Friday, January 25, 2008

From the BSNYC Culture Desk: Music, Bikes, and Marketing


As a cyclist, it's hard not to feel marginalized sometimes--especially when a giant SUV is running you off the road because its 5'3" driver can't see your head over the top of the passenger door. And when you then see an ad that uses bicycles to sell that very same SUV, chances are you then go from feeling marginalized to feeling just plain insulted. Such is the plight of the cyclist; we're simultaneously marginal and marketable.

Of course, not all marketing ploys involving cycling are quite so contradictory and offensive. Some are simply harmless attempts to appear in step with a current style or trend. Like this video from the band Nada Surf, which was forwarded to me by a reader.

Nada Surf are generally considered an "indie band," which is an apt moniker for a group whose first album was produced by Rik Ocasek of the Cars, released by Elektra Records, and contained the hit single "Popular." So as an idie band, it makes sense that they'd want to do a video which features a messenger on a fixed-gear (played by a professional actor), since many members of their target audience are probably fans of urban fixed-gear riding, and the associated imagery is in line with their own aesthetic. But hey, at least the guy knows how to ride a bike, and at least he's not being made to look like a total idiot, unlike cyclists in most movies. And at least the video's original, right?

Wrong. Actually, this was already done last year by Robin Thicke*, R&B singer and son of Alan Thicke (the Canadian star of "Growing Pains" and host of the unfortunately-titled and extremely short-lived talk show, "Thicke of the Night"). Except unlike the Nada Surf video, the bike is a mountain bike, and Robin Thicke himself is riding it. (At least some of the time.)
*OK, it was actually done in 2002. Thanks for the correction.

Come on, Nada Surf should have realized this video had been done already. A reader forwarded this to me ages ago. Even bikecommuters.com featured it!

Perhaps that's why another "indie" musician, Brooklyn-dwelling Sufjan Stevens (pictured below on what appears to be a fixed-gear bicycle with half a bowling ball on his head) has taken an entirely different tack.




Instead of clamoring for his slice of the bike trend-marketing pie, he's been presenting a "symphonic and cinematic exploration" of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. (For all you out-of-towners, the BQE is strictly cars only.)

Perhaps Nada Surf's next video will feature them stuck in traffic by the Metropolitan Avenue exit, watching the hip and the Hassidim walking to and fro on the overpass.

87 comments:

Anonymous said...

i win
i win
i win

Commiecanuk said...

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

so close again!!

Commiecanuk said...

Wait, anon doesn't count...

Awesome.

You are all my bitches.

I'd like to thank AMGEN and Jack Daniels.

Testing is a violation of my human rights.

Anonymous said...

so close!!!

hugs said...

the actor in that nada surf video is the older pete from the adventures of pete and pete.

i loved that show as a kid (maybe cause iggy pop was on it), and the actor does ride fixed... got his first from a collective in gainesville fl.

Anonymous said...

so close

ZiP said...

haha, great kanye action in the toyota ad.

Anonymous said...

BSNYC, that Robin Thicke video is at least 3-4 years old actually, back when Robin Thicke was marketing himself to the yuppie crowd.

Carloa said...

Okay, I mean 6 years old. 2002.

sigh said...

I am tired of that kanye picture.

mr.complaint said...

I like what SS says about R&R,

“Rock and roll is a museum piece. It has no viability anymore. There are great rock bands today—I love the White Stripes, I love the Raconteurs. But it’s a museum piece. You’re watching the History Channel when you go to these clubs. They’re just reenacting an old sentiment. They’re channeling the ghosts of that era—the Who, punk rock, the Sex Pistols, whatever. It’s been done. The rebellion’s over.”

http://tinyurl.com/ysleb8

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 12:19,

Wow, that old? Thanks!

--BSNYC

Bobbo said...

BS - Thanks for the link. Ya know, the video is pretty good - not overly produces, actor/rider is talented and goes well with the music...I give it an American Bandstand 85

Daniel! said...

