Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Sold Out

It shouldn't surprise me but yesterday's news that AC/DC have released their own brand of wine has left a nasty taste in my mouth.

Why you would want a bottle of Highway to Hell cabernet sauvignon, Hells Bells sauvignon blanc and You Shook Me All Night Long muscat is beyond me but people will drink any old shit providing it does the job.

AC/DC are not the first musicians to suddenly become sommeliers. The Rolling Stones, Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, Motorhead and Madonna have all released their own vintages. Rumours that they all taste slightly stale and past their sell-by date could not be confirmed at the time of writing.

Is it me or does rock 'n roll have absolutely fuck all to do with wine? To me it's a clear sign that the individuals concerned have unceremoniously slumped into saggy middle age.

AC/DC are just another in along line of musicians treading the fine line between capitalism and credibilty. King of the hawkers is Gene Simmonds, lead goon in Kiss, and probably the most business savvy rocker in music. Despite never having written more then two good songs he has built up a multi-million pound brand selling all sorts of tat from clocks to comic books to clothes to coffins (The Kiss Kasket, yours for $4,700. It would make your mother very proud.) There are currently over 3000 Kiss licensed products on the market and at least Simmons is open with the fact that he has more in common with hard nosed businessman than a rocker.

"Rockers are idiots, come on. If strapping a guitar around their neck hadn't worked out, thanks to the grace of god, they'd be putting on an apron and asking the person next to them if they'd like fries with that."

Far more heinous then being sold rubbish are the cringeworthy adds featuring former anti-establishment figures like Johnny Rotten bending over and taking the corporate buck like he did with Anchor butter commercials. Iggy Pop the once edgy rocker and Godfather of Punk is now advertising insurance for Swiftcover like some two-bit door-to-door saleman even though the insurance he advertises was not availble to musicians. The fact that notorious paedophile Gary Glitter once advertised Heinz soup may be an irony lost on some (slogan: It's fresh, hot and creamy and it slips down your throat)

There are rare occasions that adverts can be credible. Lemmy doing a bluesy version of Ace of Spades for Kronenburg was actualy pretty cool and it was for alcohol so you can see the logic. Dr Dre has he own range of high end Beats headphones which are pitched at the right level and are obviously not purely shoe-horned product placements.

Ozzy Osbourne was filmed baking fairy cakes in an ad for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Normally this would be terrible but his hardrocking image had already been deconstructed by his reality show and he has turned into more of a national treasure and therefore his credibiltiy remains intact and he won't go to hell.

Sadly there is so much money sloshing about not just from CD sales and gigging that "alterante revenue streams" become very tempting. Beyonce was the richest female singer in 2010 with a net profit of $87 million. She earnt much of her income from a myriad of endorsement deals with companies such as L’Oreal. Lady Gaga earnt $63 million in part because of her partnerships with Virgin Mobile and Polaroid and The Black Eyed Peas made $48 million in 2010 from their sponsorship deals with Target, Bacardi and Apple. Once an edgy rap group they now fart out hideous cover versions to the lowest common denominator. Their music has got more banal the more they have chased the dollar.

With this much cash floating about you would think everyone in music was a corporate whore. Not so. There are still a few who keep the home fires burning. Radiohead, Neil Young, Springsteen, The Doors and so called bedwetters Coldplay are known for being extremely picky to the point of paranoia with the use of their music for commercial purposes. Adele point blank refused to do any gigs at the O2 despite losing millions in potential revenue as she does not like playing huge souless venues.

It is a grubby tide that will only continue to contaminate the musical shoreline so what next in line of pointless endorsements? The Lady GaGa guide on How To Dress for a Job Interview, The Michael Jackson Sleep Over Set, Eminem advertising Birds Eye fish fingers?

"They're fit for the Captain's table mutherfucka!"

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