Stop The Presses!

N.E.R.D.(s) Gone Cool

Stop The Presses!

Microsoft's Zune devices haven't made the slightest dent in the market share of Apple's iPod, but the company is determined to try. Microsoft is forging ahead with a limited-edition version of the digital media player to commemorate the DVD release of the documentary Joy Division.

The Joy Division film will be preloaded onto custom black Zune 80 players, which themselves will be etched with an adaptation of Peter Saville's artwork from Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures LP.

To promote these efforts, Microsoft launched a clever (but little-seen) new ad campaign last month. The ad features mock LP covers that spell out a message to potential customers.

The commercial begins with a shot of a stack of LPs and a hand reaching into the frame to flip them. The first album-flip displays "for the love." The second flip reveals "of beats." Each subsequent album cover furthers the message ("The music never stops") and the spot ends with Zune's monthly rate. The camera twists and turns to show different piles (and different styles) of albums, and to give the spot some movement. The spot holds the viewer's attention and conveys its sales message, while tapping into nostalgic memories of music collections from long-gone days:

The song playing in the background also compliments the pace and tone of the ad. It's called "Spaz" by N.E.R.D.

The group boasts big-time artists such as Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo of the Neptunes, and rapper Shay Haley, who originally formed the band as a side project.

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Their sound is a blend of mid-'90s London drum-and-bass with other influences, including soul, alternative rock, and blues. On June 10, N.E.R.D. released its third CD, Seeing Sounds, on Interscope Records. "Spaz" is the fifth track on the album. Something should be said about the crisp, commanding hiss of the drums on all three albums. "Spaz" doesn't disappoint.

You'll soon hear another track by the band in an upcoming Converse ad--with a twist. Recently, The Strokes' frontman Julian Casablancas and N.E.R.D. joined forces to record a song called "My Drive Thru." It's being released this week as a free download to celebrate Converse's 100th birthday.

Download the tune at http://www.converse.com. Surprisingly, the collaborators don't have a name yet, but at least their song does.

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