There’s an oddity sitting in my CD player right now. It’s a promotional CD from Volkswagen that they give you when you buy a new car. I snagged it out of a press evaluation car because I figured it might have some decent tunes on it, you know, stuff from their commercials: “Mr. Roboto” or that Da-Dah-Dah-Dah song. Or some cool mainstream techno like Daft Punk or Chemical Bros. Well, no dice; with the exception of a yet another cover of The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now” (soon to rival even “Yesterday” as the most covered song of all time), it pretty much sucks. But I’m not surprised, and that’s not what this piece is about because no one needs to read my explanation of why the Bare Naked Ladies blow. You already know that. (Unless, of course, you’re the type of person who discovered the bad club music of Submarine by buying a Passat, in which case you’re just pathetic and the point herein will be lost on you.)
(Okay, while I’m being parenthetical I’ve got to admit to liking that one Bare Naked Ladies song about the old apartment, but that’s just because I’m always a sucker for any song about heartache. Yeah, I know that makes me pathetic, but all anyone has to do is sing “I want her/him back” or “And I miss her/him/you/etc.” and I’m hooked. Call it Hank Williams syndrome. But, I digress.)
So my issue is not with the music on the CD sucking, as much as what the music on the CD reflects what VW thinks about its customers. Now I’m not naive enough to think that my local dealership is going to hook me up with the new Outkast disc or give me my choice between the International Submarine Band and P-Funk’s greatest hits. But a disc that’s entirely full of forgettable white pop toe tappers that one might hear on any corporate “alternative” radio station is unconscionable. Do the dumb fucks in Auburn Hills (VW of America, Hamlin Rd., 48326) really think that their customer base is as cookie-cutter homogenous as that? Or do they just really want the customer base to be that way? Is there not enough room on the sampler for a single hip-hop track or one pop-ified country crossover? What about a nice easy listening smooth jazz cut? I mean, the disc could still be as banal and inoffensive and awful, but at least try for a little more variety!
I’ve got no problem with VW’s cars. I’ve got no problem with VW’s advertising. But the marketing fool who put together this compilation for them needs to be kicked repeatedly.
I once owned an Oldsmobile, given to me by my grandmother appropriately enough. And with it came a sampler cassette (yes, this was pre-CD) that contained music that Olds, correctly, figured its customers might like to listen to. And it was good; this coming from someone who, at age 21, was a good 34 years too young to be part of the Olds demographic. Sure, I didn’t like all of the music on it, but there was enough variety (even some classical cuts—those being the ones that I used to fast forward through) to keep it interesting. And yes, it was lacking the heavy metal and the rap that I was into at the time, but I recall there was one catchy R&B song and a nice female country crooner whose name escapes me, but whose song did make it onto a few of my mix tapes from the era.
The point is that diversity is good. It spreads ideas and styles and creates understanding. And it might even help you sell a few more cars.