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February 7, 2011 / GG54

If it wasn't for shaving cream commercials, classical music would be dead

My composition teacher said that to me years ago. There is some sad truth to it.

Yesterday afternoon, millions of people across Canada and the States crammed around their HDTVs and stuffed their faces with guacamole to watch the something-er-other bowl. What they didn’t realize as they were prepping their salsa bowls is that they were about to get classical’d.

This year, classical music was used to sell you soft drinks, electronics, cars and movies. But why do marketers choose classical music? Do they perceive a sophistication that will make products fall of the shelves?

I think that whether people have a background in classical music or not, they all recognize its power of being dramatic. Whether it’s the heart-string-pulling Barber Adagio for Strings or pure optimism of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, people have the ability to understand the emotion of a piece, even without any musical training. There is something inherently universal about it. We can’t say the same thing about Shakespearian English or George Bush’s English.

With my sincerest thanks to the always knowledgeable @kickassical, here are the eight classical cameos during Super Bowl commercials:

VW Passat: John Williams ‘Imperial March’

Pepsi: Boccherini ‘Minuet’

Just Go With It (Movie): Beethoven ‘Symphony No. 9’

Doritos: Verdi ‘Requiem: Dies Irae’ Rimsky-Korsakov ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’

Coca-Cola: Tchaikovsky ‘1812 Overture’

Coca-Cola: Handel ‘Sarabande’

Best Buy: Rossini ‘Barber of Seville: Overture’

It may be brief, but classical music creators can rest assured knowing that millions of people were exposed to the art this weekend. We’ll take what we can get.


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