Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Permanently Kill Your Career; Husker Practice Starts Tomorrow (Those Two Headlines Aren't Necessarily Unrelated)

It all started with the 2006 baseball playoffs, where during every single divisional playoff game, Chevrolet seemed to be running that fucking commercial during every single break, every single pitching change. On ESPN, on FOX, wherever there was a game, there was this new commercial with some John Mellencamp song nobody had ever heard of. By the time the championship series started, ESPN's Bill Simmons was already making "This is Ouuuuuuur Country" a running gag in his columns.

It only got worse. Not only were the Chevy ads on more often than Tim McCarver during the baseball playoffs, they were now running during EVERY NFL game. Before game 2 of the World Series in Detroit, Mellencamp himself played the entire song. Hell, Chevy even bought some ads during the Texas/Nebraska football game. This thing just couldn't stop, and Mellencamp was becoming a seriously bad joke.

As the NFL season kept rolling along, word leaked that the song was a brand NEW one by Mellencamp, a song which would be on his new record to be released in the spring of 2007. You know, right around the time March Madness takes place, and Chevy can buy a shitload of commercials during all the hoops action.

Mellencamp was critiqued brutally by the press. He finally gave interviews, saying he was forced to make the deal with Chevrolet. Nobody was paying attention to him, and radio had froze him out.

The deal with the devil hasn't worked. His album, "Freedom Road" has only moved
144,654 units. And John Mellencamp is making more people cringe than Michael Richards. We can still somehow watch old Seinfeld reruns, and Kramer still works. Oh sure, if Richards came out with something new today, we'd look at him the entire time thinking, "Fifty years ago we'd have had a fork up your ass!" But Mellencamp's music career is in serious doubt now. He's going to have to take YEARS off, and try to come back as either a nostalgia act or something completely different. And oh by the way, it doesn't look like Chevy's going to pull that ad anytime soon. Remember how long they stuck with the Bob Seger "Like a Rock" campaign?

Rock stars selling their songs is nothing new, and almost all have profited from doing so. But why's Mellencamp's decision been the worst. Many reasons:
  1. We had the worst baseball post-season in years. I follow the game more than anyone I know, and I had to sit back and think who the Tigers played in the ALCS. I still can't believe the Cardinals won a boring 5 game series (granted, I missed most of game 5, but that's another story). The NFL season and post-season weren't any better. Besides the Patriots/Chargers playoff game and Tony Romo's big muff in the Cowboys game, there was nothing memorable. All we take from a piss-poor Super Bowl is that Peyton Manning finally won a championship. So the repeated showings of the Mellencamp Chevy commercial became even more annoying. If this thing ran during the classic 2003 NLCS and ALCS, Mellencamp's wailing wouldn't be so bothersome.
  2. The first four days of March Madness are traditionally known as holidays to some sports fans. Some take Thursday and Friday off, and just sit around, drinking Guiness and watching hoops. Only this year, the first two days in particular were the absolute worst in the history of the tournament. And day's 3 and 4 weren't any better. But the entire time, Mellencamp was just around the corner, reminding us to scenes of a Chevy truck that this is our country.
  3. Seger's "Like A Rock" was already a huge hit for him before he made his deal with Chevy. In fact, that ad campaign didn't start until "Like a Rock" had fallen off the charts. The Stones gave Microsoft "Start Me Up" for Windows 95, but I seem to remember hearing that song a few times before those commercials ran everywhere. The Beatles sold the "Revolution" to H&R Block. Lesson learned: It's not necessarily a bad thing for rock stars to sell one or two of their older songs for some campaign. But it has to be something that's already in the public consciousness. Doesn't that make sense for both the artist AND the advertiser?
  4. Mellencamp used the ad campaign to promote his new album. He bought into the idea that billions of people were going to hear "This is Our Country" as often as they would have on the radio in 1985. Now music insiders say the album came out too long after the commercial. Excellent point. Why not put the album out BEFORE the baseball playoffs?
  5. As the Super Bowl became a distant memory, Mellencamp finally did the talk show circuit to promote his new album. Every host (I'm looking at you, Jimmy Kimmel) would bring up the ad campaign before Mellencamp would go into playing an acoustic version of...."THIS IS OUR COUNTRY". All the while, critics are giving the album decent reviews, and saying that "Our Country" is one of the weaker tracks on the album. Why wouldn't Mellencamp play "My Aeroplane", which many have pointed out as a potential hit?

So it only took 20 years, but Mellencamp is as dead as Dillenger. The good news: Husker football spring practice starts tomorrow, and we're going to get updates daily (whether we'll use them or not depends on how fun they are). I've requested for "Scoop" to pay special attention to Marlon Lucky and Maurice Purify. And of course, what section of his pants Kevin Cosgrove sticks his playbook in.

Oh, and all of those skyboxes. Make your own conclusion here, but remember the slick con artist behind the message.


BSmokedTurkey said...

So, does JCM come across as a real person or just an image of Americana to sell records? I lean towards the former. "Corporate Shill" was a bad move for him, as you've pointed out.

The most important thing we can take from this was that "Cherry Bomb" was a great song.

Dirtylaundry said...

That's what makes this so sad. About four years ago, back in my radio days, somebody handed me two free tickets to go see Mellencamp. I literally went in, not as huge fan, but with no expectations but to see the show.

It was an excellent concert. He's actually so much better live, that little bastard bounces around the stage getting everyone fired up. Did an incredible version of "The Authority Song", and another highlight was that he had no opening act. Instead, midway through the show, he took a break, and out comes out of all people, fucking DONOVAN. He did some of his great 60's stuff, and then Mellencamp came out to do "Inherit the Wind" with him. Donovan then left stage, and Mellencamp's crew finished the show. It made me get into some of Mellencamp's stuff, and now this Chevrolet thing just pissed all over that great night.

Adam Douglas said...

I agree with Mellencamp points and baseball playoffs being boring. However, Colts/Pats was highly entertaining and will go down in NFL playoff lore. Maybe you were too bombed on St Pats day, I sure know I was overserved Carbombs, but Saturday was arguably the best day of tourney hoops ever. 7 of 8 games went down to the wire, including a record number of overtimes. I am eagerly awaiting your Skers Spring Ball coverage. what is the over/under of Nebraska media puff pieces on Sam Keller? 20? O/U on number of investigative reporting on Lucky's OD? 1? I take the under on the latter, over on Keller. Mac G