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Axe Finally Uses a Daniel Johnston Song About Loneliness For a Sexist Commercial

Axe commercials: Now with 100% more tortured, achingly beautiful songs.
Axe commercials: Now with 100% more tortured, achingly beautiful songs.

See also: Daniel Johnston Is Coming to Phoenix


You know Axe, the company that makes body spray and hair care products for arch-douchers. And if you're reading this blog, you might even know Daniel Johnston, relatively obscure, indie cult hero, and tortured artist. Well, finally, the commercial makers at Axe realized that nothing says a "buy some hair goop" like an ode to eternal love from a mentally strained pop genius.

This 15-second ad, which highlights the age-old cliché that guys only see women as detached pairs of heaving, bountiful breasts, does so while treating you to "True Love Will Find You In The End". This track first appeared on Johnston's Retired Boxer (1984), but is probably better known by the featured version recorded for 1990.

Maybe I'm just missing something. Admittedly, I'm no advertising mogul, but I fail to see the correlation between a line of products with commercials historically catering to the "Maxim crowd", and the soothing sounds of a prolific songwriter whose tunes typically appeal to more to the bookish nerd at the back of the library and less to the "likely to score hordes of beautiful women and be pursued by scantily clad fallen angels" crowd. Demographically speaking, of course.

The face of AXE marketing.
The face of AXE marketing.

Why does this bother me so much?

 

When I saw this commercial yesterday, my first response was "That is so lame!". After talking with a friend about it, my sentiment was misunderstood to mean that I thought Daniel Johnston was a "sell out" for lending his song to a commercial. To be clear, I could care less about that. In fact, I hope Daniel Johnston made a million dollars. I have nothing against an artist becoming financially successful or seeing their hard work come to fruition. It'd be ridiculous to feel otherwise.

Of course, I understand the feeling of loss and betrayal when something you liked, something that no one else knew about, suddenly becomes a huge mainstream success. It is a perfectly natural feeling; but doesn't it also feel good that you were a part of something become a success by nurturing it and caring about it?

Anyway, I digress; back to why it's so lame: The thing that pisses me off about the commercial is how it somewhat cheapens one of my favorite songs by associating it with a dumbed down, narrow-minded marketing approach that is usually geared at the mindless masses, aiming it at a targeted niche audience with no need for the crap being sold.

With any luck, this trend will continue. Stay tuned for the next Dr. Pepper 10 (NOT FOR WOMEN!) commercial, featuring Neutral Milk Hotel's "In An Aeroplane Over The Sea."

Daniel Johnson is scheduled to perform Sunday, November 11, at Crescent Ballroom.

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