Kesha teams with her brother and McCann to get the vote out.
The Rube Goldberg machine has been a staple of light-hearted music videos and ads. However, Kesha, working with her younger brother Sage Sebert and on-the-rise rapper Chika, used the technique for very different reasons—and to stunning effect— to highlight the scourge of gun violence and encourage people to vote in this year’s midterm elections.
Created by McCann in partnership with the students leading March for Our Lives and Mill+, “Safe,” is an incredibly powerful way of unpacking the human toll that gun violence has in America, especially in schools.
What starts as a typical day at school suddenly turns chaotic as a hail of gunfire erupts in slow motion. The camera follows a pathway of teachers pushing students into classrooms, machines symbolizing the predictable “thoughts and prayers” that occur after shootings, memorials of victims (from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Pulse nightclub shootings, and everyday gun violence in Chicago), posters imploring change and more.
What’s most interesting about the video is that it doesn’t play just once but three times. While each version is essentially the same, there are added elements that tell a more specific story. One version includes the names of victims and in each. In each iteration, posters that drop from the ceilings become more direct in demanding action by politicians and imploring people to vote.
"United, our voices are more powerful, and now we want to ask you to be part of this movement with us."
In this op-ed, singer-songwriter Kesha explains why she teamed up with March for Our Lives and rapper Chika to fight gun violence.
When I was growing up in school we had mandatory fire drills, we had mandatory tornado drills living in Tennessee, but we never had something that my nephew now has in his public elementary school: mandatory active shooter drills.
The first school shooting in my memory happened at Columbine. I was 12 years old and remember feeling as if the world was crumbling. I thought it was a freak accident, it must be. I thought this school shooting was something we would all read about in history books as a solitary, horrifying event in our country. One that every American family could understand was an earthquake to the core of our very foundation: our children. I assumed we would rally together, and it would never happen again. It couldn’t happen again, something so horrific wreaking havoc on one of the safest, traditionally mundane, and yet mandatory places: a school. But, here we are, almost 20 years later, and somehow, I feel as if we’ve found ourselves as a nation not only divided by politics, but seemingly taking sides on the basic human necessity to be safe.
After this year's horrific mass shooting in Parkland, Florida left 17 dead, young new artist Sage began work on a song. Sage, then a high-school senior, brought an early version of the tune to his sister, Kesha. On the final track — released on Friday (October 12) via a gripping video made in partnership with March For Our Lives — the two team up on a powerful, memorable chorus: "I don't wanna be brave / I just wanna be safe."
The song's three minutes are also highlighted by verses from rising Nigerian-American rapper Chika, whose words paint a painfully visual of the gun-violence epidemic in America. And in the accompanying video, that epidemic, and its frustrating cyclicality, is on full display.
Sage appears briefly on a television alongside talking heads discussing that very cycle, but the rest of the runtime is devoted to portraying what's called "the most vicious cycle" — in other words, what happens after a mass shooting, when we ultimately end up exactly where we began. To illustrate this, the YouTube upload contains three runs of the same video, caught in a seemingly endless loop, as a gunman's bullet (and the gun lobby's deep pockets) sets off a twisted Rube Goldberg-like labyrinth of damage throughout a school.
Kesha paired her contributions on this song with a stirring op-ed in Teen Vogue, also published on October 12. "It's sad to me that many politicians, pundits, and everyday Americans dismiss gun violence, not just mass shootings in schools, as just another part of the culture in our country," she wrote. "I wish it wasn't. It doesn't have to be."
Shortly after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, Justice Antonin Scalia attended a party where he signaled his displeasure by singing Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”
“He sang with great verve,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told The Washington Post at the time.
Now Mr. Dylan himself is crooning about same-sex love. As part of a new EP called “Universal Love,” he rerecorded the 1929 song “She’s Funny That Way,” from the Great American Songbook catalog, but switched the pronoun to “He’s Funny That Way.”
Bob Dylan, Kesha and St. Vincent contributed
An ambitious campaign from MGM Resorts and agency McCann New York is celebrating LGBTQ love—and increasingly tolerant attitudes towards same-sex marriage—by teaming up with top musical artists to re-imagine classic, traditionally heterosexual love songs as same-sex wedding tunes.
Featuring Bob Dylan, St. Vincent, and Ben Gibbard, the performances here breathe refreshing gay life into old songs, even if it smacks of branded content a little bit.
It’s #20gayteen and rising LGBTQ pop stars like Troye Sivan and Hayley Kiyoko are doing away with the vague usage of “you” and getting specific about the objects of their affection. It’s not you; it’s him, or her, or them. Welcome to the call-me-by-your-pronoun era of pop music. Perched in their midtown Manhattan offices, watching the movement swell to a tipping point, are the executives of McCann New York—an advertising agency that recently commissioned this Universal Love EP for its client, MGM Resorts. The six-song EP is comprised of traditional wedding songs redesigned for same-sex couples.
It’s rare when branded content manages to raise its head above the fray of our fractured media landscape. Efforts like Nike’s Breaking2 doc, GE’s The Message podcast, or the artful inspiration in Yeti’s ongoing short film series often invite a repeated refrain by many marketing professionals citing those brands’ size, scale, or product fit as making it easier to create quality and unique content. Land O’ Lakes’s newest campaign blows all those excuses out of the water.
