SELLOUT: Stephin Merritt allows Volvo to drive away with his integrity

Posted September 17th, 2007 by Eric Greenwood · 19 Comments

Nooooooo. Jesus, people are selling out left and right. Stephin Merritt’s baritone nonchalantly breezes through this nursery rhyme tune, replete with sarcastic intonation, but that hardly makes up for the egregious error in judgment. (via idolator)

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19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 K // Sep 18, 2007 at 11:23 am

    jesus. STEPHIN! WTF?! I was just listening to Fear of Trains the other day and thinking about how much I loved The Magnetic Fields. This makes me want to cry.

  • 2 patrick // Sep 18, 2007 at 11:51 am

    So who wins the award for Biggest Sellout: Band of Horses? Stephen Merritt? Wilco? The Buzzcocks? Who has the biggest fall from good graces?

  • 3 Rob // Sep 18, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    Sooooo. Wanting to make money off of the only commodity you have equals sellout? To me it equals getting paid. I have never understood this concept that musicians “sell out” when they make money. Is it because Volvo is the “man” or an “earth killing greedy corporation”? Whatever. Not everyone wants to live like a Bohemian monk working at a granola bakery/bistro. It might be weird to hear your fave band in a commercial, but it’s not the end of the world. Get a life. I just saw an Erasure song being used to promote the soap opera “Passions”, and the world did not end. I am from Portland, OR and we have our share of folks that rail against “sellouts”. It’s very interesting in that the majority of them are also poor……hmmmmm. Interesting indeed. I think I will go chill to some Future Bible Heroes….

  • 4 Jonboy // Sep 18, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    Calm yourselves, indignant indies. Steve needed some cash. He’ll continue to make beautiful and interesting melodies for your earpleasure. You wouldn’t sing a nursery song for a free car with a trunk full of cash? Yes you would.

  • 5 K // Sep 21, 2007 at 1:58 am

    Pat, I’d say Stephin wins, according to this site:

    “TMF’s “I Think I Need A New Heart” was used (and still running, i believe) for Cesar dog food; when “Boa Constrictor” was used for Ivory; when “Dessert Island” was used for (insert brand) alcohol(rum?); “Kiss Me Like You Mean It” used for diamonds; etc…”

    I watched that Volvo commercial again. I think I need a new esophagus.

  • 6 tivoli // Sep 25, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    I assume nobody upset about this has ever illegally downloaded any music.

  • 7 K // Sep 25, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    I actually own every single Album, EP, 7″, etc. that Stephin Merritt put out before 2005. Does that not entitle me to at least being upset that one of my idols is singing in a fucking so-ironic-it’s-no-longer-ironic-but-just-sad volvo commercial?

  • 8 tivoli // Sep 26, 2007 at 10:30 am

    I think Stephin’s entitled to make a living off his music, which gets harder and harder nowadays. It’s great that you’ve bought everything of his, but lots of people download music for free, and he’s probably already spent his 7″ single royalties and he’s gotta eat. He’s not even singing one of his own songs, so it’s not like you can’t hear your favorite Stephin song without thinking of Volvo.
    Only Alanis would call that “ironic.”

  • 9 K // Sep 26, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    I think what rubs me the wrong way about the Volvo spot is that it is just plain bad. Had Stephin written a biting commentary on Volvo drivers loosely veiled by his baritone and references to the moon and trains and such, I might be able to overlook it.

    That said, it’s not like I’m going to stop liking the guy’s music cause he sold out to Volvo.

  • 10 Eric Greenwood // Sep 26, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    amen, kerry.

  • 11 tivoli // Sep 26, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    I actually thought the song was lame on purpose. That is, he’s not willing to give Volvo something gorgeous, just a jingle somewhere along the lines of “Jingle Bells, Batman smells.” (No way would Volvo air a biting commentary.) But maybe I’m so big a TMF fan that I’m too willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  • 12 Logan Young // Sep 26, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    it always stings a bit when you discover someone you care about has let you down. when you connect so strongly with an artist its easy – perhaps even required – to feel personally disgraced. i know i do. but part of loving a band, i think, is learning how to deal with the inevitable disappointment they’re gonna give you at some point in their career. sooner or later everyone’s gonna deliver their own version of “slow train coming.”

  • 13 Eric Greenwood // Sep 26, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    true, true. unless they pull an ian curtis and die before they start to suck.

  • 14 Logan Young // Sep 26, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    true, true. but isn’t hanging yourself – no matter your situation – grounds for a wag of the finger? yeah, life’s tough. and most of the time it’s a real bitch. but both he and cobain had kids and families. i’m not one to try and delve into another man’s heart (or anus) and try to divine some sort of reason for why he killed himself. it was by far the best career move either party could have ever made – no doubt. the headlines virtually write themselves: “Torn Apart By Love, Singer Watches Herzog and Strangles Himself” or “The Guy Who Wrote ‘I Hate Myself and I Want To Die’ Finally Blew His Brains Out.” suicide – while it makes all kinds of existential sense i suppose – is at least grounds for some sort of disapproval. shit, if it didn’t, i would’ve done it long ago prolly. but then again, you kill yourself, you gay.

  • 15 tivoli // Sep 26, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    I always thought the Go-Betweens managed to pull it off without sucking.

  • 16 rex // Sep 27, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    Y’know, it’s such an easy thing to be a hater and accuse someone of being a sellout when you haven’t a clue what it’s like to be in their shoes. There is no doubt that most of you haters would be peeing all over yourself if your crappy band was asked to be in a car commercial.

  • 17 K // Sep 27, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    Rex, sir, you’re missing the point. A crappy band can’t technically “Sell Out” by scoring a Car commercial. In fact that crappy band might get a ride all the way to the bank.

    Only a band or in this case a musician with an impressive oeuvre and history of artistic integrity can truly Sell Out.

    And who uses the label “haters” in a discussion about indiepop icons? We’re talking about Stephin “motherfucking” Merritt, not Tupac.

  • 18 Oliver Chesler // Oct 20, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    I recently wrote and article you may like about The Magnetic Fields and Stephin Merritt: http://www.wiretotheear.com/2007/10/20/the-magnetic-fields-and-stephin-merritt/

  • 19 Stuart // Nov 5, 2007 at 11:56 am

    And what are all of you doing to fight the capitalist consumer complex?

    Love the sausage–don’t want to know how it’s made.

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