Yeah, those fake-indie bands have a lot in common with the fixed crowd. Young actors, too. They love pretending to be poor--they look like they're poor, they act like they're poor, they bitch about social issues that will never effect them... Why can't actual rich people go back to dressing like James Spader in Pretty In Pink? If my act had a hit single, even in the early nineties, every video we'd ever make from then on would have the fisheye lens, numerous sexually-permissive video hoes, big spreads of cash, and instead of track bikes, I'd have a Ferrari and ponies.

Anonymous said...

daniel!:

I completely agree. I've been saying for some time that the dandy movement should "drop" again.

Judi said...

I think if that guy was an actor, he rode really well.

Clayton said...

buh. sufjan stevens.

thehorror_thehorror said...

Mike Marona? At 1:17 in the video he looks more like Mike Berryman

Prolly said...

Kanye West strikes again! Muahhh hhahahahahhaahahh...

Pete Pete said...

every good bike messenger should take a moment out of his tiring day to catch up on daydream mag..

Prolly said...

Next up... Danzig on a fixie.

Polygraf said...

Making me watch a Robin Thicke video and that nada crap kind of ruined my afternoon.
I'm going to go knock over some pylons but I'm going to listen to another soulful crooner-Rick Astely first.

Evershed said...

Duck tales woo oooooh!

OpenYourEyes said...

Having reached the top step two times now, see today and the other day , I have proven that I am ready to make the jump from the CAT 4 yanker to a bona fide blogger commentator CAT 3. But to level the playing field, as commie so adroitly pointed out, my unfair advantage has been to post anonymously. Anonymous postings are for knobs, and I have been a knob. With this admission, I feel as good as Lance will feel when he ever decides to spill the beans... From now on, I propose that whomever has the guts to claim the top spot will have to demonstrate they have read the post, and not be an anon-knob. Anyone feel like they can handle this? Or are you worthless and weak!

Commiecanuk said...

The great thing about Canadian singing/acting talent is that we allow it grow, or fester, to a magnitude of craptacular that we as a small country cannot comprehend, until as a unified whole we conclude, "who really needs this asshole?" and we deport this 'talent' to Americuh.

The size of the US allows for the absorption of more mediocrity. To use an analogy, to clean up a huge pile of vomit, use a mop, not a Q-tip.

Thus, Celine Dion, Alan Thicke (real Canadian name, Alan Thick), Martin Short, (pronounced shorte in Canadian), John Roberts, Shania Twain (Canukie McDouglas), the list goes on and on.

The one exception of course, was James Tiberious Kirk, ripped away from our bosom by you Shatner-stealing Mexico-touchers soon after the "Lucy in the Sky" Album, weeks before it was to be declared our new national anthem.

Who says there were no long term repercussions for the war of 1812?

hobgoblin said...

You are cruel for posting that Robin Thicke video--it's going to take a lot of brain bleach to get those images out of my head. Both of the videos, though, seem to be ripping off that nyc bike messenger race that's been making the rounds for a few years. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au0Zjn3eB9k

leroy said...

Podium, yes!!!

Take that, Anon 12PM and commiecanuck!

Okay, so it's not THE podium.

It's just something I set up on the loading dock near the bike racks at work.

But it's a podium! And people are beginning to notice.

Now excuse me, some folks are saying I have to go get tested.

bjarne said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqWL2VGypZs

One of my favorite bike featured in music video. I know this is really making me look old.

Chunk said...

While I was out the other night the TV at the bar showed an E-Trade commercial set in a dude's living room.

The thing that really tied his room together wasn't a rug but a chrome handlebar tapeless Pista.

Tried to find it online but to no avail...

Michael's Balls said...

Commie Canuck, if you don't win in comments here soon, you're fired. That's team policy.

I can't help if you and your losing ways are keeping the brother down, or in this case the tattooed freakazoids who make up my team, and whom I keep in cages except when racing, training, or commenting on various blogs. And hey, who gives you the right to criticize people with tattoos anyhow? The UCI? USADA? WADA? Fi-Fi-Fo-FADA? I think not. In fact I'm tired of you oppressing us. We don't need your stinking wheels, or your country. We're here to turn bike racing upside down.

