Commodity Fetishism

Mellencamp Must Read

Just wanted to take a moment and post a link to this must read article by John Mellencamp for Huffington Post. Loss of Eden loves Mellencamp, especially when he writes sensible stuff that everybody needs to hear like this one. A little on the long side, but totally worth the read:

Pin the Tail on the Product Placement: Starring Lady Gaga and Beyoncé

Watching the new Lady Gaga/Beyoncé video for Telephone is like Where’s Waldo for the new millennium. How many product placements can you find?

I found: Virgin Mobile, LG, Diet Coke,, Polaroid, Wonderbread, and was that Mayo by Kraft?

Pretty good, huh?

On youtube, someone left a comment that asked, “What happened to artists taking pride in their work?” No, he wasn’t berating the new video! Silly. This viewer was very concerned about artists “making cheap crap” for music videos, and was overcome with praise for the Telephone video and all of its creativity.

Because creativity looks real good ‘n’ stuff. And like so many things that look real good ‘n’ stuff…

Creativity takes money.

Music artists no longer make record companies money – or enough money – and we’re looking at the most “successful” ones here. To be sure, the record companies aren’t seeing 1990’s Madonna dollars from all this, and if they’re not seeing the big dollars, creativity doesn’t really fit into the budget.

But Gaga and Beyoncé? These rich girls wanna be pretty and hot and have videos that are pretty and hot too – you know, with great lighting and makeup and of course…

The Pussy Wagon.

Luckily, products like Virgin Mobile, Diet Coke, and Polaroid all want to be in pretty advertisements too!

(Not sure if they require the Pussy Wagon on their rider for TV appearances).

Boy, nothing says creative big budget music video like big budget corporate dollars. It’s really the only way to be pretty these days.


When LoVe is spelled L.V.

by Ayesha Adamo

As if commercialism hadn’t killed music already…suddenly it’s as though deadness were a matter of degree.

Sure, this new model had its ancestor in making your ass the billboard for some designer’s name, but now there’s JLo’s new song “Louboutins”  (aka Louis Vuittons, to the somewhat more articulate?  No, in fact, Christian Louboutins: a brand you would only know if you’re power-bourgie enough to shop at Bergdorf Goodman), and for the very first time, the designer’s name will be fed into your fragile eardrums from your very own iPod.  Not once or twice, as is usual with hip-hop product name dropping, but…

34 times per song play.

(that’s 8 times in a chorus for you ringtone kidz)

Pretty soon, you might even be singing along – spreading the gospel of Christianity a la Louboutins!

A pastor once told me that singing is as good as praying three times…

But let’s look at this analytically: Here we have a song in which the entire chorus states that JLo is “Putting on her Louboutins” again, and again, and again…

Wait – was she putting them on or strapping them on?

No wait..she’s throwing them on – of course!

“Putting” would have been too…ummm…pedestrian, while “strapping” them on wouldn’t fit the no-nonsense late modern lifestyle, and it sounds a little too kinky for the conservative folks.

No matter.

The verbs of life are no longer consequential.  Only the nouns count these days, and only so much as their exchangeability allows for, what with our necrophilic desire to know ourselves through desirous union with the other…in this case, the sparkling stiletto.

OK, but now, I’m trying to understand the business model:

The mp3 has no (or nearly no) value because it has an unlimited shelf-life, and the iTunes shelf is always stocked.  The supply is unlimited and an unlimited number of people may download the same file.  Also, when you’re a famous artist like JLo, and often even when you’re not, the mp3 commodity that you’re selling will most assuredly be available somewhere on the internet for free.

Not-so-antiquated solution: you give the music away and expect people to buy the T-shirt.

Music is now the advertisement, not the product.

Now, for the recording artist, there’s still some money to be made in licensing, if you’re JLo, anyway (if you’re not JLo, you’re probably paying to submit your song to be licensed in return for a modest fee and the privilege of having your music in a show or commercial that will reach a wider audience – this thing they came up with called “exposure”).  Naturally, licensing alone – even if you’re JLo – doesn’t fill a record label/publishing company’s purse like in the good old days of multi-platinum album sales and performance broadcasts that weren’t on youtube, again, for free.

And so, enter the new model:  the song IS the advertisement!

No, not the advertisement for the recording artist, so you’ll find them cool enough to buy the T-shirt.  The song is the advertisement for a 3rd party: a company who buys ad space on an artist’s album in the form of a song.

Hmmm…perhaps the word artist should be in quotes here.

In any case, I’m sure Jenny from the Block will “walk it out” all the way to the bank in her…”Louboutins.”  And probably her Louis Vuittons as well.

I hear the album’s called “Love?”  Love spelled with an “L” and a “V” and definitely a “?”

I also heard that Karl Marx wrote this romance novel called Das Kapital.


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