May 17, 2012

Anatomy of a Sellout #2: Mayer Hawthorne Edition

This is the second entry into my series "Anatomy of a Sellout" in which I discuss musicians who are being labeled a "sellout" for whatever reason, and give my thoughts on whether or not they are indeed selling out.  To read the 1st entry on producer Timbaland, CLICK HERE.

Over the past week, a new video has been released by former Stones Throw Records artist Mayer Hawthorne, called "Henny & Ginger Ale".   The song, an Itunes exclusive bonus track off of his recent "How Do You Do" album, is a bouncy and infectious party jam, reminiscent of Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up", that serves to point out two things that become abundantly clear by the time the three minute song is done.


First off, Mayer LOVES him some Henny & Ginger Ale.  That much is not even up for debate.  Secondly, this dude knows how to party.  He's got hot women, cool dudes and the Henny is flowing like water.   The password to his party is even Henny.   Bottles are in open site, labels facing the camera, and the video, quite frankly, comes off as a glorified commercial for Hennessy.  Much like the BMW short films "The Hire" which starred Clive Owen and a veritable who's who of the acting world making cameos as well as top flight directors, served as little more than glorified commercials for BMW's Cars.

And as can be expected, I suppose, there are calls out online that Mayer Hawthorne has sold out!  He's sold out for that sweet sweeeeeeeeeet Hennessy.  I tweeted out jokingly (before I had seen those accusations) that Mayer was trolling for a lifetime supply of Henny & Ginger Ale, and complimented him on his play.   Then I saw on youtube some accusations of selling out and I thought that was interesting.

Interesting because anyone that knows ANYTHING about Hawthorne wouldn't really see this video as surprising.  Anyone that has followed Hawthorne for longer than this song would know that he's a fan of the finer things as it relates to food and beverage, and has always come across as a classy kinda guy.

Like this video for instance, which showcases this.

Mayer has always come off as that laid back wine drinking connoisseur and lover of the finer things in life, while still staying grounded and remembering where he came from.   And there's nothing wrong with that.  And while some may see the Henny & Ginger Ale video as a shameless money grab (I don't know if he got any money from Henny for this or if it was just a mutual thing, although I would expect he got something out of it), I don't see it that way.

And this is where I come down on the "Sellout" line, as I talked about in my previous entry on this about Timbaland.  People referred to Timbaland as a "Sellout" because they only were able to view him in terms of a hip hop producer/rapper.  And so when he started working with pop artists like Miley Cyrus or One Republic or whatever, they viewed that as him hopping on the new popular artist train, hoping to piggy back on that success.

And I never saw it that way.  Timbaland honestly likes all kinds of music, so if he works with all kinds of music why is that a sellout move, just because you want him to do just hip hop?  Is Snoop a sellout for doing a few songs with Willie Nelson?  Hell no, and neither is Timbo.

Same with Mayer Hawthorne.  Hawthorne doing this video is not in contrast to who he is or what his image is.   It seems to be something he genuinely likes and in that sense this is NOT a sellout move.  If he didn't like it and just did it for the money, that'd be another thing.  However that doesn't seem to be the case here.

No one calls Kiefer Sutherland or George Clooney or Brad Pitt sellouts for doing commercials for Japanese soft drinks or whatever over in Japan.  You think they drink that stuff?  Or use whatever products they're hawking?  Possible, but doubtful.

#HowDoYouDo Houston, TX?
So lay off Mayer Hawthorne.  The guy is making great music and having a ball doing it, while entertaining everyone that comes to see him.  By all appearances he's extremely humble and down to earth and he's simply having a good time.   

He's a warm and engaging person and I especially like how on twitter he will post photos of him with the crowd at all of his live shows with his hashtag #HowDoYoDo addressed to whatever town he's in.

Kudos to him for taking advantage of his love of Hennessy and making this incredibly infectious video that I can't stop singing in my head.  

And I don't even drink.

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