Did I mention that I hired Cipo to be a fashion analyst and to advise on blog commenting, as well as to invent wheels and to be wheeled out at various NRC races? Well, I did. So if you don't like it, all I can say is, Ball 3:16, man. Ball 3:16. Don't ask what that means because I don't know yet, but when I figure it out, it'll blow you away, man. You and USCF too.

/s
Michaels Balls
Rook Racing

cwcushman said...

I am surprised that no one mentioned that Thicke is just singing over "A Fifth of Beethoven"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Fifth_of_Beethoven

Clayton said...

mexico-touchers. HA!

dave said...

screw indie rock. the soundtrack of choice for riding in traffic is metal. much like having a red bike, it makes you go faster.

in honor of this insight, look for a crazy left side drive bike locked up outside of tonight's neurosis/mastodon show, and some funny-looking dude riding it to and from said show, really fast.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Dave,

Those two bands need to do a side project called "Neurotic Mastodon."

--BSNYC

mojito said...

music so tawdry that not even bicycles could make it better. nuff said.

ufniahs said...

don't knw if it could be considered a "music video" but it is a video and the music is pretty prevalent,
and it nice to watch on those"i-decided-not-to-ride-b/c-the-weather-was-super-shitty-and-it-turns-out-top-be-nice-later" days.
and the song's dope too

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR2ygFn-yR8

Anonymous said...

michael's ball - best comment of the day, well done!

ufniahs said...

don't know if it could be considered a "music video" but it is a video and the music is pretty prevalent,
and its nice to watch on those"i-decided-not-to-ride-b/c-the-weather-was-super-
shitty-and-it-turns-out-top-be-nice-later" days.
and the song's dope too

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR2ygFn-yR8

Prolly said...

Mastadon were show boating all night and fucking their sets up.

I prefer the sounds of Burzum, Emperor, Averse Sefira and yes :sigh: Gorgoroth.

dave said...

re: neurotic mastodon - it's been done. see trans am and the fucking champs' collabos, "trans champs" and "the fucking am".

no, i'm not kidding. the second one was actually pretty good.

Prolly said...

YES! The Fucking Trans Champs AM collabos are awesome.

dave said...

prolly - emperor is _way_ overrated. i mean ok, "anthems to the welkin at dusk" is pretty good death metal, but "prometheus:..." has no kind of bite, and "IX equilibrium" is just noodly crap with some screaming sound effects for good measure.

my friend has a zippo engraved with burzum's logo, and a picture of a burning church. i love tasteless metal memorabilia.

hooray thread hijacking! yeah so bikes. they're made of metal (usually), thus their soundtrack should be metal.

GhostRider said...

Lucas Brunelle should really get his videographic style copyrighted (if such a thing is possible), because both the Nada Surf and the Thicke video are blatant ripoffs of the classic "NYC Messenger Race" (as someone pointed out earlier).

Nice "head check" on the pedestrians in the first minute of that Nada Surf video, though. "Watch yosevs...bitches!"

Commiecanuk said...

Michael's Balls said...

Commie Canuck, if you don't win in comments here soon, you're fired. That's team policy.


Mickey, do these jeans make my ass look fat?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Dave & Prolly,

Bathory, "Under the Sign of the Black Mark."

--BSNYC

ZZZzzzzzz said...

Yawn.

All those links snooze.

I fell off my bike.

dave said...

holy crap bsnyc is a metalhead! bathory makes my head asplode, in a good way.

y'all are hereby invited down for the high on fire show in wilmington ('cause they foolishly decided not to play philly), with some fine delaware mountain biking before and after.

Anonymous said...

CommieCanuck- You forgot your last lame export from Toronto to Stupornova...

Anonymous said...

from yesterday's post; but this is continuing to crack me up:

http://www.powercranks.com/assets/movies/Diablomoviedsl.mov

" 'dolphin style' pedaling[,] this really works the core"

clearly, it also works a comedy routine for anyone else on the road

M. Weed said...

Yeah Hobgoblin, I was thinking the same thing --- they lifted shots straight out of Lucas Brunelle's videos --- and the fact that it's a Nada Surf video makes me want to gouge my eyes out and listen to nothing but grindcore.

