Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Invisible Earphones -- "Girls"

Every day I wake up and hear music playing in my head. I don't actually hear it, but you know what I mean. I get up, take a shower, and all the while a song is playing. It might be "Fur Elise," it might be "Ride the Lightning." If I'm lucky, it won't be "Hey Mickey."

This shit is dumb, and cold getting dumber. In case you haven't heard, a toy company, GoldieBlox, released a commercial that, depending how you look at it, appropriated/parodied/swiped "Girls," a song from the Beastie Boys' 1986 album License to Ill. The Beasties' lawyers sent GoldieBlox a letter explaining that the late Adam Yauch (MCA) wrote in his will that he never wanted to have Beastie Boys songs used in commercials, and then GoldieBlox preemptively filed in court for a ruling. My law vernacular is probably off there, but every site I've read has been claiming that GoldieBlox is "suing" the Beasties. To be clear, GoldieBlox is not looking for money from the Beasties camp. They've probably made enough from this bullshit "controversy" already.

First of all, how the hell does a song that's 27 years old create controversy almost to the exact date of the album on which it was released? Secondly, Yauch and the rest of the Beasties long ago disowned the misogynistic lyrics on License to Ill to the point where they wouldn't perform most songs off the album in concert*. That worked out pretty well for them; they smartened up fast, abandoned the faux frat-core scene they created, and carved out a legacy that spanned four decades.

So why is this an issue? I can't speak for the dead, but I have a hard time believing that Yauch would be against a song that he disowned** being repurposed into a parody, even if it ultimately is for a commercial purpose.

The commercial in question is a parody, by the way, and I find it really weird that this is even a thing, that hip-hop groups (or, rather, their corporate counterparts) would take issue with the very thing that founded hip-hop: sampling.

Both parties should stop fighting for their intellectual rights. Because they're both wrong.

* They also didn't include the hip-hop masterpiece "Paul Revere" on their greatest hits compilation, The Sounds of Science, ostensibly for what Ad Rock did with a Whiffle ball bat to the sheriff's daughter.

** Those lyrics are actually very tame, almost sweet, until the song ends with the Beasties' wishes that girls would do their dishes, laundry, and clean up Ad Rock's room. You can't go back 27 years and call that song overly misogynistic when you have Yeezus and "Blurred Lines" getting play in 2013.


Peter Brand said...

I disagree, MCA was strongly against his music being used for commercial purposes--so much so that he included a clause about it in his will.

Harrison Forbes said...

Yeah, I mentioned that, and it would be against his wishes if GoldieBlox actually used the song, but they used the music and changed the lyrics into a more empowering message than a demeaning one.

I have a hard time believing that Yauch would disapprove of the reworking. And if he would be, it would be very ironic coming from someone who participated in the golden age of jacking beats.

I don't know how Ad Rock and Mike D feel, but if they're up for a lawsuit, I don't believe in nothing no more.