Audi "Progressions"

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While the '90s gave birth to the remix, the 21st Century has taken it to a new level with the mash-up, done effectively (and legally) with David Bowie tunes in Audi's "Progressions" through Santa Monica-based music company Endless Noise, out of McKinney + Silver. Mash-ups, usually done as a parody or guerrilla-style while violating copyrights, feature the combination of musical elements from different tracks. Merging the Bowie classic "Rebel Rebel" with the more recent "Never Gonna Get Old," music producer Jeff Elmassian was able to mesh the two tunes in a progressive way, simultaneously lending a suitable soundtrack to the spot and exercising a degree of creativity not usually associated with licensed tracks. The spot opens with "Rebel's" recognizable riff played monophonically on the piano, then by a cello and an acoustic guitar before bursting into electric territory, as progressive circular images representing Audi's logo appear on the screen. Appropriately, one sequence features a spinning record, half of a cassette tape, a CD and an iPod touch pad. As the riff reaches a break, we hear Bowie sing the title line from "Never Gonna Get Old," and then the tune completely morphs, while the vocals can be heard in a remix stutter. Elmassian had full permission from Bowie's camp, as well as the freedom of arrangement. He mixed many different versions of the mash-up, including different songs, until he and agency creative director Jonathan Cude decided on the final mix. While Elmassian mostly works with composers and original music for spots, he liked the mash-up process because it allowed for some creativity. "You get the cachet of the song," he says, "but you can personalize it." The mash-up was such a success that Audi's marketing campaign and Bowie's camp teamed up to center a contest around fan-made mash-ups of old and new songs, made possible on Bowie's web site. The winner received a TT coupe, and Bowie retained the rights to his remixes.
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