In Praise of Pomplamoose
Seems like jewelry and auto manufacturers really spend advertising dough during December. I can’t get through a college or pro football game these days without seeing pitches from Kay Jewelers, Jared — “The Galleria of Jewelry” — Acura or Hyundai.
Sorry — I’m not in the market for diamonds or distributor caps this year.
I try to leave the room for all commercials, but I’ve been sticking around for the Hyundai holiday ads. Maybe you’ve seen them — these 30-second spots feature two young, 20-something people singing Christmas songs like “Up on the Rooftop,” “Deck the Halls” and “Jingle Bells” in this odd, screwball style. The singer, a young woman with a short pixie-style haircut, sings in kind of a detached, emotionless style. Her partner, who plays drums and keyboards, makes odd faces and sort of runs around the set — and the new Hyundai Sonata — like a maniac.
At first, I thought Hyundai had just pulled two actors off the street and told them to horse around and sing Christmas songs. But the more I saw the ads, I started to think these musicians must “be” somebody.
I was right. The couple are really the California-based, independent rock duo “Pomplamoose,” and they “are” somebody on the file-sharing site YouTube. Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn both play several instruments, and cover songs that have already been released by other artists. They’ve got a bunch out there, including Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” and Julie Andrews’ “My Favorite Things.”
And their homemade videos put two or three blocks of video on one screen; kind of like the sort-of-famous checkerboard opening to “Mannix,” one of my favorite cop shows from the 1960s and 1970s.
You can check out the musicians in this short clip swiped from YouTube. It’s Lady Gaga’s “Telephone,” and it’s kind of a catchy tune. Like most of Jack’s and Nataly’s videos, it looks like it was shot in their living room. And 5,786,273 hits had been recorded on just this one song as of Tuesday. No wonder the ad guys from Hyundai signed them up. Click HERE.
Probably the first time Pomplamoose and Joe Mannix have come up in the same story. But in just 30 minutes of research, I kind of liked the musicians’ act. Vocalist Nataly sings in this ethereal style. But she has a nice, clear voice that some fans have described as “enchanting,” “awesome” and “amaaaaazing.” Energetic percussionist and xylophone player Jack takes care of all the comedy.
So they’ve really taken a page out of the Sparks playbook. People who remember the 1970s might remember Sparks, art rocker brothers Ron and Russell Mael. They used the same gimmick — singer Russell out of control, keyboardist Ron bored out of his mind. And who else wore a Hitler moustache during the ’70s?
Now we have Pomplamoose, Mannix and Sparks, all in one place. Got to be a record.
I guess both Hyundai and Pomplamoose come out winners this December. The ads may not help Hyundai sell any more cars — even if I was going to buy new wheels, they would not come from Hyundai — but the commercials are done in the same, multi-pix style as the videos. Jack and Nataly say they were given complete artistic freedom, so Hyundai looks kind of hip, kind of happening.
Jack and Nataly get holiday bonus checks. Seeing how they sold 100,000 songs via digital download over the Internet in 2009, I don’t think they’re starving. But hey, these are hard times.
Actually, I’m hoping Billy Fuccillo hires them next. With Pomplamoose already in Hyundai’s corner, Jack and Nataly might give Hyundai king Billy a hand with his TV commercials!
Not that Billy actually needs it, of course.