THE SATURDAY MORNING SONG CHRONICLES
-- Paul B Allen III: April 4, 2020
THE MUSIC OF TV COMMERCIALS
Music plays a major role in so many different aspects of our lives, that at times for us it becomes just like air—it’s all around us and we don’t even notice it.
Music. We hear it coming from car radios, or our phones. We hear it in every single TV show and movie we watch. Even in the days of “silent movies” a piano player was hired to play music as the movie played out on the screen.
And, music has played a major role in the world of advertising. There are entire departments devoted to coming up with catchy music for TV and radio advertising spots, and many have done an excellent job. Oscar Mayer had two of the best commercials in advertising history.
As a songwriter, I know that it is all about “the hook,” the chorus part of the song that even your three-year old goes around the house singing. The hook is designed to stick in your head and encourage you to listen to that song over and over again.
Most songs are three to five minutes long. There is time to build in that hook and generally repeat it three to five times within the song.
But the music of TV commercials, often called "jingles," only have about thirty seconds to hit us with their hook, and it has to be so addictive and powerful that it sticks in our minds. The good ones do. There have been studies that prove that some TV jingles stick in our minds more effectively than any of our favorite songs ever have!
And, I think those studies are correct. There have been great songs that I have loved over the span of my life, but many of them, I have forgotten about. Maybe some of the words are a little jumbled in my mind now. Maybe I forgot about that great modulation that lifts the song in the end.
But I remember the TV jingles as if I just heard them five minutes ago, even if it has been decades since I heard them last.
Today, I’d like to share with you what used to be the bane of watching TV, the commercial, and more specifically, the music of the commercials that will never allow us to forget the product that they were attached to.
Some of these jingles are so powerful that they have made the companies that used them mainstays of the corporate world, and they have also generated hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue over the years.
I can already see your smile as you watch these rare video clips.
By the way, look for some actors who became well known later in their careers, like the Olson twins and Tia and Tamera Mowry. And is that Jaleel White—"Steve Urkel” of Family Matters—on the swing in the Toys R Us commercial? I don’t know, but it looks like it could be him.
Do you recognize that most distinctive voice singing the commercial about cotton being the "Fabric of our Lives"?
Finally, there is one last video called “The Fitnesse Strut.” I know that no one in America has ever seen or heard this commercial, as it was produced and aired in the U.K. When I first saw it, I was overcome with emotion. I never in a million years would have thought that my music would end up being a part of TV commercials history. Please enjoy, and fare thee well.