I watched Tár this week. The featured musical pieces include Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor (above). The subtleties are lost on my underdeveloped musical perceiving apparatus, but I rather enjoyed the passages from Elgar.
Also, and independently, I learned that the lyric from “A Quick One While He’s Away” is not
I came to appreciate his genius when a vintage Mentos commercial recently appeared on one of my devices.
At the time it came out (1992) I had the same reaction as everyone, i.e.
WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS. But this being in the before times, prior to Makerbot inventing the internets, I had to simply wonder how the abomination arose, and wallow in ignorance.
Enter Bastard Research Division.
The candies, in various formats, have been around since the 1930’s, and are owned by the Perfetti Van Melle, an Italian-Dutch corporation. Van Melle hired the ad agency Pahnke & Partners out of Hamburg, to come up with the ad spots. Groves composed the theme, which is available in extended format!!
The bulk of commercials were shot in South Africa, and aimed squarely at the US and Canada.
Viewers who spotted the ads when they premiered in July 1992 were driven to distraction by one intangible: The ads seemed disconnected from actual human behavior, and the song itself was critiqued for appearing to be an English translation that didn’t get the lyrics quite right.
When Van Melle was asked “what the actual fuck?” they responded coyly, realizing they had a phenomenon on their hands. The less they answered, the more interest there was. Sales went from $20M in 1991 to $140M in 1996, worldwide. In the late 90’s, Altoids caught fire and were blamed for a decrease in Mentos market share.
The singer is allegedly Richard Ryan Graves (aka Frank Ryan), who takes zero credit for it on wikipedia or elsewhere. He was in Hamburg at the time, so he remains a likely suspect.
After 40+ years, this still might be the strangest cover version I’ve ever heard of anything. The re-worked lyrics, where I can understand them, are hilarious. I know only two things about the Residents: they were from San Francisco, and they had a guitarist called Snakefinger. Perhaps former Bay area Bastards can add something. According to the comments, the animation is by Ivan Maximov, a Russian. I don’t know anything about him either. As far as I know, the song and animation are unrelated, but they make a perfect match. Beyond that, words fail me on this one.
I think I could put almost any modern country song here, as they are nearly all appalling. The dopey two-step beats, the horrible twang, the cowboy hat affectation, the utter lack of curiosity or twist in the songwriting – i.e. it’s funny that you love your country when you haven’t explored it beyond your barn.