If you too wish Geico would just dump the increasingly awful “Caveman” commercial series while their marketing people might still be able to salvage a scrap of credibility, consider this telling sign of a stale imagination: the most recent installment in the “so easy a caveman can do it” series of ads–which spawned a short-lived sit-com that was so hard to watch I actually caught myself begging to have my fingernails removed with a pair of tweezers–is a clear-cut rip-off of the unsung but brilliant Giorgio Moroder’s theme for the forgotten 1978 film Midnight Express, an 8-minute disco-meets-new-wave workout called “Chase,” and a tune that did more to pioneer the new wave genre than any blue-haired synth-master you care to name (the piece is well-known to listeners of the renowned late-night AM talk show, Coast to Coast AM, a show famous for the drunk people who come home late from the club and call in to exchange their Jesus sightings and alien abductions.) The tune scored Moroder an Academy Award.
Moroder, who received Italy’s honorary title of “Commendatore” in 2005, is the unseen architect of some of disco, new wave and punk’s biggest commercial successes–from Blondie’s “Call Me” (a hit that emerged from Moroder’s downright filthy “Man Machine” instrumental for the American Gigolo soundtrack) to Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and her 16-minute epic, “Love to Love You Baby.” Interestingly, the “Man Machine” demo was originally pitched to Stevie Nicks, who turned it down (Oops! Wish ya had THAT one back, eh Stevie?). Blondie, of course, turned it into a smash hit both here and overseas.
Giorgio Moroder’s “Chase”: So Easy Anyone Can Steal It
It shouldn’t be hard to see at this point that Moroder, though relatively unknown, has more than enough money to assuage his anonymity. His other noted collaborations include work with Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Queen, Sammy Haggar, Janet Jackson, Kenny Loggins, Graham Nash, Bonnie Tyler, Barbara Streisand, Cher, and, while we’re at it, the Prince of Tides, the Three Little Pigs, and each of Snow White’s 7 dwarfs. To put it simply–this man’s hands have found their way into nearly every major movement in modern music over the past five decades. Zeppelin, Queen and Elton John are known for frequenting Moroder’s Musicland Studios in Munich over the years.
Now everyone’s begging to know who performs the catchy, lo-fi disco gem featured in Geico’s ad with the new “Disco Caveman,” who blathers in wince-worthy attempts at humor about “jazz hands” and “a lotta heel work” as he glides back and forth under a sparkling mirror ball, extolling the greatness of Baltimore’s disco scene. Yes–Baltimore. It’s almost funny, if only it didn’t all come off as such a forced and condescending plea to America’s Incredible Shrinking Attention Span. The piece, slapped together by “composer” Devin Smith for Honor Roll Music, is clearly a jazzed-up (no pun intended) take on Giorgio’s comparatively primitive–and therefore better–“Chase” instrumental. Should you doubt the comparison, investigate for yourself: give Moroder’s tune a listen, and then check out Devin Smith’s “Baltimore Disco Geico” in its entirety on his myspace page here.
Geico’s Disco Caveman: ha-ha (insert “golf clap” here)