Monday, October 20, 2014

Two Radio Hits Brought to You by Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola's "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" - the standard bearer of jingle singles - debuted in 1971, shortly after Budweiser's "You've Said It All." The commercial had a similar sequence as the Budweiser one, spotlighting a lone female singer who is joined by a growing legion. (The difference: Coca-Cola's singers are multicultural young adults while Budweiser's are American middle-aged nine-to-fivers.) The song had a special quality of sounding at once like a commercial, a pop hit, a Christmas song, and a church hymn.

Credited to ad men Bill Backer and Billy Davis along with the the British hit songwriting team of Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" hit it big as a 45 released by the Hillside Singers, the same voices used on the original commercial. (Note the early seventies tendency toward child imagery being put to use for their album cover above.) That version hit #13 on Billboard, while a copycat version by Australia's New Seekers climbed up to #7 in early '72.

Bonus info: The British rock band Oasis, who perhaps deserve a future "borrowed tunes" megapost, were successfully sued for using the opening melody of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" for their #11 UK hit "Shakermaker."

1971 Coca-Cola ad featuring the Hillside Singers

The New Seekers - "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)" (1971)

(crossposted at Boneyard Media

Friday, September 12, 2014

Two Radio Hits Brought to You by Budweiser

One of the most recognizable American TV commercial tunes is Steve Karmen's "You've Said It All," written for Budweiser. It debuted on TV in 1970 and featured an ad in which a Dionne Warwick lookalike sings solo and is joined by a growing chorus of cheerfully average people. The chord change to a flatted seventh in the bridge (:43 in clip #1 below), along with the singers' emphatic delivery, gives the beer ad an almost poignant, Jesus Christ Superstar aura.

A 45 record of this song credited to the Steve Karmen Orchestra sold well enough in the summer of '71 to register in Billboard magazine as a "breakout hit" in Chicago. Oddly enough, "Budweiser" is mentioned nowhere on the label. Would that have helped or hurt its chances as a stand alone track, I wonder?

 In 1972, the Nashville songwriting team of Jerry Foster and Bill Rice served up a song called "When You Say Love" to Sonny and Cher, which appropriated the Budweiser hook outright, giving it new words and a new bridge. I'd always assumed the song, which became Sonny and Cher's final Top 40 hit (#32), was a knowing spin off of Karmen's jingle and that all parties had been in on it. No - it was an old-fashioned rip off, credited only to Foster and Rice, prompting the dumbfounded Karmen to (successfully) sue.

As for the adoption of the same Budweiser jingle by the Wisconsin marching band (and the legal aspects), that's a story you'll need to get elsewhere.

”When You Say Bud” TV ad (1970)
Steve Karmen Orchestra - “You’ve Said It All (Tuba Version)” (1971)
Sonny and Cher - “When You Say Love” (1972)

(Cross-posted at Boneyard Media)

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Hummers - "Old Betsy Goes Boing Boing Boing" (1973)

The 1973 Mazda commercial above prompted a 45 release on Capitol Records by the jingle's writer/producer Dan Dalton (credited to "The Hummers"). Without previous exposure to the TV ad, I doubt listeners would have had patience for "Old Betsy Goes Boing Boing Boing," which featured a confusing narrative scrubbed of any Mazda references. Then again, "Old Betsy" did run on fumes of sexual innuendo, which, during the blue early '70s, might have been enough to push it toward its Billboard peak position of #104 in late '73.

The Hummers - "Old Betsy Goes Boing Boing Boing" (1973)

(Cross-posted at Boneyard Media.)

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Osmonds - "Hold Her Tight" (1972)

Because no video/audio of the Osmonds' teamup with Led Zeppelin is readily available (see previous post), I'll share my favorite clip of the Osmonds' "Hold Her Tight," which channels Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" and shows where the brothers act was heading before family business priorities squelched it. I don't expect Zeppelin to be getting litigious over it.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Genya Ravin with Ten Wheel Drive - "Morning Much Better" (1970)

Although Genya Ravin only had one charting single with her group Ten Wheel Drive ("Morning Much Better," #74 in 1970), there's a lot more to her story than that, such as her '60s band Goldie and the Gingerbreads and her role in producing the Dead Boys' debut LP.

The thing about "Morning Much Better," though, is that I can't hear it without thinking of the game show Family Feud, which debuted in 1976 with Richard Dawson as its kiss-distributing host. Although the show's theme song (written by Walt Levinski) doesn't borrow any melodic ideas from the single (written by Ten Wheel Drive band members Michael Zager and Aram Schefrin), they both share a distinctive banjo/blaring horn DNA.

Ten Wheel Drive featuring Genya Ravin - "Morning Much Better" (1970)

Walt Levinski (for Score Productions) - "Theme from Family Feud" (1976)

(Cross-posted at Boneyard Media

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ray Price's early '70s pop chart streak

Ray Price, who we lost today at age 87, was one of early '70s country radio's crossover kings. As the Billboard ads above illustrate, a country artist's ability to chart in multiple genres was something to brag about in an industry eager to bust out of an insular phase. Although there's much more to Price's extraordinary legacy than this, his streak of six pop chart appearances between 1970 and 1973 bear special notice here. The orchestrated countrypolitan sounds that led Price to the pop and easy listening charts during this era may still offend the ears of some hardcore country fans, but there's no denying the interpretive authority of a true master, whatever the genre, when you listen to these:

8/29/70 - "For the Good Times" (Billboard pop #11, country #1)
Written by Kris Kristofferson, produced by Don Law. (These records also stand as memorials to Don Law's final years of prominence.)

3/20/71 - "I Won't Mention It Again" (pop #42, country #3)
Written by Cam Mullins, produced by Don Law. Cam Mullins is the arranger/conductor for all six of these.

8/14/71 - "I'd Rather Be Sorry" (pop #70, country #2)
Written by Kris Kristofferson, produced by Don Law

4/29/72 - "The Lonesomest Lonesome" (pop #109, country #2)
Written by Mac Davis, produced by Don Law

1/6/73 - "She's Got to Be a Saint" (pop #93, counry #1)
Written by Joe Paulini and Mike DiNapoli, produced by Don Law

8/25/73 - "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me" (pop #82, country #1)
Written by Jim Weatherly, produced by Don Law. More crossing over: Gladys Knight and the Pips took their version of this song to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1974 and #1 on the soul chart.

(No more Price singles reached the Hot 100 after this, although his country chart success continued until 1982.)

Thursday, June 13, 2013