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5 Clichés of…Time Life Music Infomercials

April 28, 2011

If you’ve ever managed to stay up into the wee hours desperately surfing for something even mildly entertaining – not involving bass fishing or reruns of Silk Stalkings – you’ve probably found yourself unable to turn away from the car wreck otherwise known as Time Life Music infomercials. These brief treks into the craggy terrain of our collective pop music tundra seduce the consumer with their reasonably priced compilation of music you most likely already own or could easily access on YouTube if you were willing to devote that much time to Supertramp’s back catalog. Long ago forgotten musical acts and faded nighttime soap vixens serve as host, inviting you to relive beautiful memories that can be your for three easy credit card payments of $19.95. No CODS!

1. Racially homogenized couples stroll along the beach to slow jams

Time Life music comp infomercials always cut away from the incessant scrolling list of “hits” and inane voiceover blather to offer a glimpse of the romantic adventures awaiting any person who plunks down cashmoney for the product. The couples, who are always heterosexual, mid 30s and outrageously attractive, wear comfy, stylish clothing in beach appropriate fabrics such as linen and wrinkle free cotton as they cling to each other like life rafts. And all of this soft lit frolic is set to Ambrosia’s “How Much I Feel” or Vanessa Williams’s “Dreaming”.

2. For every one “hit” there are five deep cuts you’ve never heard of

As the song titles scroll on loop, a curious trend emerges: there are only a handful of recognizable titles. And the other titles and songs are only recognizable from other Time Life comps they’ve been included on. I mean do I know Karla Bonoff’s “Personally” from top forty radio or from hearing it in Time Life soft rock comp commercials? Who knows! Everyone remembers unforgettable hits such as “Chuck E.’s in Love” and “We Don’t Talk Anymore”! And by everyone, I mean RaymondJ and me.

3. The pitch person is usually a celebrity who ought know better

Nothing says, “The sounds of classic soul…” like Billy Dee Williams propped behind a display of Motown memorabilia borrowed from Fuddruckers while dressed like Orson Welles. There’s not much “smoove” about that. Hate to see that happen to Lando!

4. The announcer’s style of delivery is tailored to the stereotypes associated with the music’s typical fanbase

Anything soul, R&B or “urban” vectored seems to require an announcer who sounds as though he’s – it’s always a dude – imitating Barry White. While Rock and Country announcers appear to have stumbled into the booth from their daytime stints as monster truck pull announcers. SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!!!

5. They only play the most recognizable parts of the song

You might not actually realize “La Bamba” actually has verses if you’ve only heard it briefly played in a Time Life musical comp commercial. Ditto for “Sister Christian”, which has a whole four minutes worth of lyrics other than, “MOTORING, what’s your price for flight!”

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2011 12:55 pm

    These commercials always drove me insane.

    I coined a term for one of their effects: Compilation Dysphoria.

    CD is what happens when a commercial is in such heavy rotation, when you hear “the most recognizable part of the song” elsewhere, you expect the next song from the commercial to burst in.

    Drives me insane.

  2. April 28, 2011 1:01 pm

    when you hear “the most recognizable part of the song” elsewhere, you expect the next song from the commercial to burst in.

    Ha. So true. There was one with Led Zep’s “All of My Love” and I could never hear that song without immediately expecting Steven Tyler to burst in with “Sweet Emotion”!

  3. IrishUp permalink
    April 28, 2011 5:59 pm

    I am cryin ovah heah! This is spot on. The damnable thing is how I WILL get sucked into one ’round 3am.

    @ “Compilation Dysphoria” LOL! Now I know what to call the fact I always expect “… but I’d really like to see you tonight…” to be followed by Dionne Warwick asking why I always hafta be a heart-breaker?

    My sis and I have always wanted to pitch a compilation called “Self Love”.

  4. April 28, 2011 6:11 pm

    Now I know what to call the fact I always expect “… but I’d really like to see you tonight…” to be followed by Dionne Warwick asking why I always hafta be a heart-breaker?

    Ha. I remember that one.

  5. IrishUp permalink
    April 28, 2011 6:35 pm

    The first time you see one, does anyone else watch the title-scroll for the one in the highlight (usually cyan in BOLD) to see which song-bite is being played next? THAT’s what sucks me in.

  6. evmaroon permalink
    April 28, 2011 8:58 pm

    I hate those commercials! And I’m with IrishUp on getting stuck waiting for another title to scroll by. The only thing worse than these ads were the Time-Life book series ads. Thirty volumes on The Civil War, I don’t need.

  7. April 28, 2011 9:05 pm

    Ha. I totally owned this one. I got from Kmart!

  8. evmaroon permalink
    April 29, 2011 12:51 am

    This thread makes me think of this, though I admit it’s a little nonsequiturish:

  9. April 29, 2011 8:46 am

    CD is what happens when a commercial is in such heavy rotation, when you hear “the most recognizable part of the song” elsewhere, you expect the next song from the commercial to burst in.

    I have this! especially around the doo wop love songs, there are a lot of Platters songs I’ve heard more often in Time Life ads then in a commercial.

    My favorite is of course the AM Gold collection. Or the one with Air Supply co-hosting. Wait, maybe that’s the same one.

  10. wefewgfer permalink
    May 17, 2011 11:46 am

    Me neither, says the other, I think it’s the cobblestones

  11. Jim L permalink
    May 21, 2011 10:07 am

    Hey guys, I recently did a parody of these wacky Time Life commercials. If you have 5 minutes, I urge you to check it out! Thanks!!

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