The current Apple MacBook Air ad features a song called "New Soul," by Israeli singer Yael Naim. It's a charming number, as you'll see in the YouTube video at the bottom of this post. It's funny; I now consider the debut of a new Apple commercial more important than the introduction of its latest piece of uber-cool, overpriced hardware. I'm unlikely to buy the latter, but I rush to check out the music spotlighted in the former.
That's what I was poised to do when I first heard the MacBook Air ad, though I erroneously thought the song must be by the Brazilian power-pop group Cansei de Ser Sexy. CSS, as they're better known, does a song called "Off the Hook" (video below), which has a vocal sound that's pretty similar to "New Soul."
"Off The Hook" is sung by CSS lead vocalist Luisa Hanae Matsushita, a Brazilian of Japanese descent, who goes by the understandably more accessible stage name Lovefoxx. Listen to her enunciate a word like "statues" in "Off the Hook"; I never realized that English sung as a second language could yield such wonderful vocal colorations. Yael Naim has the same stuff going on in "New Soul."
OK, now I've morphed a bit too far from my original plan, which was to talk about Apple's status as both an arbiter and definer of cutting-edge culture. And, yes, I realize that Steve Jobs doesn't pick out the music for his commercials himself, but he clearly inspires enough fear in his ad agency that they'll never come back with something as hack-like as a Rolling Stones-scored commercial.
Consider that at most companies, they'd simply designate a chief coolness officer, she'd pick something unhip -- Sammy Hagar doing "I Can't Drive 55," maybe? -- and then everybody'd have to fall into line or be considered unteamlike. Luckily for Jobs, his picture is in the dictionary next to "unteamlike," and he presides over a publicly traded company as a dictatorship of one.
Here now are five videos: Yael Naim's full video for "New Soul" (check out that Beatlesque horn stuff in the background), the MacBook Air commercial, CSS doing "Off the Hook," (both studio and live), and, for old time's sake, Feist's great "1234."
Yael Naim singing "New Soul" (full version):
MacBook Air TV Commercial:
CSS doing "Off the Hook" (studio version):
CSS doing "Off the Hook" live:
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