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Stop Co-Opting My Sonic Youth

Next Tribe stealing jingles

There I’ll be, happily immersed in an episode of “Chopped,” only to be interrupted by commercial buzz kill. I’ve been enduring annoying ads all my life but lately, with the songs of my youth used to flagrantly push products, I’m ready to murder my television.

Exhibit A: Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” a few years back, urging me to book a Caribbean cruise. Can you imagine anything less Iggy than a luxury liner? Yet the brains behind the spot no doubt banked on nostalgia, a la “Hey, Boomer, wanna be cool again? Get on this bloated boat!”

Or consider the Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian,” now touting a hospital’s cardiac center. I’d like to remember the boy I was crushing on when that song was a hit — but now it just triggers thoughts of clogged arteries.

The trend is equally insulting when it uses “our” songs to attract folks who aren’t our age. Take the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” hyping a high-tech exercise bike. Clearly the commercial targets the impossibly fit, impossibly young woman seen cycling furiously to nowhere in her living room. Hey, ho — oh no!

Whether you decry Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” promoting perfume or Salt-n-Pepa’s (prophetically aptly named) “Push It” shilling for an insurance company, you may be tempted to blame the artists for selling out. I was initially, but I don’t know what’s in their wallets, and I can’t imagine they relish the idea of their art being used for commerce.

So I shifted the onus to the Mad Men (and women) compelled to jack these tunes. Please, people, at least record covers (and pay the songwriters royalties). Better yet, hire contemporary stars to reinvent the jingle. Chris Brown did a hip-hop version of the “Double Your Pleasure” gum ditty; I’m pretty sure he’s available these days.

—Nina Malkin

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