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Beyoncé Releases A Song Instead Of An Advert

Is that a good or bad thing?

by sam wolfson
21 May 2013, 1:18pm

Daft Punk. Beyoncé. Daft Punk. Beyoncé. Daft Punk. Beyoncé. By August the whole internet will just be those three words, repeated forever like a prophecy written by a lazy monk. Never have two artists commanded the conversation with an unrelenting omnipresence. Every after-work pub chat, overheard rant from the back of the bus bore and 7am platonic spoon is about them. Which is crazy when you think that until Monday neither act had released an album or a proper music video. Most of this hurricane of comment, backlash and retort has been sparked not by songs, but commercials, repeated and written about to the point of ad nausea.

Beyonce’s has now released three global commercials - for O2, Pepsi and H&M – each of which featured brief snippets of new music but were mostly just her wiggling about a bit while Robert Webb, or whoever does calming advert voiceovers in your territory, told you to buy something. Daft Punk’s adverts were at least, for Daft Punk, but they were still adverts.

Some people have been a bit snotty about this, but who’s to say the 30 second spot is any less valid format than the three minute pop song. Certainly Daft Punk have innovated far more spectacularly in their ability to promote a record than any artist in recent memory, so much so that people at an IRL music festival with real life performers, or watching the Oscar winning film The Social Network on Channel 4 on Sunday night, only lost their shit when Daft Punk’s advert came on.

To watch this advert I had to watch another, lesser, advert before it. That's how good an advert it is.

Daft Punk finally released their record this week, which I guess made Beyoncé have second thoughts about going on a international comeback tour with one crazy blog track and a bottle of Pepsi Max to her name. So while we don’t have a track from the actual Beyoncé album, there is a new track from The Dream’s album which is basically just a Beyonce song but probably a bit better because it features 2 Chainz is on it and it didn’t have to be approved by the 167 people who stand between Beyonce making music and Columbia releasing it.

Confusingly, the full version of the song that was on the Pepsi advert has also been released. This song is also produced by The Dream, but is supposed to be on Beyoncé’s album but might not be because no one really knows what’s going on. Basically Beyonce has spent the past five months going “YEAH, SORRY, IT’S ALMOST FINISHED, THERE’S JUST THE ONE THING I NEED TO CHANGE, BE WITH YOU IN 10” like a fucking freelance journalist. In fact everytime we embed a version of it on this blog it gets taken down so maybe they don't even want us to know about it. This campaign is turning into a bit of a clusterfuck.

So the advert isn’t replacing the song, but it’s definitely becoming a proper format for musicians. Artists can no longer get away with 30 seconds of Zane Lowe shouting "THE ANTICIPATED DEBUT ALBUM" over their music video and then shove a Tesco logo on the end so that they'll pay for it. With Kanye aping Daft Punk’s Coachella vibes and broadcasting his face on trendy buildings around the world, a lot of artists will be rethinking their campaigns. The same way TV had to figure out how to do things in three minutes to work on Youtube, music is going to have be clever in a shorter, more commercial, space than a music video.

Until everyone gets on board, though, some music adverts are still going to look like this.

Follow Sam Wolfson on Twitter @samwolfson