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.