The The
The The

Maybe it’s not the evil omen it seems to be. Maybe it’s actually a sign that even the most obscure outsider can be embraced if the time is right. But I tend toward pessimism, so I’m concerned. Continuing the terrifying trend exemplified by the use of Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” – a record about a pill-popping trannie – to sell SUVs, and of Iggy’s “Lust for Life” to advertise family-friendly luxury cruise ships, M&Ms has designed their latest commercial around “This is the Day” by The The. The spot is actually kind of creepy, suggesting that deep down inside, all of us are really anthropomorphic chocolate candies masquerading as human beings. However, I still don’t think it’s truly in the spirit of the tune, which, like many of the band’s songs, lays a cheerful or energetic melody over lyrics that are ironic, depressing, or just plain nasty:

You pull back the curtain
And the sun burns into your eyes
You watch a plane go flying
Across a clear blue sky
This is the day – your life will surely change
This is the day – when things fall into place

In other words, “You’re stuck in a vortex of unfulfilled dreams and self-defeating behavior.”

At least Matt Johnson – a.k.a. the only real member of The The, with an assist from Johnny Marr – is making bank on this commercial. I owe him a lot, particularly as regards his 1989 album MIND BOMB, which introduced me to a lot of the twisted sexual themes I would be exposed to on a regular basis as an English/theater double major in college. I asked my parents to buy me the cassette for Christmas that year, which, being fairly open-minded, they did. However, I do recall my father pointing to the album cover – a white field with Johnson’s bald, disembodied monochromatic head staring out from it – and remarking, “He looks rather severe.”

When I finally met a guy who wanted to have sex with me, it turned out that he, too, was a fan of The The. On one of the mix tapes he made in order to seduce me, he included the oh-so-life-affirming “Out of the Blue (Into the Fire)”:

She was lying on her back
With her lips parted
Squealing like a stuffed pig
I was going through the motions
Faking the emotions,
And wriggling around like lizard in a tin…

(Shouldn’t that be “stuck pig”?)

It may be ugly, but what can I say? If loving filthy, degrading music is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

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