Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Little Saturday Morning Observation

It's quite possible there will never be another pop song with a telephone ring in it, as in Blondie's 1978 tune, "Hanging on the Telephone," or ELO's "Telephone Line," or "Jeu du Téléphone," Natasha Snitkine's 1967 French version of Sid Ramin's "Music to Watch Girls By" (performed by Andy Williams and many others). I imagine there are hundreds of songs out there with telephone rings in them. They tend to be songs about waiting longingly on word from a lover or about long-distance breakups.

Today the meaning would be completely different. A contemporary composition including a recording of a cellphone ringtone of an old-fashioned phone would be playfully ironic. A composition with a pre-programmed Nokia or T-Mobile or whatever ringtone would lack the melancholic atmosphere, and mainly be product placement. And it would kind of miss the point to be waiting longingly by the phone for a lover who finally calls to the tune of a number one single by Shakira.

As it's likely possible to download a ringtone for any of the above telephone songs, some cheeky producer might pull off the postmodern chicken-and-egg stunt of incorporating the ringtone of a given song into that same song. But I think we can probably say that the day of telephone rings in pop songs is over.

1 comment:

MT said...

The generic ring may have ceased to connote popularly what made it so popular among past pop-song writers, but still a generic ring or ring from a famous film or TV scene seems liable to crop up, given the popularity of sampling and nostalgia.