That’s (not) Entertainment: how TV killed The Jam
That’s NOT Entertainment!
For some time now our happy island nation has, slowly but surely, been invaded by an uninvited and unwelcome breed.
This is nothing to do with immigration, asylum-seekers, refugees, the EU or any of the other supposed threats that exercise the newspapers at election time.
No, this is an insidious invasion that has targeted our TV screens, and in particular the advertisements, ‘trails’ and promotional montages that seem to take up as much time as the programmes they punctuate…
The invaders are instantly recognizable by their distinctive singing style: breathy, slightly flat, sometimes with an ‘emotive’ crack in the voice. Their songs are, variously: drippy, dippy, dull and dreary. They are invariably accompanied by willfully amateurish acoustic guitar. This formula is used to advertise everything from white goods to Barclays’ revolting ‘thank you’ to ‘real football fans’.
A further sickening sub-group is the contrived, whimsical version of the above, which is often accompanied by a plinky-plunky ukulele. The most hideous examples of this are the nauseatingly twee Hive ads, which ask questions such as ‘why aren’t you having a bubble bath with a pink and gold giraffe while Hive controls your heating at home?’ (Or some such annoying bollocks – we can’t bear to listen to one of the actual ads again simply in order to quote its puke-making ‘lyrics’.)
So far, so bad. Yet things have now taken a serious turn for the worse thanks to the good people of Renault, who turned stomachs for years on end with the horrible ‘Papa!’ ‘Nicole!’ saga – vile stool-water which had a generation of hapless British TV-watchers throwing up at its fraudulent faux-French ‘charm’.
This time they have gone too far, by appropriating, of all things, Paul Weller’s rather splendid song That’s Entertainment – a dismal slice of British life in 1980, rendered as a sardonic catalogue of stagnation, ennui, vandalism and violence. If you are not familiar with it, here it is…
And here is Renault’s version, given the tedious troubadour treatment by Whinnie Williams, and sung in a particularly contrived ‘girly’ voice, making her sound about ten years old. As this doesn’t appear to be her normal singing style, one can only assume that the ad agency ‘creatives’ are to blame for cynically inflicting it on this blameless tune. Note how the line ‘A smash of glass and the rumble of boots’ (which in 1980 would have conjured up a picture of rampaging skinheads) is rendered meaningless here, while the phrase ‘a kick in the balls’ is actually changed to ‘kicking balls’, complete with the obligatory scene of some ‘real football fans’ straight from Sky Sports central casting. One can only hope that the smug driver has his windscreen smashed in and his car stereo nicked. At least he won’t be able to listen to this abortion of a cover version while driving through the artfully edgy but not-so-mean streets of Adland…