Monday, May 13, 2019

You: Aria

Let's face it. Most commercials are annoying. We are subjected to repetitive cycles of junk, up to 22 minutes per hour, fed to us by a mind-numbing cast of talking amphibians, birds, boxes, cartoon characters, and outright annoying dingbats!

But every now and then, out of this cacophony of visuals, some really memorable images emerge that are highly repeatable without breaking the mute button on the remote.

Volvo has done it again with the 2019 XC90 flight of commercials entitled "You: Aria."

Who is the stunning soprano?

Emily Cheung, a member of the Vancouver (BC) Chamber Choir, is the coloratura soprano performing  "Queen of the Night: Aria"  from the Magic Flute, written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The aria is renowned as a demanding piece to perform well. The vocal range covers two octaves, from F4 to F6 and requires a very high tessitura, A4 to C6. Only coloratura sopranos can sing the bird like, playful high notes.

The L. A. Times asked the question: "Does Volvo know it’s using opera’s most monstrous villainess to sell its SUVs?"

Stunning Voice; Stunning Stereo

You have to look quick; happens right at the beginning of "Aria."  The car stereo is labeled "Bowers & Wilkens." It is a spendy option for the XC90.

At  USD$2,650, the Bowers & Wilkens S90 auto stereo system is impressive!  When you open this page, be sure to click the video clip, demonstrating placement of 19 speakers. The resonating sub-woofer is mounted on the vehicle frame.

The S90 sound system was given a "Standing Ovation" at Cars.com.

We've come along way from 1953, when Dinah Shore sung her way into out hearts, singing "See the USA in your Chevrolet!"


"A Place to Collect Your Thoughts"

In 2016, Volvo launched a flight of commercials promoting the XC90. This baffling commercial created a flurry Internet speculation as to the connotation of the commercials, and relationships of the individuals in the vehicle.

In advertising circles, the ads were successful - very successful!

The thirty-second version of the commercial provides nothing more than a montage of individuals riding in the Volvo XC90.

The "extended" version, three minutes duration, offers many relationship clues, which begin to solve the enigma. There is only a woman driving the car; has to be the daughter, implying the dad is either divorced or widowed.

What is also projected is the upper class status of the "family," from the impressive mansion, to the Hasselblad camera, and the XC90 itself with its pricey Bowers & Wilkins 19 speaker sound system, described earlier.

• In the opening scenes, Mr. B — actor Ron Jack Foley —  is writing wedding notes in preparation for his daughter's nuptials. Moreover, the 2016 XC90 is parked next to a lighthouse, portrayed as being "the perfect place to collect his thoughts."

• The lighthouse is Fisgard Light, the first lighthouse built on southern tippy-tip of Vancouver Island (British Columbia) at the entrance to Esquimalt Harbor, home of the large Canadian Forces Base on the West Coast.

In this screen grab, you can make out the shape of a Canadian Forces warship at anchor in Esquimalt Harbor.

Music Tracks

• First music cut: "Mr. B" writing wedding speech notes whilst sitting in car next to lighthouse: "Emily's Song" The Lil' Fighters. (0:15 to 2:12)

• Second cut, "Mrs. B" plays radio: "Every Time the Sun Comes Up" Sharon Van Etten. (2:30 to end)
(An amusing comment written about the music, "Volvo sold me a song and not a car.")

• Collaboration: Advertising Agency: Grey, New York and Production Company, Townhouse and  Iconoclast

I really enjoyed this flight of commercials - restrained and self-controlled, in sharp contrast to the pedestrian commercials featuring vehicles blazing across the screen at paralegal speeds!

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