It’s a bit after the fact to complain about the use of pop music in adverts, a bit post-some shit or other. Witness the bleating that took place when Iggy Pop popped up in ads for car insurance: people who were but a glint in their grandad’s TV eye when Pop was raking bottles across his chest and vochowlising the missile trails of the nuclear A-bomb, these people, getting personally affronted, as if a) Iggy fucking Pop didn’t invent punk, b) Pop cared what they thought, or b) something really mattered about it. He is the passenger, but also the driver, yeah?
I used to get all stressed out about “selling out”. Being young and idealistic and making music in bands… haunted by the fantasia of the untainted artistic vision… for the majority of ‘mainstream’ bands, was it ever ought but the preserve of the financially secure, something easy to rationalise once the nasty period of ‘having a few hits’ was safely out of the way? And surely this model is now obsolete in any case, as ‘the music industry’ struggles to cope with new economic and technological paradigms? And has ‘the real story’ not always been one of artistes toiling for years in obscurity on their personal statements to the multiverse? (That’s enough pseudo-Žižekian economipop rhetoric? – Ed.)
Basically, moaning about pop music being a popular commodity is like dancing about Phil Collins retiring. I’ll be happy for a minute then feel like I’ve just wasted an opportunity to do something useful. However, I must express my extreme dissatisfaction with Queen’s ‘One Vision’ being included in a puff for British Gas. Witness the shitness here (embedding disabled because it’s AWFUL).
Of course, I was prepared to overlook the desperate appeal to aging Britpoppers now raising families that was the use of ‘The Universal’ in a previous, similar work. That ad also portrayed a number of animated planets, atomised individuals and families, looking in joy to the stars as their gas bills arced by in Newtonic splendour. The song playing the while was the one in which Damien Adenoidalbalm intones that “it reallyreallyreallycouldappen,” the associative grounds being that this is what we have been waiting for, this is the coming together of which they had a dream in them there 60s… I suppose it sort of fits with the advert, and the fact that Blur are, well, astronomically bollocks.
But! To continue the cosmic theme (because I know Brian May will like this, and it’s always worth nicking a great joke from Douglas Adams), with the use of One Vision in the recent ad, Earth has surely developed a minor eccentricity in its orbit, from Freddie Mercury SPINNING IN HIS GRAVE. It’s not even an asteroidal announcement of a pledge that a full third of British Gas profits will be going to fund renewable technology or something. It’s Nectar points.
Contrary to some arguments about his motivations, I think it is clear from the records and the record that Fred was, above all else, an idealist. The pomp, the nonsense, the ambiguities in life and death, were all part of one big Queen’s attempts to come to terms with life on this plane. Watch the bit from 01.58 in the video below. I almost cannot bear the expression of a desolation of ideals, an UNDERSTANDING of a better way swept aside by politics and economics, the assertion of the (naive but crucial) belief that, despite this, coming together and ROCKING THE PARTY can and will make it better.
Fred’s dead, baby. Fred’s dead. British Gas, with CHI and Partners, cast their eye around the world now, at different peoples striving for political autonomy and such, and thought ‘You know what, people NEED to know that being a British Gas customer means you can collect Nectar points.’ Then they thought that the best possible way to emphasise this was to use a song with basically incredible (in both the ‘I really dig this’ and the ‘Yeah, come on though, BUT…’ senses) lyrics of redemption through music. ‘No hate, no fight, just excitation…all through the night, it’s a celebration’. This fits, because it emphasises how you can also REDEEM Nectar points against a range of goods and services, and accumulate these points simply by being a British Gas customer. Simples! (That’s the wrong advert, you twat – Ed)
It’s a crazy little thing to get wound up about, maybe, but I saw it happening, that global harmony thing was, is, MY dream too. Nelson Mandela was let out on my birthday, and the Berlin Wall came down! ONE LOVE! But we’re STILL fucking fighting each other round the world, still living in a North Sea Bubble. Never mind, I shall amass Nectar points and CEASE MY WORRY. I mean, what’s the worst that couldappen? I suppose ‘One Vision’ could be used in a film glorifying militarist quasi-individualism or something.
Let us instead imagine the BEST that could happen. Clearly, the post-Freddie years of taking care of business with Baron Sir Ben Elton of Selloutavia have nullified the surviving (and participating) Queens’ aesthetic sensibilities too muchly. It has numbed the tongue in cheeks that Mercury brought them. But Brian… Roger… there’s still time. Time to tell British Gas to hitch a ride on someone else’s rocket ship. Then time to do a video with 5ive and JLS, in which you roll over their oiled bodies in homoage to the ‘I want to Break Free’ Video. Then go Stone Cold Crazy in some daft cover band midlife crisis mince. DO IT DO IT DO IT.
Meanwhile, here’s the full fried chicken silliness: