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Consumers can only deduce that playing a Memorex tape is interchangeable with having Fitzgerald sing in their homes. Hearkening back to man vs. It couldn't seem quainter today: Memorex's appeal to audio sophistication with a TV listening stunt, all to sell a recording format that's long been outmoded. But veteran recording engineer Jim Anderson says it's not so improbable that Count Basie or his Memorex commercial successor, jazz arranger Nelson Riddle, might have failed the "Ella or Memorex" test.
The trick is, they're not in the room with Fitzgerald. Anderson says the musicians were likely in the control room, hearing a "live playback of the musicians in the studio, or a tape of that same performance" — which, he argues, could be "pretty convincing. In his spot with Fitzgerald, Nelson Riddle lacked Basie's ironic twinkle, displaying some awkwardness in the role. It hardly mattered. Anyone who watched television at all was likely to catch an Fitzgerald Memorex spot. The "Is it live or is it Memorex? As the campaign became an institution, Fitzgerald, pushing 60, reveled in a Memorex-fueled career resurgence.
The Voice That Shattered Glass
As the critic Leonard Feather wrote, "Ella Fitzgerald's pitch for Memorex probably did more for her than a hundred concerts. For some jazz purists, using the art form to hawk cassettes on TV amounted to a capital offense. One jazz critic went so far as to call Fitzgerald a "freakish cultural icon" for her glass-shattering Memorex turn.
Fitzgerald was indifferent to stylistic boundaries and popular anxieties. Her career dated back to the s, when jazz was mainstream music. Fitzgerald had made onscreen appearances since , when she sang her breakthrough hit "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" in the film Ride 'Em Cowboy.
It was what she would want to do. We know that black artists were kept off the radio and television. It changes in the s, because we're in the post-civil rights era and the prestige of black is beautiful, black pride, black culture is emerging. And that means there were black celebrities by the end of the '70s who [were] doing all kinds of endorsements.
Still, there was stiff competition from rival companies like TDK and Scotch, which would enlist Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles as spokespeople in the late '70s. As Memorex marketing manager Jack Rohrer told Billboard in , the company needed to "capture the attention of younger tape users who are just learning to appreciate cassettes. So Memorex produced a fresh commercial teaming Fitzgerald with Melissa Manchester, a rising year-old singer-songwriter best known for the hit "Midnight Blue. And she'd been a devoted Fitzgerald fan from the moment she heard the singer's Gershwin songbook album as a little girl.
She just was my guiding light through my whole life," she says. I immediately felt confirmed of all I had hoped for: that she was just magnificent in every way. In the spot, Manchester was thrilled to flunk what she now recalls as a "kosher" "Ella or Memorex" listening test. In the ad, Fitzgerald seems fully herself onscreen — and in this spot's generational scheme, that signature warm, matronly appearance had special meaning. Manchester, meanwhile, recalls wearing she considered appropriate attire, a loose blouse and jeans, but was called off the set after a take or two.
In the mids, a braless style was trendy and would have resonated with younger consumers, but Manchester wasn't allowed to sport that look. However, Fitzgerald was granted her usual autonomy of self-presentation. Not the torch of jazz, but the torch of endorsing Memorex or the torch of purity of tone.
With the advent of the car cassette deck, Sony's release of the first Walkman and the growing phenomenon of mixtape sharing, cassette sales were very much on the rise at the end of the '70s. But the Fitzgerald Memorex partnership showed signs of wear. A Memorex spot featured Fitzgerald opposite jazz flugelhorn player Chuck Mangione, who performed "Feels So Good," his rare instrumental hit. Here the roles are inverted: Fitzgerald sits outside the booth listening for the difference between Mangione's live performance and a cassette recording.
Though this version with Mangione aired widely, Fitzgerald's transition from live singer to passive stock icon implied her obsolescence. The generational shift initiated in the Manchester spot is completed here, with Mangione's youthful enthusiasm and trendiness overshadowing Fitzgerald's classic appeal.
The campaign had run its course. And as popular as cassettes were becoming, they accounted for less than 15 percent of Memorex's total sales. The company's deep losses in the early '80s would prompt the sale of its consumer business, including its cassette campaign, in For most of a decade, the Memorex commercials presented Fitzgerald as an exemplar of sound fidelity, model of authenticity, and most significantly, her own artist. Fitzgerald's peer Billie Holiday had her tragic legend overtake her art in the broader culture.
