Bad songs are often annoyingly catchy. Think about it. How many times have you had a song stuck in your head that you actually like? Exactly.
French supermarket chain Monoprix and its agency Rosapark recently channeled their creative energy into mimicking the unashamedly cheesy goodness of such music, the result being something they’ve dubbed ‘The Worst Song in the World’. But there’s method behind the madness - it’s all a pretty cheeky way to promote Monoprix’s new delivery offering, which allows shoppers to enjoy the in-store experience but leave their groceries to be delivered home. If you haven’t seen it yet, you may be struggling to see the connection between the two - check out the video below to find out (and we wish you the best of luck in your quest to evict that song from your brain).
Rosapark enlisted directing collective Traktor (who are repped by Stink in France and whose work needs little introduction) to shoot the spot-cum-music video for The Worst Song in the World and the end result is an absolute bloody shindig of ‘80s-ness.
LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with Rosapark’s co-founder and CCO Gilles Fichteberg and the crew at Traktor to find out more.
LBB> This is a pretty zany idea! What were the first inspirations that led to it and what kind of brief were you presented with?
GF> People love shopping at their local Monoprix, but they hate carrying their groceries. So the brand wanted to promote its home delivery service that enables you to leave your groceries at the store and get them delivered.
Before thinking about inspirations, we had to find the right benefit of home delivery, which is having your hands free. We started thinking about everything you can do when you have your hands free, and one thing kept popping back at us as stronger: you can skip a bad song. And then we thought: what about making it the worst song in the world? So we wrote it, and suddenly it seemed like the right way to tell the story.
LBB> The supermarket industry isn’t particularly known for its out-there advertising like this - why is it a good fit for Monoprix and what do you think work like this says about the brand?
GF> Monoprix is a wonderful client; they always push the agency to come up with outstanding ideas with a funny twist. Besides, they have become part of pop culture here because of their insightful packaging, so it seemed like the right place to play with pop culture in a new way. They like to surprise their audience and are deeply rooted in a millennial, urban culture.
LBB> One thing I find interesting is that it’s all based around someone not skipping something - as a result, viewers need to watch until the end to get the catch line! Did any of that play in your thinking when developing the idea?
GF> Yes, we needed to build on the tension, so that people would wonder why the character isn’t skipping the song. We needed to play with their inner curiosity to keep their interest, by raising questions in the lyrics and hiding the actress’s hands in a subtle way thanks to clever framing. Showing the band also helped us make it more catchy and entertaining.
LBB> Why were Traktor the perfect directors to bring this idea to life?
GF> Well, they’re Swedish, so they know a lot about catchy bad music videos and Eurovision (lol).
But on a more serious note: they’re the best for unexpected films. We needed the right level of craziness to build up to the final line, and we knew they could bring it. And they had just the right universe and creativity.
Traktor don’t just show a dog – they show an Afghan hound in slow motion.
LBB> How closely did you work with them? Was it more a case of letting their creativity free?
GF> It was very collaborative: they liked the script, so we were on the same page from the start. They had a deep understanding of the story and we had the same idea of where we wanted it to go. There was a kind of obviousness that made for the right chemistry.
They shared a lot of their work at every step, and each time, it was perfectly relevant and silly. They’ll bring motorcycles and all kinds of crazy additions – but also perfect acting direction and storytelling.
LBB> And Traktor crew, why was this a job that you were keen to get involved in?
T> Well, we love strong ideas! And this was one of those brilliant, unexpected and very funny ideas that immediately spoke to us. (Or rather, sang!)
The core idea of the film is so simple and silly: “YOU CAN’T SKIP A BAD SONG WHEN YOU’RE CARRYING GROCERY BAGS.”
So, we just had to do it. We are big fans of ideas that involve big misguided gestures that unabashedly stick to their guns: “You did all THAT to say THIS?” The stuff of life.
LBB> Tell us about the song - what kind of research and inspiration went into ‘The Worst Song in the World’?
GF> We’d listed every music faux-pas in the lyrics, like vocoder, saxophone solos, music fading out and in again… We went broad in our research, from Spice Girls to Gangnam Style to Scatman to 1990s British rap. But deep down, we knew we wanted to go for ‘80s music, which is admittedly one of the worst music eras of all time – the saxophone, the synths – so we researched bad taste songs that most people hate to love: Europe, Toto, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (yes, we hate to say it, but it has aged), Scorpions, a-ha, Van Halen…
T> The music brief was important. We collaborated closely with Rosapark and the brilliant music company Schmooze, and talked a lot about: What is the difference between a GOOD song and BAD one? (Not much to be honest.)
But writing a BAD song is not as easy as it sounds. When we started talking about creating ‘The Worst Song In The World’, we said that a bad song is never bad because it’s made by bad musicians or bad songwriters (they are normally quite good at it). But we came to the conclusion that the two ingredients that needed to be OFF in order to make it BAD was: TASTE and TIMING.
A bad song is also normally very catchy, and easy to sing along with, no matter if you love it or hate it.
LBB> I mean, it is terrible but it is also annoyingly catchy - how important was that and how did you pull it off?
GF> It was important to everyone that the song shouldn’t be unbearable, or no one would want to listen to it. We needed to make a song in bad taste, but still a great song, a guilty pleasure. As for the actual ingredients that make it a hit, that’s Schmooze and Simon’s magic - talent and synthesizers.
LBB> Who did you work with on the actual production of the track?
GF> We worked with Paris-based production company Schmooze and Simon Davies, one of their composers in London (they normally have great taste, for the record). The song is practically the same as the first version we listened to, so they hit the right note straight away.
LBB> With regards to the music video scenes, what kind of eras and scenes did you look to for inspiration?
T> The video part is a giant cocktail of everything with gloriously bad taste. We love the style and the look of the ‘80s, as you might have noticed. Therefore, we shot the video part on Beta Cam (old cameras that are not used anymore, except for letter weights or museum pieces).
But first of all, we had to ‘forget’ everything we knew about filmmaking, camera work, lighting, etc., in order to do the video part. Back to film school, basically. Or before. We imagined that we were just friends of the band, who didn’t know anything about filmmaking, but were filled to the brim with confidence and forward thrust. We also imagined that we explored something called ‘video effects’ for the first time. We simply went in with fresh eyes and innocent minds.
LBB> They’re brilliantly cheesy - how were they for you guys to shoot? Was it fun on set?
T> The band is great! They gave it all! And we had a lot of fun on the shoot.
LBB> How was the casting process and why was the woman perfect for the role?
T> We cast a large number of women for the girl part. We found her in Paris and she has that great mix of ‘indie music lover’ and ‘Parisian girl’; a girl who knows what she wants and who will tell you if you got it wrong. Yes, that kind of girl!
LBB> Some of her faces crack me up as the film goes on - what kind of conversations were you having on set?
T> The girl is an excellent actress and she immediately understood the idea, so we had a lot of fun on the set. The key was to find an escalation in her frustration, since the song is gradually getting worse and worse with Saxophone solos, bad rap and even a part sung in Spanish (for no reason). We choose to shoot in an area of Paris that would fit the character for this girl. (And funnily enough, this is exactly where she lives in real life. Keep guessing…)
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
GF> The casting was a real challenge: finding people who could perform the song and look committed to their music – not parodies of bad musicians. Then finding the perfect actress to create the right contrast with the band and deliver an outstanding performance in a limited frame.
T> Shooting in Paris in March has its challenges. It was freezing cold and it was raining, and the area where we shot the film attracts millions each year. But good spirit, great people and a strong core idea are always the best way around any problem. Plus, blackmail and bribery, s’il vous plait!
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
T> We love Paris in the springtime!