If you’ve been watching TV at all lately (or have been to the cinema), you’ve seen the slick and sexy Chrysler ad that features Diana Krall singing “The Look of Love.” My initial reaction was neutral — she’s a velvet-voiced and sultry singer getting a fat cheque to croon a classic song for some car company. Hey, why not? I’ve only recently come to realize that this version of the song is also the title song from her new album.
It’s one thing for a singer to rent out their voice for advertising, or to let a company use an old song of theirs to promote something, but when an artist sells a new song — particularly a title song — to advertising, that really stinks. It seems like the ultimate sellout, the overt and pornographic crawling-into-bed between an artist and a big corporation. The kind of thing for which Mordecai Richler never forgave the poet A.M. Klein.
It is, indeed, a brilliant coup d’etat on the part of the car-pusher. Boring old Chrysler is now hip and sexy. Redolent of rainy urban nights, pearls, and illicit romance. On the part of the singer, however, it is disasterous. When we hear the song outside of the ad, we won’t feel sexy, we’ll just think about cars. The song is no longer a jazz standard, it’s an advertising jingle. Who would buy such a CD?
I must confess I’m particularly sensitive to this issue because I am so tired of relentless advertising. I can no longer listen to commercial radio, and I rarely watch television, for exactly that reason — I can’t bear the commericals. This is also why I won’t link to a blog that causes pop-up ads when you go to it. I don’t mind banner ads (in fact, my privacy software blocks most of them), but pop-ups are very intrusive, annoying, and downright vile. I don’t just boycott blogs with pop-ups — I won’t go to any website that I know will cause these intrusions, (for example, any “about.com”, and Systran’s Babelfish translator), and I encourage all of you to do likewise.
I’m sorry, Ms. Krall, but that husky and sensuous voice of yours is falling on deaf ears with me. Instead of your music setting a mood and casting my mind towards slowly peeling off that black evening gown of yours, it makes me think about oil changes and anti-rust treatments. No thanks.