Thursday, April 05, 2007

Brought to you by the Gap

Let's all travel back to the late 90's for a moment. A time when Gap proved with a series of Khakis ads that some good music, dance moves, and a little style can go a long way in marketing. While I wasn't exactly leaping off the couch to jump into some khakis, they were a nice diversion in the wasteland of television advertising. These days we can just skip commercials, heh heh. I think of them as a pre-cursor to Apple's iPod ads, which basically took a similar concept and made everyone silhouettes. If you need to jog your memory, these are (of course) all on youTube, so click the title to check'em out:

Khakis Swing.
This is the one that kicked it off. This was the first time most people were exposed to the "Matrix bullet-time effect," which actually predated The Matrix. Though if you peruse this wiki article, you can trace the history of the effect back to animation, the opening of Speed Racer being an early example (neato!). In any case, this commercial coupled with the release of The Matrix soon after definitely jumpstarted an inundation of bullet-time effects in film and media, of which we can still feel the ripples to this day. Depending who you listen to, this ad also marked the death of the swing revival.
Louis Prima - Jump, Jive, An' Wail
Louis Prima - Jump, Jive, An' Wail [Remix]
Brian Setzer Orchestra - Jump, Jive, An' Wail [originally by Louis Prima]

Khakis Rock.
Not sure sure how exactly this got classified as "rock". I guess Gap Electronica got vetoed.
The Crystal Method - Busy Child

Khakis Groove.
This entire post is just an excuse to share this next song. This was my favourite of all the Gap ads, starting with the music, Fuzzy Haskin's Gettin' it Off. And the moves. I love that whole "step-through-the arm-hoop" dealie. In fact, I used to repeatedly watch that part frame by frame, completely dumbfounded. Finding the name of this song was a pain back in the day, since Google hadn't quite taken over the world at that point. Actually, even now it's a bit of a slog through various sites to determine what song was used in the ad. Getting a hold of it was another matter altogether. But luckily this mp3 has survived a harddrive crash or two, so now you can hear it too.
Fuzzy Haskins - Gettin' it Off

Khaki A-Go-Go.
If you take some ridiculous dance moves and get a group of people to perform them in synch, it somehow seems less ridiculous-- in fact, I daresay cool.
James Clarke - Blow Up a Go-Go!

Khaki Soul.
I get the impression that Bill Withers' songs are shockingly more well known than the guy himself.
Bill Withers - Lovely Day

Khaki Country.
As of a couple days ago, this may have been one of the only videos NOT on YouTube. Someone seems to have rectified that glaring hole in YouTube programming...
Dwight Yoakam - Crazy Little Thing Called Love [originally by Queen]

A couple years ago, Gap released a CD of "Gap Favourites" of various artists performing cover songs. Here are a couple from that CD:
Alanis Morrisette - Crazy [originally by Seal]
Joss Stone - God Only Knows [originally by The Beach Boys]

A quick rant: for two nights in a row on the national news broadcast they've shown clips from youTube videos. First "two otters holding hands" (yes, it's cute) and then Alanis Morrisette's My Humps. With SportsNet devoting a whole little sequence to random youTube videos and even George Stroumboulopoulos getting in on the internet video action, it's starting to get a little out of hand. Most YouTube videos are barely watchable as it is, let alone blown up for chunky TV viewing. My eyes hurt, please stop. Thank you.

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