In contrast, Fitzgerald's late-career Memorex ads put her inimitable style and voice right at the center of her popular reputation, helping to grow the legend of her art itself.
The commercials made Fitzgerald into a folk hero synonymous with cassette technology. Children on the street called out to Fitzgerald as "The Memorex Lady," to her delight. She'd tell of airline pilots warning her not to sing on their flights for fear of broken plane windows. The ad campaign capitalized on a folk legend about the human voice's glass-breaking force; it mythologized Fitzgerald's vocal power as timeless and inescapable. Nothing was immune. A Jet magazine news item mentioned the Memorex spots as it reported that firefighters had rushed to Fitzgerald's Beverly Hills home after her singing triggered a fire alarm — all while she was recovering from open-heart surgery at age Now, many technologies later and decades after Fitzgerald's death, these cassette commercials may feel like the distant past.
But the question of how we relate to analog or digital voices has never left us: Memorex's marriage of cassette technology and Fitzgerald's musical presence resonates today in our relationship with AI voices like Siri and Alexa. Fitzgerald's unique talent and character in these s spots point to why her voice in particular endures as a hallmark of style, quality and invention.
She was an American original. Now we bring you the stuff of legends - an urban legend and a jazz legend combining for a legendary advertising campaign. In the s, Ella Fitzgerald became the face of Memorex cassette tapes, a surprising second act for the beloved midcentury singer. Michelle Mercer has the story for NPR series Turning the Tables, which is re-examining the legacies of the women who created American popular music.
In , the Leo Burnett ad agency had a bright idea for selling Memorex's new line of blank cassette tapes. MERCER: They'd enlist audio engineers to prove the old myth that an opera singer could shatter a wine glass with a high note.
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But the agency began to think opera was too highbrow for the broader audience that Memorex hoped to reach. The campaign needed a spokesperson whose musical style had a more casual brilliance. In , at age 55, Ella became the face and the voice of Memorex cassettes in TV ads like this one. You are now hearing the Memorex cassette tape recording we just made of Ella. But is it Ella, or is it the Memorex? What brought special warmth and conviction to the TV ads was Ella's middle-aged appearance.
The Voice That Shattered Glass | WUWM
She was on the heavy side, wore a wig and, in some ads, cataract-correcting eyeglasses. Your feedback will be reviewed. Examples of shattered glass Puddles of blood and shattered glass littered a two-block radius. From Cambridge English Corpus. The meter starts out full, but will eventually decrease if the player character steps on shattered glass or runs around. From Wikipedia.
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The shock wave rattled buildings miles from the epicenter and shattered glass for a mile around, which proved the source of most of the injuries. Other debris was scattered around the city, including pieces of shattered glass. All its windows were covered with brown paper to block out light and netting to catch splinters of shattered glass.
Materials used include rusted wire, shattered glass , obscene imagery, dead mice, the artificial leg of a dead drug dealer and sometimes other people's art. She is featured in a room with almost motionless birds and in another with shattered glass floating around her. The resulting explosion creates a loud, sonic shock-wave, and may throw shattered glass several feet.
The video begins in a club environment, with misplaced furniture and a shattered glass bottle. A patrol officer was parked near the house when he felt another vehicle hit his from behind, followed by the sound of shattered glass. The two courtyards inside the school were filled with shattered glass and spent rounds.
The particle effects system, meanwhile, boasts impressive explosion effects with shimmering fire, shattered glass , and blood spilt in every direction There is a probability that some damage shattered glass for example will result from a sonic boom. Peeling paint which has revealed rusty steel inside and outside, as well as shattered glass panels are amongst the visible concerns.
He concluded, there's some dramatically billowing fabrics and some shattered glass , but really, the song is the star. In the aftermath of the storm, fifteen truckloads of shattered glass were removed. He later made sculptures in which he integrated shattered glass and mirror reflections with his shadow-art concept.
These veteran journalists have shattered glass ceilings, elevated the principles of journalistic practice and become role models. The blast had shattered glass windows and filled the ground floor with smoke. These examples are from the Cambridge English Corpus and from sources on the web.
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Any opinions in the examples do not represent the opinion of the Cambridge Dictionary editors or of Cambridge University Press or its licensors. Go to the definition of shattered. Go to the definition of glass.
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