When Of Montreal’s ad for T-Mobile came on during last night’s American Music Awards, my initial reaction was along the lines of, “What music-blogger hell did this crawl out of?” And it still stands. I mean, reunion-show jokes? Band meetings that are conducted in fancy-ass hotel rooms while Kevin Barnes and Co. are in full stage makeup? I’m going to hazard a guess that most of the Daughtry fans watching the show didn’t realize that Of Montreal is, you know, an actual working band with records out, especially with the feather-flying celebration at the ad’s end.
In any case, Barnes penned a colorful defense of his band appearing in this ad–and that Outback spot a few months ago–for Stereogum, in which he throws down the generational gauntlet and says that punk rock basically screwed up everyone’s idea of what the “right” way to make a living is. And while I can see his point as far as getting paid–those six seconds of “Gronlandic Edit” will probably make more money for him and his bandmates than any show–I have to wonder whether or not this commercial will do anything for him and his band as far as awareness goes. (I’ve also wondered the same thing every time one of those Wilco VW ads has come on, because while they sound really great in the context of crappy sports-broadcast commercial breaks, there’s almost no identifying of the song itself.) Or has the shattering of the mass music market made crossover impossible for anyone who isn’t borne from the American Idol stable, a new truth that’s further proven by last night’s American Music Awards results?