the VMA’s. one day a year when MTV pretends to still care about music. I’m drawing a line in the sand. f**k you VMA’s.”

And on that note, here’s who took home a Moonman last night:

Video Of The Year
Katy Perry, Firework

Best Female Video
Lady Gaga, Born This Way

Best New Artist
Tyler, The Creator, Yonkers

Best Male Video
Justin Bieber, U Smile

Best Collaboration
Katy Perry & Kanye West, E.T.

Best Hip-Hop Video
Nicki Minaj, Super Bass

Best Rock Video
Foo Fighters, Walk

Best Pop Video
Britney Spears, Till The World Ends

Best Video With A Message
Lady Gaga, Born This Way