Lou Reed Being Used to Sell PS4s

11/19/2013 10:42 AM |

Lou Reed Perfect Day PS4 commercial
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  • RIP, Lou Reed

The Playstation 4 gaming system recently hit shelves, and the ad promoting it, which debuted last month shortly before Lou Reed died, features one of the musician’s most popular and best-loved songs. In fact, as soon as you hear the opening strains of “Perfect Day” in the spot, it’s hard not to think of the icon and his recent death, but just in case you don’t make the connection right away, the minute-long spot (abbreviated when shown on television and Internet-streaming sites) is full of death and indiscriminate destruction: armored warriors kill each other on a battlefield, race cars try to run each other off the road, and heavy machinery engages in decimating, futuristic urban warfare. The best way to sell virtual killing? The recent memory of someone who actually died! O the serendipities of advertising.

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What, think I’m exaggerating? “Sony and New York ad agency BBH recognized the song’s celebration of sedated pleasure as well as its dark undertone with their commercial. In it, buddies place themselves in their PS4 games and sing Reed’s single as they happily destroy each other,” Business Insider reports. “The campaign actually premiered right before Reed died in October, but the rock star’s death may actually make the ad more relevant due to the surging popularity of Reed’s work.” More relevant? Good god, man.

It’s not the first time the song has been used in a commercial: AT&T used it during the 2010 Olympics, as have trailers for Downton Abbey and the recent horror movie You’re Next. And it’s been featured on various soundtracks, most notably Trainspotting‘s. Lou Reed wasn’t stingy with the tune: when licensing issues prevented Susan Boyle from performing the song on reality television (so said Reed; she said it was him), he made sure she could include the song on her album—and even helped with the music video. It’s been covered by other people, as well.

So it’s not as though the song is some untouchable, uncommercializable sacred object. But to see it used so soon and so gracelessly after his death is distasteful, a major bummer, making a song that usually reminds me of walking around Central Park on a sunny afternoon (or heroin? No, usually Central Park), or of what Lou Reed meant to music and also to New York, instead a reminder of explosions and mayhem and crass commercialism. Why can’t we ever respect basic human decency if it conflicts with The Bottom Line?

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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