Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Devo 'sells out' and Robyn gets bitchy

Devo's first song in more than a decade and a half is now... a commercial? Watching the new plug for a Dell laptop, it was obvious that the flowerpot heads were providing the music but what was that great song they were doing? A: "Watch Us Work It Out." I didn't recognize it from any of their old albums and as it turns out it didn't appear there. So how troubled should you be about them 'selling out'? If the song's this great, I'm not too worried, especially when I've used, bought and enjoyed Dell products for years now. If you like what you hear in the video, you can get the song at iTunes and

As for Swede popster Robyn (aka Robin Miriam Carlsson), you might remember her from her hit "With Every Heartbeat" back in the 90's before she burned out and retreated from stardom. After jumping ship from her label and releasing music herself, she's poised for another international push. "Konichiwa Bitches" goes back to a March '07 UK release (maybe even late '06 from an EP) and is only now coming out in the States. It was definitely worth the wait as this is a great piece of sleazy, fun dance pop (not to mention how funny and cute the video is).


Blogger Ceptor said...

Oh No, It's Devo! And hawking product on TV? Wow, shocker. But of course the Spudboys have been shameless commercializers since day one. As any devolutionist or member of the Church of the Sub-Genius knows, commercialization is the natural order of things as we slide, ever faster, backward to our primate future. Too Much Paranoias? The Devo Corporate Anthem? Nutra?? Oh the irony!

The irony plays out further, beginning in 1984 with our beloved spuds appearing in ads for LaserDisc, then the ads for Honda Scooters. Devo tunes have spiced up many a TV ad: Freedom of Choice (Miller Lite), Whip It (Swiffer, Hasbro toothbrush), Beautiful World (Target). The real fun of it is the irony of the tune vs. the product. Consider: the line "Break your momma's back" in a tune used for a product that's supposed to make mom's life easier. With Target, It's a Beautiful World ("...for you, it's not for me"). Of course those lyrics somehow don't make it on air. Miler's use of FOC is probably the biggest laugh.

And where is Devo now? While half run the Mutato Musika commercial tune factory, Gerry Casale is directing TV commercials. The band is just a sideline at this point.

Finally, dear blogger, I take exception to your calling the spuds "flower pot heads." I held my tongue when you called Lily Allan "cockney" (she speaks proper english and was raised in North London), but here I must speak up. First, it's not a flower pot, it's an ENERGY DOME. Second, they are Devo, de-VO, or just The Spudboys. Maybe Mr. Spudboy to you.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Economy Films said...

A number of years ago I interviewed Mark Mothersbaugh, and he had this to say about working in the commercial world:

Q: Are soundtracks & TV commercials subversive art forms?

A: They certainly have the potential. People tend to not be on guard at all when they listen to TV commercials. We used to put--and still do on a rare occasion--subliminal messages in our music for TV and film, and I've never had a client stop me. None of the messages are malevolent; actually they're all benevolent, like "choose your mutations carefully." If there's a kids' commercial where the product is kind of borderline, maybe we'll say "question authority."

12:06 PM  

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