A while back I did a Cashing In post on the New Pornographers' "The Bleeding Heart Show" being used in a commercial for the University of Phoenix. In an interview today with Pitchfork, frontman Carl Newman talks about how the deal went down:
Pitchfork: I saw an ad for one of those quasi-legit universities, the University of Phoenix, and it happened to have a song of yours in the background.
Carl Newman: Yeah, I know. It's weird, isn't it?
Pitchfork: What's the deal with that?
Carl Newman: It's one of those things that just, you get a call, and somebody said "hey, the University of Phoenix wants to use the end of "Bleeding Heart Show" in a commercial." And I thought, "eh, fair enough." And I really honestly didn't know that University of Phoenix was a huge online university. I actually thought it was, like, the University of Phoenix; like, every city has its big university, you know? And I thought, "oh, it'll show in the Southwest." It seemed kind of odd to me, like, I've never heard of a university having a TV commercial, but I thought, oh well. All of a sudden, people started saying "I saw your commercial during 'Saturday Night Live'" or "I saw your commercial during 'American Idol'," and I thought, "what the hell is up with that?" Then I began to realize that, well, I guess we inadvertently signed up to be in a big commercial. How about that?
Pitchfork: Does it seem odd to be connected with a sketchy university?
Carl Newman: You know, if University of Phoenix is some kind of scam, then I suppose I'd feel kind of stupid for being a part of it, but you know, I can't really say that I have much of an opinion, you know? It's a university, or a school, and it might be a crappy school, but it seems like letting a crappy school use your song is probably better than letting the best business use your song. I'm not overly political, but if Wal-Mart wanted to use the song, I would just go, "fuck off, no chance in hell." But for a lot of other things, I'm not so precious about our music. A lot of work went into it-- you record your song and you mix it and you put it out and it's there in the world, and as for the rest of it, I can't really stop people from doing with it what they want. Songs always mean the same thing to me regardless of whether they're in a commercial or playing in the background on "The Office" or whatever. I don't really have any... I'm kind of shocked that I have to talk about it.
One thing that made me feel better was, right around the time that commercial started showing up, there was also the Outback Steakhouse commercial with Of Montreal in it. And I thought, "thank God, that's really going to deflect some attention away from us." At least we didn't give our song to Outback. Now I'm afraid if I accidentally say something about the University of Phoenix that a hammer is going to come down on my head, or I'll find myself in a lawsuit. My official stance is, "I fully support the University of Phoenix," but to back that, I honestly didn't know what it was. But then again, if I did know what it was, I'm not sure that I would have said no. We're just trying to get by in this world. When you play music for so long and don't make any money, and people start offering you money for things that involve no effort on your part, you start going, "I'll do that."
Pitchfork interview with Carl Newman
Cashing In: The New Pornographers