Brands strengthen partnership in new campaign
Remember the ’90s, when samples were still analog and you had to drive to the store to buy a new pair of shoes? Nike and Foot Locker looked to tap into that nostalgia in their most recent campaign, which launched late last month to promote the new Nike Air Origins and Nike Air Frequency packs. The two brands have a long history. Since they largely serve the same audiences, their fortunes are tied closely together; as Nike’s sales rise, so do Foot Locker’s.
The new campaign goes back to the culture that inspired so much of what that audience created: ’90s hip-hop. In the primary video, Fat Joe of “Lean Back” fame takes some lucky New York City residents on a drive downtown in his “Mo Flow Cab” to the nearest Foot Locker to pick up the new Air Frequency.
Clip also examines the birth of thrash in San Francisco, where Slayer guitarist Gary Holt formed Exodus
A new mini-documentary by the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History examines the origins of thrash metal and, more specifically, Slayer. Although the six-minute clip, Slayer: The Origins of Thrash in San Francisco, is innately flawed (the thrashers formed in Los Angeles), it provides a look at how some of metal’s most foreboding luminaries became architects of aggression.
“I’d love to make a studio record,” guitarist says. “Depends on everybody’s timing”
Things were louder than normal Thursday night at the Smithsonian’s usually staid National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. Not only was there a rowdier crowd on hand, but there was also an amplifier and three guitars — and they weren’t museum pieces. Yet. Living guitar deity Eddie Van Halen was being honored as part of the museum’s “What it means to be American” program, an initiative to explore the American experience.
Indie rock duo follows in the footsteps of Kacey Musgraves, Owl City with Oreo deal
Tegan & Sara will be the latest voices of Oreo’s Wonderfilled original jingle campaign via a commercial that will premiere during this Sunday’s GRAMMYs. The power-pop sister duo follow in the footsteps of previous Wonderfilled singers Kacey Musgraves, Chiddy Bang and Owl City.
An adorable 'First Flight'
This is the story of an adventurous little suitcase that heads to Heathrow Airport in London, makes it through security relatively unmolested and falls in step with another cute carryall on the same journey.
Oh, the romantic possibilities.
But this ad, the first television campaign in Heathrow's 70-year history, isn't a rom-com setup for inanimate objects. It's meant, instead, to be a look at travel through the eyes of an adorable 5-year-old named Harriett, whose companion, aside from her adults, happens to be a piece of luggage with a wide-eyed owl face. (Don't look now, but Owly is actually on sale at the John Lewis store in Terminal 2).
McKinney got the group back together for one last show
In April, North Carolina agency McKinney registered its disapproval of House Bill 2, the law requiring all residents to use public restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, by showing the world where it belongs—on a very large role of toilet paper.
The controversial law has made national headlines as Gov. Pat McCrory defends himself against the Obama administration and LGBT advocacy groups. McKinney's latest effort opposing HB2 is far more ambitious than the last. It involves a fake '90s boy band, a reunion show and a few guys in their 30s who seem just a little behind the times.
For some, decorating is a gift
Man, this holiday season is all about forcing me to confront my unfair assumptions. Kohl's delivers with an ad that starts out with a photogenic couple decking out an apartment with lights, a tree and such. I was mentally preparing a nice Grinchy rant about it until the reveal that there's more going on than meets the eye. (Watch the video below before reading on if you don't want me to spoil the surprise.)
The "American Idol" season-eight alum was attracted to the campaign's "message of acceptance," he tells Billboard.
One would think that Adam Lambert has already seen most of his dreams come true, but one box on his career to-do list remained unchecked: television commercial.
Enter: the Open Up with Oreo campaign, which the cookie company launches today (Jan. 19).
"It was always this fantasy -- wouldn’t it be such a treat to record a song for a TV commercial?," Lambert tells Billboard. What ultimately attracted the American Idol season eight alum to the campaign? Its message of acceptance.
Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has been nominated for seven awards in the annual News & Documentary Emmys, a record number of nominations for CIR.
The journalism nominated ranges from hard-hitting nightly news to deep investigations, from inventive multimedia pieces to creative partnerships. Winners will be announced Sept. 21 in New York.
We're not quite together with their plan
For some reason, Chris Cornell’s world-class vocal range just doesn’t fit with postmodern production, as evidenced by his laughably bad Timbaland team-up album, Scream, in 2009, and now this new and bizarrely lazy (yet fully authorized) Steve Aoki remix of Soundgarden’s “Spoonman.” The 1994 Superunknown and AOR classic has been shorn of its famous spoons and rock instrumentation (which is to be expected) and replaced with EDM that doesn’t pulse or pound, but rather hovers kind of rudderless in the air while various Cornell catchphrases zoom in and out of earshot.
Hollywood couple is back, and hooked on home appliances
For those who couldn't get enough of Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard in their hit Samsung Galaxy Tab S holiday ad, the hyper-cute Hollywood couple—married in real-life—have returned for an encore, this time plugging the company's high-tech home appliances.
In a minute-long spot, the actors—known for Parenthood (Shepard) and House of Lies (Bell), among other projects—are planning a big dinner party. And naturally, Samsung's refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers, washing machines and vacuum bots prove invaluable. A 30-second commercial focuses on their efforts to clean an infant's toy bunny using Samsung's Activewash Top Load Washer.
McKinney created the ads, and Tucker Gates directs in a suitably off-the-cuff, relaxed style.