Daft Punk Revives The Great Rock Album TV Ad
Furthering the French band’s mystique, the spot revealed virtually no information beyond a warm disco loop reminiscent of the duo’s 2001 full-length, Discovery.
The snippet is presumably from a new song slated for Daft Punk’s eagerly anticipated fourth studio album, of which the public knows very little beyond the label it’s being released on, Columbia Records. Rumors surrounding the release continue to swirl, including alleged participation from such dance music luminaries as Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rodgers.
More than just teasing rabid fans hungry for new Daft Punk music (enough that a video of the 15-second riff looped for 10 straight hours has hit Youtube), the ad shown during SNL revived the long-lost art of the album release TV commercial.
Back in a world before the internet, YouTube and album preview streams, some of the biggest acts in the world turned to network and cable TV to get the word out about new releases.
From future-shocked animation to straight promotional tools to whatever it was that Nirvana did with Bobcat Goldthwait, these classic TV commercials hawking albums over the years remember when music ruled all of the airwaves.
Nirvana – In Utero
Still flush from the unexpected success of the band’s legendary second album, Nevermind, Nirvana’s label Geffen ponied up the dough to produce a TV spot promoting what would be their third and final studio release, 1993’s In Utero. Never an act to phone anything in, Kurt Cobain and crew called in comedian Bobcat Goldthwait to play Lamaze coach as the band feigned giving birth. With diapered chickens and a dead fish involved, the 30-second ad is a bizarre as it sounds.
Steely Dan – Aja
For the revered jazz-fusion act’s most famous and best-selling 1977 full-length, ABC Records recruited none less than Eartha Kitt (best known for being one of the actresses to play Catwoman on the original 1960s Batman TV series) to provide the distinctive voice-over for an atmospheric TV commercial that attempted to bring the album’s iconic cover art to life.
The Cure – Wish
In the early 1990s, MTV’s weekly late-night show 120 Minutes was a major outlet for then-emerging alternative artists who fell outside of the norm, although many of them were rapidly closing in on mainstream success. One such band was the Cure, whose U.S. popularity was still peaking when they released 1992 album, Wish. Elektra Records produced this conceptual ad especially for the show, incorporating shots of lead singer Robert Smith from the music video for album single “High” with trippy animation based on the record’s cover.
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 mega-smash was such a hit that Warner Brothers commissioned two different 30-second TV spots to promote it on TV. Both open with animated sequences featuring the band’s famous penguin logo coming to life and a clip of the single “Don’t Stop.” But for the second commercial, a quick snippet of “Go Your Own Way” is replaced by Stevie Nicks composition “Dreams,” which would go on to be Fleetwood Mac’s only #1 single in America.
Pink Floyd – Animals
Footage of the infamous giant inflatable pig flying over England’s Battersea Power Station was used for this commercial promoting the band’s 1977 concept album. Inexplicably, the spot opens to the strains of Strauss’ famous “Blue Danube” before fading into album track “Pigs (Three Different Ones).”
Michael Jackson – Thriller
Released in late 1982 with Paul McCartney duet “The Girl is Mine” as the album’s lead single, it wasn’t until second single “Billie Jean” exploded that Thriller went on to become the worldwide phenomenon that would make Jackson the biggest star in the world. As “Billie Jean” began to ramp up, this neon-soaked TV spot trumpeted the song’s success, with the only other tune mentioned being the McCartney collaboration. Also noteworthy is the album’s price point, available on vinyl at Sam Goody stores for $6.99 at the time. Cassette purchasers had to pony up another 50 cents to get their hands on Thriller.