Brian mostly writes about movies and TV, but he’s contributed some music commentary over the years. This week, I’m revisiting seven of his song reviews and recommendations.
“Oscar Mayer Wiener Song” – #6 from “The Top 15 Advertising Jingles” (2015)
Oscar Mayer bears the rare distinction of having not one, but two awesome jingles. The company’s ode to baloney (or rather, “b-o-l-o-g-n-a”) is plenty catchy, and will inexorably etch the proper spelling of “Mayer” into your memory. But the brand’s fanfare to frankfurters is the real top dog. Written as a rousing march, “I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Wiener” compels you to parade on down to your nearest sausage merchant without delay.
Much as I love this song, however, the implications of the lyrics are a little troubling. Would you really want to be a sausage? To be ground up, stuffed into a rope of intestinal lining, and then eaten? Oddly enough, the early ad I’ve linked to addresses this issue directly. A group of schoolchildren march down the street happily singing the jingle, presumably on their way to be pureed into meat paste. A lone dissenter – portrayed as a typical geek – instead marches in the opposite direction, proudly proclaiming he has no desire to be an Oscar Mayer wiener, because, as he quite rightly points out, PEOPLE EAT THOSE. His radicalism doesn’t last long, though…his classmates refuse to tolerate his contrarian, intellectualist nonsense, and browbeat him into joining in on the proper song.
God bless America.
Another component of what makes the “Wiener” jingle so successful lies in Oscar Mayer’s multi-faceted marketing campaign. I’m speaking, of course, about the Wienermobile & Wienerwhistle. The trifecta of an infectious melody, a car shaped like a hot dog, and a whistle shaped like a car shaped like a hot dog has proved an advertising juggernaut since the 1950s.
As for choosing the best version or “cover” of the tune, I’d have to go with Jon Lovitz’s spirited performance on an episode of The Simpsons. I couldn’t say it better than Homer himself:
“That’s it, Marge. He knows the whole hot dog song! Go ahead, sleep with him.”
Brian comes from a background in film and kitsch, so it’s not a huge surprise that his review focuses on the narrative wrinkles of the tune, as well as the ludicrous marketing synergy of the Wienermobile & -whistle. I agree with him that the jingle is a “rousing march,” and I would only expand it to “rousing march that makes you want to lobotomize yourself with a power drill to get the damn thing out of your head.”
Our main point of disagreement is that I would place more of the song’s charm into the aesthetic brilliance of the word “wiener” (it’s such a great word) as well as the obvious innuendos. To me, those factors elevate it from a great jingle to an all-timer… even if I feel a bit odd when I sing it to my daughter.