4 Janis Joplin Unwittingly Endorses Mercedes-Benz from the Grave
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Mercedes-Benz ran an ad wherein an entire town sings part of Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" in honor of a handsome Benzo doing the whole village the honor of driving through it. In one instance, a mother even coos it to her infant child. Aw! Never too early to teach that little fella to want things above his means.
"Mercedes Benz" wasn't about how great Mercedes-Benzes were -- it was about how wanting one was kind of a shitty thing to do.
Joplin had grown up in the '50s and '60s, and the era's constant "buy buy buy" attitude had deeply affected her outlook on life. So she wrote a song about how pointless and depressing it is to lust after stuff, because all it does is make us want more stuff. After all, not only does consumerism not satisfy your soul in any meaningful way, it also means less money for sweet, sweet booze and less time for sweet, sweet boning.
The song has two more verses, which, of course, the commercial doesn't touch, because Janis forgot to mention any obscenely expensive vehicles in them. In the second verse, she sings about how much she wants a color TV -- another useless extravagance to her eyes (hey, they hadn't invented video games yet, you can't blame her). In the third verse, Janis only wants "a night on the town." That was the point of the structure of the song: The narrator pines for progressively less impressive things, dropping from a pricey new car to just a few fleeting moments of distraction, because she knows they're all out of her reach, and probably won't make her any happier anyway.
But Mercedes-Benz saw all that and just thought "Hey, she mentioned us! Let's use it!"
3 Hewlett Packard Wants You to Take Pictures to Cure Your Suicidal Depression
The theme of this 2003 commercial for Hewlett Packard was "living in pictures." Naturally, HP wanted a photography-themed song to accompany their touching montage. You know, something upbeat and perky, with a positive message and a catchy melody. So they chose the Cure's "Pictures of You."
Hey, one out of four ain't bad.
The song, far from being an ode to "seeing photos everywhere you look," is about the inability to let go of the past, doing nothing but sitting around all day and staring wistfully at pictures of better times instead of, you know, living.
I've been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they're real
I've been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel.
Like two minutes after writing that verse, you know Robert Smith started cutting himself just to see if he could still feel pain. We would love to pop out of a time-traveling phone booth right at that moment and show young, heartbroken Smith this commercial, 20 years in the future, that uses his statement of anguish and ennui to hock digital cameras to happy families. He would probably discover an entirely new form of crying. We would stick around to make sure he didn't kill himself -- we're not monsters.
Plus, we'd want to help him name it. Something between "irony" and "anguish." Anguiny?