Thursday, October 22, 2009

Swanton for a Million, or James Howard Thinks Too Hard About Music Sometimes

Okay. Here's a little test that I want you guys to follow me on, just as a little conceptual exercise.

Are you familiar with production music? The canned background music that media types purchase to save time and money on actual musicians, the musical equivalent of stock footage? I see some of you nodding. Okay, good. Now, there have to be -- what? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? Let's wager conservatively and say there are billions and billions of possible songs available for license as production music, because there is money to be made in it and all of the major labels have at least one music library dedicated to the stuff.

How hard is it to come across one particular track by accident or searching? Here's where the exercise comes in. Sony ATV owns a production music library named Extreme Music, which I would like you (if you feel you have the time) to poke around in with these instructions:

1) Visit the company's website. (And wait for it to load. Ugh, Flash-based websites. Ugh ugh ugh.)
2) Click on the 'SEARCH' tab, bypassing the default and wholly unhelpful BROWSE section entirely.
3) Type "zach tempest", the name of one of their composers, into the search bar. Note that this brings up seventy-one songs across three pages.
4) Locate the song "Loaded" on this list of results. It should be the tenth item, or at least it is on my screen; if it isn't, see how long it takes for you to find it.
5) Hit the green Play arrow beside the song title. See if you recognize the song. (It's okay if you don't. We'll be talking about it in a second.)

Now, that's five steps to reach a single song, and that's while knowing specifically which song we're looking for and where specifically to look for it. And those five steps do not include the necessary steps of actually being able to use the song -- licensing, purchasing, downloading, so on and so forth. And this is just the one library out of, oh man, who even knows how many production music libraries there are out there.

Given this information and this exercise, then, how likely would you say it is that that two entirely different companies at entirely different times would stumble upon and purchase one out of seventy-one songs, by some nobody you've never heard of, in one out of who knows how many libraries, that cumulatively hold hundreds and thousands and millions and billions of pieces of music each? What I am about to say may sound like a brave stance, but I am going to take the position that the probability of this is reasonably low.

Now, some of you may have actually recognized (or got a faint vibe of recognition from) the song that I'd just meticulously directed you to, and I have two theories about where you may have heard it.

Theory one is that you like professional wrestling, because years ago that very chart served as as the entrance theme for the Hardy Boyz, a pair of professional wrestlers who -- surprisingly, given the nature of pro wrestling -- are actual brothers who actually are named Hardy. (The 'z' in 'Boyz' was so the company could trademark the name. Welcome to pro wrestling!) And theory two? Theory two is that, at any time in the past couple weeks, you have come into contact with TSN, the cleverly-named Canadian specialty channel The Sports Network.

TSN is having its annual cross-promotional event with the Canadian Football League and the fast-food chain Wendy's, the Kick for a Million contest where average schmucks enter to kick a series of field goals for cash and prizes. You may recall that back in 2005 a guy actually did hit the million-dollar kick, and Wendy's instead tried to pay him in fourty annual installments of $25,000; the resulting audience backlash was so intense that the company switched it to a lump sum the next year. That's sort of a sidenote, though; I'm bringing it up more because of the seemingly inescapable commercials on TSN for the ongoing series of kicks at various games throughout the season.

So guess what music they are playing in the background of each and every one of these commercials. Guess.

(If you're wondering, I sat down in front of the hockey game and grabbed this myself with my li'l digital camera. Have you ever tried to capture a widescreen image with a fullscreen camera? Man, I don't know how those movie theatre pirates have the patience for it.)

So somebody at TSN, obviously, is being a major-league goof and sneaking wrestling themes into their promotional material for giggles. I would call this 'brazen', but I think it actually shoots right beyond brazen. I don't think TSN even knows the meaning of the word 'brazen', they think that's the extra brand name for those Dairy Queens that sell hot dogs and shit.

My guess as to the culprit? Jay Onrait. This sounds like something he would do! I distinctly remember him showing up as the anchor for the SportsCenter previews, back when RAW was still on TSN, and busting out lines like "We'll get you back to RVD's unbelievably fake looking kicks in a minute" and "I liked Carlito better the first time, when he was Razor Ramon". I'm on to you, Onrait!

Why, yes, I do routinely write multiple pages of text about a single musical coincidence. Look, I don't question what you do in your spare time.

Anyway. Exciting times ahead! Tomorrow afternoon, as soon as I get off work, I'll be logging in half an hour late and -- of all things -- watching the online stream of my own Master's graduation ceremony, in absentia, from fourteen hundred kilometres away because I can't afford to skip work or to fly back out there. Then, to celebrate in my own little way, tomorrow evening I'm going out to the Pyramid Cabaret for the Grady concert.

Blog-wise, after all that, I intend to compose a doozy of a post about this whole On7 business -- and I think it's going to be a pretty good one! So hold tight, true believers, and I'll see you around in a couple days or so.

1 comment:

Tyler said...

Amusingly enough, this is actually not unusual. I remember there being quite a couple of times that the Hardy Boyz theme has been used on both TSN and things completely unrelated.

In other instances of unusual music choices, I remember quite a few years ago that Hot 103 used the entrance theme for The Brood/Gangrel as the background music when they announced the weather. On a non-wrestling note, the crime drama Criminal Minds once played Opeth, yes, the Death Metal band (an acoustic song of course) during one episode.