I actually found the NS video to be so much more irritating than the Thicke video, which is so obviously self-parodic as to be funny.

Dave, I agree, metal is for riding. But Neurosis/Mastodon? BSNYC correctly said a while back that Mastodon is "metal for kids who like indie rock" (right on, BSNYC). And sorry, but Neurosis will make you go sloowwwwwww, just like Isis or any of the other "post-metal" bands.

The best riding music: Meshuggah!

datamonkey said...

I guess one of the most rewarding things about living in the wind-swept and frozen hinterlands of Wyoming(besides the majestic beauty, cheap housing, and ample parking) is that we are often spared the punishment of so-called cultural innovations such as fixed geared bicycles without brakes, polo of any kind, crappy indie rock bands,and drinking PBR to look cool(in WY Bud is the expensive stuff). Nor do we engage in discussions regarding bike related fashion or the impact of bicycle related imagery in advertising on bike culture. In fact I don't think I have ever heard anybody here use the words bike and culture in the same sentence. There is no movement or scene. So thank you snob for reminding me that being "backwards" is actually forward and thank you for the peek into the fancy world of nada surf and alan thick.

M. Weed said...

Dave & Prolly,

For the love of Gall...!

Emperor is just as self-parodic as Thicke. They have nine dudes on stage, and one of them is just there to wave a fake 6-foot sword!

BSNYC/Bathory FTW

Prolly said...

Burzum's Jesus' Tod FTW

Clayton said...

my favorite riding music is undoubtedly whitney houston. i can actually ride over cars when i listen to "i wanna dance with somebody."

Bluenoser said...

Hey Snob,

Due to the writers strike really bad shows are making the primetime up here now.

Allan Thicke is back. On a show called jPod.

I turned it off after Allan appeared wearing a bra outside his t like the M-woman queen of the world.

-B

OpenYourEyes said...

I had no idea that on God's Green Earth there was anyone except isolated, disempowered children of the suburbs that listened to any of that crap. For you New Yorkers, you live in one of the seats of culture in THE WORLD, THE WORLD mind you, and you subject yourselves to that?
And if that's the best you can do for riding music, my God, what do you listen to while raping and pillaging?

M. Weed said...

openyoureyes,

For pillaging, Hewhocorrupts and Pig Destroyer work nicely.

Daniel! said...

The best riding music: Meshuggah!

No, way, man: that's overdoing it. It's like this:

Meshuggah

Darkthrone

Just keep everything plain and simple, I say.

Anonymous said...

And if that's the best you can do for riding music, my God, what do you listen to while raping and pillaging?

Korn....duh.

BikeSnobNYC said...

openyoureyes,

Do you mean culture like Sufjan Stevens' musical tribute to the BQE?

I hope he does the Jackie Robinson Parkway (formerly the Interboro) next. It's surely one of New York's least-heralded automotive thoroughfares.

--BSNYC

M. Weed said...

Daniel,

That first picture is more like what would happen if Grant Peterson started listening to Meshuggah. Regardless, it still looks more laterally stiff and vertically compliant than the Darkthrone bike.

Austin said...

The new Pig Destroyer was my soundtrack at work (jimmy johns delivery) last summer.

mr.complaint said...

Snob,

You listen to Sufjan Stevens while raping and pillaging?

I still listen to MC5 and Iggy. I'm sedimental that way...

Culcha.

Polygraf said...

Rode in this mornin(with much regret) to:
Clutch and Ringworm, riding is the only time I can tolerate suburban white boy post teenage angst from places like virginy.
Bring it

Daniel! said...

Regardless, it still looks more laterally stiff and vertically compliant than the Darkthrone bike.

Ture, but if you somehow rode the Darkthrone bike, it would actually sound like Darkthrone (if your sweatshirt was rubbing against the rear wheel and a bird flew into the spokes.)

Anonymous said...

Vid made my day. I can't imagine how many days of riding that video required.

