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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Help! That Victoria's Secret Angels Ad Is Ruining M83's "Midnight City" For Me

Posted By on Wed, Nov 9, 2011 at 5:00 AM

click to enlarge victorias_secret_m83.jpg

Can there be a button you press somewhere on the Internet that lets advertisers and musicians know that if you see that one ad -- with that one song -- one more time, you are going to hate the song, the ad, and the product ... forever?

Judging by their quickly hatched hater-base, the members of Pomplamoose would have appreciated this by late November of last year. And now I beg for such a warning system on behalf of M83, whose "Midnight City" might just make this straight male loathe the thought of busty Victoria's Secret models prancing across his television screen in angel's wings.

Here is the offending commercial:

While glazing over for 30 minutes in front of a TV screen, I sat through this 31-second clip three times. By the second viewing, I was wincing. Wincing! At the pairing of beautiful women and Pitchfork-approved indietronica!

It's not a bad song; it might even be a really good one. And the visuals -- carefully arranged female anatomy, fluffy wings, and the imposing majesty of Prague, all unfolding in slow motion -- are, well, everything you'd expect of a Victoria's Secret ad shot by Michael Bay. (Feminists, sigh here.)

The combination just doesn't work aesthetically. "Midnight City" evokes at least a little sadness: That repeating high-pitched yelp reeks of human desperation (is it actually Anthony Gonzalez's voice?), and the background chords feel nothing if not ominous. The main refrain is "Waiting in the car/ Waiting for a ride in the dark." Maybe this is an ecstatic solitude, or maybe it's a forlon loneliness. But "Midnight City"'s only intimacy is with itself. That's clearly not the right mood-setter for a bra commercial featuring angels.

Midnight City by M83

Assaulted by this audio/visual dissonance, I want to retreat. I want to do the thing TV should never make you want to do: Turn it off. But even then, I find myself visualizing the ad when I hear the song.

This is too bad, because one of the great things about Gonzalez's musical output as M83 is that it often feels like a readymade soundtrack. He naturally wants to pair his sweeping moodscapes with interesting visuals. But melding an emotionally complex song like "Midnight City" (themes: sublimity/solitude/self-awareness) with a fleshy perfume-and-panties ad (theme: sex!) doesn't make either look good.

And, dear TV gods, no spot should be so torturously overplayed! The public needs an alarm system to tell advertisers when to stop. I propose a big red virtual buzzer at one easy-to-remember URL. After so many frustrated views and irate clicks, the ad gets pulled. Automatically.

Until that exists, I await the moment Victoria's Secret will completely ruin "Midnight City" for me.

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Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Ian S. Port @iPORT, and like us at Facebook.com/SFAllShookDown.

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Ian S. Port

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