What's up with the fake rock 'n roll music on American Dreams?

l’ve only seen parts of a few episodes of American Dreams on ABC, but every time I turn to it I hear phony cover versions of the vintage rock songs used on the soundtrack.

Back in the early Sixties there was a record label called HIT Records that produced cover versions of current hits. I bought these ‘knock-off’ versions at the local grocery store for 39 cents each. At the time, a record by the original artist cost 99 cents at the record store, so a kid with limited funds, who didn’t know any better, could get the ‘same’ song for less than half the price of the real thing. The fakes were probably all performed by the same studio band but the label credited them with names that were similar to the original artist’s. The only one I remember for sure is that The Beatles covers were credited to The Bugs!

Anyway, when a song is played on the American Dreams programs I’ve seen, it always sounds like it’s one of these shitty records. Now if this were another type of program, it wouldn’t matter. But it’s a show built around American Bandstand that features period music prominently on the soundtrack. I mean, even car commercials use the original artist’s recordings. But a hit show on a major network can’t spring for the rights to Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham??

What’s up with that, I ask?

I don’t watch the show (and don’t know anybody who does), but the promos usually advertise a famous contemporary pop artist impersonating a famous pop artist from the period. This may be a nominal hook for the critical younger demographic who wouldn’t go anywhere near a treacly self-serious preachy period drama (which is certainly how AD plays in the commercials) but might give it a try because [insert pop artist] will be singing this week. If all NBC needed was someone to lip synch, they couldn’t promote all the musical “guest stars.” Plus, don’t underestimate licensing fees, especially if they add up. I also imagine the Bandstand setting would necessitate live recordings of the songs, not all of which may be available in usable recordings (quality, etc.).

Just a guess.

It’s WAAAY cheaper to pay some outta work jingle writer to write a “fake” song than to buy the rights from the copyright owners to use a recognizable “real” song.

WAG: shows taking place in a different time period than the current one tend to be costly in and of themselves. Costumes and props have to either be procurred or manufactured. The network is trying to cut costs wherever possible. Also, if the show is sucessful enough to go into syndication, the rights usually have to be re-negotiated. See WKRP In Cincinnati for example.

Never trust NBC commercials for their shows. They’re notorious for blowing a very small sentance out of proportion and making it seem like THAT’S the major plot of the week. It’s a wonder anybody watches anything on NBC, the way they get their own shows wrong.

For the record, the actual performances on “American Bandstand”
are rerecorded by the guest singer(Usher, Michelle Branch, etc.) and then lip-synced to by said artist. The music they play as background music during a given scene is the real deal, though.
The exception to this is where the aforementioned AB performance is playing in the background; when there is a performance on the show, they tend to jump around to several different storylines, all supposedly occuring at once while the song is being performed on AB.It gets a little confusing at times because they have a tendency to start having dialogue from the next “scene shift” before the previous one is over.

Chris W
PS FWIW, it plays much better and less preachy on the actual show than in the ads.

“I don’t share the rest of America’s fascination with Forensics”
–Emily Gilmore

Original poster here.

I haven’t watched enough to know about how the “current-pop-artists-impersonating-the-old-artist” bit works.

I’m refering to a couple of instances I saw. In one they were playing I Want To Hold Your Hand for the kids to dance to on Bandstand. But it wasn’t The Beatles recording of I Want To Hold Your Hand. It sounded like the producers were trying to hide this by using a vocal track that sounded like the Bandstand kids were singing the lyrics (so loudly, I guess, that you couldn’t hear John and Paul) but it wasn’t even The Beatles recording underneath that.

And on last night’s show, when the main character (blonde girl) was at a party, Wooly Bully was playing, but it wasn’t the original Sam the Sham and the Pharoh’s recording, but an attempted sound-alike version. Hard to believe that it’s cheaper to re-record something like this than to just pay poor Sam some royalty money.

Imagine the film American Graffitti with crappy sound-alike versions of all those great classic songs on the soundtrack.

I guess this strategy works for American Dreams, if the target audience is young and hasn’t heard these tunes before. But for those of us who grew up listening to these songs, and have them imprinted on our brains, these cover versions detract from the reality of the drama the program is trying to create.

Were The Beatles even on American Bandstand? I thought they were on The Ed Sullivan Show.

You misunderstand, Rabid. American Bandstand played records for the kids to dance to. That is what I was refering to. No, I don’t believe The Beatles ever appared on American Bandstand.

Beatle’s first television appearance was Ed Sullivan if you don’t count some home movies that Jack Parr showed on his show a few weeks before the Sullivan gig.

randwill, I doubt that version of “Wooly Bully” was rerecorded specifically for the show. They just used one of the eight million cover versions made by no-name bands. Those are far cheaper to license than the hit version.

Hollywood is notoriously cheap. Spielberg did not want to pay 10,00 for the original Papa-oo-Mow-Mow for ET- he paid a studio group a few hundred to do it. Think Otis Day's "Shout " in Animal House compared w/ the Isley Bros, or Los Lobos w/Richie Valens -(La Bomba)? The latter were also to sell new soundtrack albums. The movie company lied & said Valens' original recordings weren't of good enough quality -it was really to give Los Lobos a start. Disney in Encino Man used a friend of mine's song (re-recorded) & he had to ask them for , they never paid anything until caught. If Spielberg & Disney are cheap & steal, anybody can.

The producers do not seem to have the rights to any Beatles music or images. In the opening credits montage, there is a shot of a girl holding up a poster to welcome the Beatles, and the photo on the poster is pixillated out.

That being as it is, on the show they alternate between archival footage from Bandstand (seen clearly on the monitors on the show, but with the “live performers” out of focus in the background) and having some modern kid pretend to be the original singer (which works very badly for those of us who remember the originals).

I do not recall so many performers on Bandstand as they have on this show. Almost all of the music was records.

The show is better when they take the focus off Meg (the shallow blonde with the anachronistic hair) and follow her parents or big brother (her father’s heart attack seems to have been forgotten, her mother has the potential to become a serious hottie, and her brother is going to frag his platoon leader as soon as he gets to Nam). And please. let Henry’s family have something good happen to them for once…

(No, I don’t watch the show. The Wife likes it, and I kinda listen to it, in the background, you know…)