Did a tv show once where I was part of a traffic scene where we had to block Danny D'Allio from crossing the street to catch the bad guy. They made us go back and forth all day to get the shot 'just right'... well they kept this up until I got sick of it and decided to make it look really right and ran him over. Which makes my bacon quotient 3.

Anonymous said...

Hey snobstalkers: Last Friday's purported bikesnob photo = unstylish cuffed jeans. Today's post of Sutijan Stevens = unstylish cuffed jeans. Bike Snob = Sutijan Stevens?

Anonymous said...

Yah...
IGGY INTERVALS
"NEW VALUES".......
"I wish life could be..."

Anonymous said...

does anyone ells ride to coheed & Cambria?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey snobstalkers: Last Friday's purported bikesnob photo = unstylish cuffed jeans. Today's post of Sutijan Stevens = unstylish cuffed jeans. Bike Snob = Sutijan Stevens?


also note the similar bars

we're onto you

Anonymous said...

The term "riding music" makes me think of "extreme" sports and over-stimulated children with shelves full of trophys "earned" by being driven to after school activities.

Anonymous said...

Snobstalkers, does anyone know whether Sufjan Stevens subscribes to Newsweek Magazine? BTW, what the hell kind of name is Sufjan, anyways?
Anon 4:04

Anonymous said...

"Such is the plight of the cyclist; we're simultaneously marginal and marketable" - we are not alone in this by any means...

Anonymous said...

Dave, if you listen to metal b/c your bike is metal, what do I listen to if my bike is carbon fiber? ABBA? Hawthorne Heights? Question Mark and the Mysterions?

Anonymous said...

It does not matter how well the actor in the video rides....Nada Surf SUCKS ASS!!! If that is indie rick, I'll stick to punk.
And for the other video, Justin Timberlake looks ever more like a fruitcake with that long hair.
Damn, I am glad I dont live in NYC.

bikesgonewild said...

...bikesnob..."simultaneously marginal & marketable"...

...astute comment, beyond the humor...

...while everyone is railing against how often cycling's various lifestyles are utilized to sell fluff & dog food, there was a time many years ago when the occasional inclusion of a bicycle in an unrelated ad, offered hope that the general public might develop a better awareness of cycling...

...hell, i was foolish & naive enough to think it might bode well for a safer riding environment...duh on me...

...btw...frank sinatra sucks to ride to...too much groovin'...do be do be doo...

dirtyfuzz said...

Actually, my friends in Dead To Me made a video a couple years ago riding their fixies around San Francisco. Caution: tight pants and awesome music abound. http://www.fatwreck.com/video_track/lowres_video/31/DTMSpecialProfessional.mov

Poppy said...

I just an ad for Etrade with some day-trading dumbass rambling on about some kind a bulshit and Lo and behold in the background is ...
wait for it...
a fixed gear.
with...
no bar tape.
This guy looks like he couldn't catch the bus wavin' a fifty.

Nick said...

hugs mentioned IGGY!!! That my friends is so very important. So, so very important.

Nick

Anonymous said...

Lars Tribus was the stunt double for Thicke

dennis said...

...bikesnob...great blog reading for a rainy day down south here...btw, Lance is coming to NOLA this week to speak, and hang out...

...bikesgonewild... reference to sinatra grovin' as riding music that sucks...do be do be do...agreeded...
just saw a decal of his face on a porsche race car @ daytona 24hrs.

always a good read and laugh...just saying..

Fiji Rick said...

The Nada Surf video is great - it captures the total mobility of the cycling mode, the camaradarie, the hazards (at least for road riders), the mechanics of the machine - while the song tells the story of a search for freedom.

This video got me off my Internet-surfing butt and onto the saddle for an unscripted ride around the shuttered Marine Corps Air Station El Toro...my trip included rolling my wheels on concrete formerly reserved for F-18/A's.

You had to be there...

cinzano2001 said...

Sadly ironic that a band who's video features a fixie cyclist is so pedestrian.

So that's the state of prefab indie rock these days eh?!

I'll stick with Lloyd Cole, thanks.

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