A few weeks ago I was sent a link to a music video featuring a collection of naked breasted female models prancing around a man wearing sunglasses, to a catchy if empty pop song.
I watched for about 30 seconds before I started skipping randomly through, dropping in and out to see if it actually went anywhere. It didn’t. No crescendo was reached. The song stayed the same, the breasts stayed naked, the man stayed in his sunglasses. Intermittently a full–screen Twitter hashtag flashed up over the vaguely adult footage, but that was about it. It was a mildly surreal viewing experience, but I quickly forgot about it and moved on with my life.
A few days later I heard the song playing in the corner shop. It’s unusual for a modern pop song to enter my consciousness such that I will notice it twice, but this one somehow got through the filters. I’m happy to admit it’s a catchy tune, but I had also made that mental connection; this is that song with all the tits in the video. I reached the counter, paid for my wares, forgot about what I’d just heard and got on with my life.
Another few days had passed when I saw a short clip of the video again, this time on TV. It was the same catchy pop song with the same women dancing around the same man in the same sunglasses, with the same screen–dominating Twitter hashtags flashing up every few seconds. It was identical in every conceivable way but for one key difference; this time the nipples of the aforementioned tits were now concealed by clothing. While still a raunchy video, it was clear a certain minimum accepted level of modesty had now been thrust upon it. I noted the clever twin video tactic, then forgot about it and got on with my life.
A few days later still, which brings us to earlier this evening, during a commercial break on TV I see the video again. It was the family–friendly version this time, but again with a subtle difference from either version I’d seen before. This time the women were waving around small plastic objects, each similar in shape to a cod liver oil capsule but between thirty to forty times the size. The hashtags were different too – now they were convincing the viewer to buy a pill. The advert went off, and I didn’t get on with my life. I instead came to the internet to confirm what I had just seen.
They filmed a naughty, titillating video to go viral on the sex–obsessed internet, they filmed a clean version to plaster all over the telly, and they filmed the product placement version for the commercial breaks. The song itself is seemingly designed to capture whatever fleeting moment of attention we might have for it by unloading everything it has during even the briefest burst, and it’s mixed and mastered with so little audial complexity that a first generation Nintendo Game Boy could comfortably reproduce it. Perfectly suited then to the tiny speakers of the mobile phones so beloved of the pop producer’s current prey.
I just looked up the advert on Youtube. There, to my amazement, it can be found with a director’s commentary. A director’s commentary. So there’s yet another version out there, this time offering us a previously unseen glimpse behind the scenes and so providing yet another incentive to watch it.
Let me share a couple of insights it provides, courtesy of the man behind the hashtag:
“Everything that [product] represents is youth and innovation and quality and gangsterism, so that’s everything I wanna be a part of.”
“Any time you can take a great song that’s fresh, and then, you know, you take a cool guy like me, and you mix it with one of the coolest brands in the world, I think it breeds swagger.”
Youth and innovation, quality and gangsterism. A cool guy like him. Swagger.
What moral bankruptcy. What sickening, soul sapping emptiness. What an abhorrent, cynical, foul tasting travesty. It is a strategically coordinated, spreadsheet driven, scientifically proven, misogynistic, multi pronged assault on music, art, spontaneity, creativity and commerce, so entirely and proudly devoid of passion, taste and decency that it happily displays nothing but open and blatant contempt for its audience, for society and for humanity.
At the time of writing, Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ is the fastest selling single of the year so far and the current UK Number 1.