Sunday, 9 May 2010
Can’t stop myself: Makeba sings for Toyota
Is the impact of your political praise song lessened if you also sing songs to sell cars? That might have been an interesting question to ask both Franco (Azda) and Miriam Makeba (Toyota). Using existing songs to sell a product is one thing. Being paid to make songs to praise a product or person is a little different.
Sean over at “Africa is a Country” points to the recent ‘trivialisation’ of Miriam Makeba’s Pata Pata being used to sell Hondas. He also digs up a challengingly good old NY Times article on this trend of artists licensing songs to advertising agencies.
For many from South Africa I would guess that Pata Pata has its own speical associations already ingrained in our imaginations. Once the advertising jingle invades the association, our own memories can become disturbed; forever changed. A bit like Satchmo’s “What a Wonderful World” in “Good Morning Viet Nam”.
But what is happening with artists when they compose or perform songs specially created to sell a product to make someone else a profit? Praising political heroes is one thing, but selling cars is another. Either times are bad, or the sales punt does nothing to your conscience? In Makeba’s case, I want to believe that 1980 was a tough year for her? When Siemon Allen, collector of everything Makeba, shared this with me on a recent visit I knew it somehow had to make its way onto ElectricJive. An historical curiosity – in French and English.