Chris Brown’s “Forever” Takes Corporate Rock to New Heights

Have you heard the song “Forever” by teenage sensation Chris Brown? This catchy pop song made it to #3 this week on the Billboard Hot 100. I’ve found it especially good for traffic jams and gym sessions.

It’s the kind of uniform commercial sound that makes you wonder whether the song was written by the same group of lyricists as Jesse McCartney’s Leavin,’ most Britney Spears material, and anything the New Kids on the Block ever released.

To Chris Brown’s credit, he wrote his own lyrics. To the dismay of anyone who ever thought corporate pop had limits of artistic decency, the song was written as part of a Wrigley’s commercial campaign.

In a word, we’ve been duped.

From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

“Forever” is an extended version of a new Doublemint jingle written by Mr. Brown and scheduled to begin airing next month in 30-second spots for Wrigley’s green-packaged chewing gum. Mr. Brown is one of a trio of pop stars enlisted by ad agency Translation Advertising, a unit of Interpublic Group of Cos., to update the images of three of Wrigley’s best-known brands.

Mr. Brown’s “Forever” is the most ambitious part of the campaign. Mr. Brown was commissioned to write and sing both the pop song and a new version of the Doublemint jingle, introduced in 1960. First, Mr. Brown updated the jingle and recorded it with hip-hop producer Polow Da Don. Then, during the same Los Angeles recording sessions in February, paid for by Wrigley, Mr. Brown added new lyrics and made a 4½-minute rendition of the tune, titled “Forever.”

Tom Carrabba, executive vice president and general manager of the Zomba Label Group, which includes Jive, says label executives initially had qualms about releasing and promoting a song recorded at an advertiser’s behest. “But the song was so potent and strong. That overruled us being maybe a little hesitant,” he adds. Other than the “double your pleasure” line, the lyrics to the song and the TV jingle are different. But the melody and the music behind it are nearly indistinguishable. “Tonight is the night to join me in the middle of ecstasy,” Mr. Brown sings in a verse that is also part of a 60-second radio ad scheduled to air starting Friday. “Cause we only got one night. Double your pleasure. Double your fun.”

Brown’s song was written not for human enjoyment, but for an advertising agency.
That takes “selling out” to a whole new level.

If you were handed a wad of cash by an advertising agency and told to write a hit song inspired by a chewing gum jingle, would you do it? Then change around the lyrics to garner a #3 Billboard hit, affording you both a fan base and a handsome income? And not tell anyone in advance that the song was actually created for the purpose of selling gum?

I think the advertising industry–and pop singers–just got a little dirtier.

  • Katasha

    Sounds like business savvy to me.

  • anonymous

    Couldn’t have said it any better Katasha, this was a great business move of Jay-z (the advertising firm owner) and young Chris Brown’s part. I’m reading all kinds of idiotic backlash about this on the internet. I mean half the jingles we hear are from songs, that we’ve listened to forever. So it was ‘unethical’ for them to just put the song out first and then bring out the jingle. Don’t get how I’m supposed to feel duped by this. I’m either going to buy Wrigley’s gum or not..and even though I’d pay $200 to see Chris Brown…he’s is a great entertainer..I won’t switch brands of gums and even pay 69 cents for a pack of sugar filled Wrigley’s gum!! We’re just not as stupid as the advertising agencies think we are..

  • anonymous

    And the comment I left off, I think young Mr. Brown is one of the most decent young pop stars we’ve seen come along in quite a whilte. He’s extremely respectful, humble, charismatic and overall charming, – no drugs, sex scandals or run in with the police surround his image. So I don’t think getting paid for the job that he does, is tainting that image.

  • We all sell out in one way or another. A form of prostitution, if you will. Why not earn the maximum amount of money you can earn while pursuing legal work? It’s the smart businessperson who can get the most return on investment of time or any resource!

  • Drea

    Thanks for your interesting commentary, guys. I’m an avid fan of independent labels, and have my own set of “purity” standards for what I choose to listen to. As far as pop is concerned, I usually enjoy it vicariously, but don’t buy it unless it really strikes a cord. As such, I’m not familiar with how pop (rap) stars like Jay-Z have done it in the past. What kind of gets me is not that Brown did it in the first place, but that the song’s intent was as a jingle in the first place. I just can’t dance the same to something after I know that it was written to sell gum. Call me a purist, but I prefer music written with emotion, passion, human qualities in mind, not sales.

    That said, if pop adheres to different standards, and people are in sync and OK with that, there really is no problem–everybody wins. Purists continue to avoid the tunes; fans buy tickets and support the artist. And, as you pointed out, Anthony, it’s business, all about the money. Selling out is certainly one way to maximize ROI–arguably one of the easier ones.

  • Awww c’mon – it’s catchy. The sad thing is I can dance to jingles so… I agree with Anthony – if Brown had the studio time paid for, and he was there anyway, and he already had a good start on a happy little tune – why not? Thank you though for the story, because it is fascinating to learn how things develop.

  • anonymous

    Gees…Chris is 19 years old, I truly don’t think any of his songs have been written with any gret emotion, passion or human qualities in mind, just ‘popular’ topics to sell to that demographic. He is in it for the money, as most musician are. It’s his job. The only thing I truly care about when listening to music, is if I enjoy the song. Could care less about ‘why’ they wrote the song. He wrote the song to actually keep him and his family out of the ‘trailer park’ ghettoes of Virginia, from whence he came.

  • jacobs

    Dear sir/madam
    we need some songs for downloads.

  • breanna

    he sux his music is crap