One of the great things about the 80s for me was the show Miami Vice. At its heart, it was another cop show, but one with a certain style. At one point during the show’s run, my friends and I would watch the show before we would go out for the evening. That usually meant that we wouldn’t even step out until almost 11 on a Friday night.
The show’s style was influenced by MTV, which through music videos would prove to have an influence on television shows and commercials. Some of that visual flash even found its way to beer commercials. Two of the ones I remember the best were done by Michelob and featured 80s hits from Genesis and Steve Winwood.
Forgive me for the horrible audio. “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” by Genesis was the fourth single from their monster album from 1986, Invisible Touch. Five singles were released from the album and all five would peak in the top 4 of the Hot 100; this one made it to #3. Genesis was one of the biggest groups of the decade, racking up fifteen Hot 100 singles in the decade, but Invisible Touch and its singles were the band’s biggest successes. Surely a great deal of the band’s success dovetailed with the success that Phil Collins was having in his solo career. His No Jacket Required album was released the year before and was a huge success as well.
With the way that songs are now used in commercials, I wonder if “selling out” was a concern back then. I seem to remember it being more of one then than it is now, and it certainly was before the release of this song. However, Michelob was a tour sponsor, so it would seem to be natural marketing at work.
A couple years later, Michelob also sponsored Steve Winwood’s tour following the release of his album Roll With It. The brand used his second single from the album, “Don’t You Know What The Night Can Do” in ads. A lot of the same visual style can be seen in this one as well (again the audio is awful).
The single made it to #6 on the Hot 100 in the summer of 1988. The 80s were very good to Steve Winwood as well. After years of being the lead in bands like the Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith and Traffic, Winwood went solo in 1977. He tasted solo success with his Arc Of A Diver album, with the single “While You See A Chance,” but his greatest success occurred in 1986 with his Back In The High Life album. His lead single from that album, “Higher Love,” hit #1 that year and won Record Of The Year and Best Pop Male Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards. It also featured an uncredited Chaka Khan on background vocals.
Were Genesis and Winwood sellouts? Or was it a mutually beneficial deal for both sides? Now, I don’t know that it matters, since pop music figures in so many advertisements. No matter what you think of that particular debate, these were two memorable songs from the 1980s. Leave your thoughts about the issue and/or the songs in the comments.