Saturday, September 13, 2008

Acura Wants You to Make Someone Very Special Happy

It's hardly a new phenomenon: advertisers co-opt a song to sell a product even though the song's lyrics or original meaning run counter to the product being sold. Heck, I got a chuckle last week when I was at Disney's California Adventure with the kids and heard Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." blaring over the speakers. On the surface it seems to be a snappy little tune extolling the virtues of California's largest city, but a closer listening reveals Newman's true intent as he rattles off a list of some of the ugliest places on planet Earth (that happen to be right here in the Southland).

But it is (to me at least) a sad thing to take a song with a lofty intent and warp it to fit a more "modern" view of existence. Jimmy Durante's 1965 cover of "Make Someone Happy" is a wonderful statement of the then universally understood Judeo-Christian sentiment that living for another is essential for a deeper understanding of life. By the time the agency responsible for creating a commercial for the Acura MDX acquired the tune, however, the song's meaning had been diluted by years of cultural self-absorption. It was then easy to invert its meaning, so that the person you really should do something special for is not some significant other but the more significant you.

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