Friday, September 11, 2009

Commercials and Go-Go Basslines

Several years ago, there was a shampoo commercial on TV that used this song. Usually I don't pay much attention to commercials, but some get me. There was one by Burger King that I went crazy for because it used time-lapse video effects (Remember Shaq O'Neal walking through the restaurant while people zoomed past him as his clothes kept updating with the times? It was broadcast about 2002).

This hair commercial got me because of the song used. I didn't know which one it was, just that it had a piano, rock element, backing singers, and a bassline that stood out enough for me to want to watch the commercials for it.

Years later, that sound still comes to me now and then. So today I decided to see if I could replicate the bassline, completely from memory. The bass had a solo during the commercial while the commentator described the way the hair reacted to the formula, blah blah blah, and that's what I used to help me. Again, drawing on the very pleasant scenes, colors, and forms that took shape in my head whenever I thought about it, I laid it down.

After getting what I thought it was down pat, I utilized YouTube to see if anyone had a video of the commercial. Of what I could remember, it was one that used the saying 'Head over Heels,' so I tried 'head over heels hair shampoo commercial.'

I found it. YouTube is awesome for that:

The solo I'm talking about is at 0:14 seconds in.

I was nearly right. What I had done wrong wasn't the notes but the technique. I'd played the notes fully, yet in the song there are some slides and quick fret changes that I didn't make - but all in all I'd just about gotten all the notes right, maybe one or two wrong. All from memory, and by ear.

By the way, "Head over Heels" turned out to be an actual song, from 1984 (I'd guessed it was from the 80s already, as I liked it) by an all-girl band called The Go-Go's. They were the band that did the hit "Vacation," whose music video I'd seen on Bob TV once.
They also, early on in their career, supported the British ska/pop band Madness when they toured America in 1980.

It's amazing how things intertwine and overlap, because when I heard that commercial I'd never have thought of any connection whatsoever to the producers of the music and my favorite band. Huge difference in sound, and it just seemed so different and miles away from having anything to do with Madness (the whole thing overall, not the song itself). I love it when things intertwine like that...

I thought of posting a video of me learning that bassline, then searching for the commercial, finding it and seeing the results of how well or awful I'd done. But it's too late now, everything's done with. The video would have been a good example of synesthesia because I was setting a challenge for myself using that thought system and then testing to see if it worked - which it did, at least 95% overall.

And this also proves that while I go on about Madness all the time, I see the beauties in other music too. Most of my one-off song favorites come from the decades of the 1970s, 80s (very much of the 80s) and 90s. And the reason is almost always because of the music, not the lyrics, with the bass playing a large part of it.

-Justin C.

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