A couple months ago, you may have seen a commercial for Apple Music floating around the internet, perhaps accompanied by a praise hands emoji or an all-caps "SLAY." Unlike previous ads for the streaming service, it eschews the global "everyone listening to the same Pharrell song all the time" vibe and aims for the hyper-relatable: just a bunch of gal pals, hanging out and listening to their old favorite jams from way back when. That those pals happen to be Kerry Washington, Taraji P. Henson, and Mary J. Blige made it all the more irresistible.
It's a great ad! Selma director Ava DuVernay was commissioned to direct it, and it feels refreshingly free of market-research and industrial-grade buzz harvesting. Anyway, that was all in September, and now the ladies have reunited for yet another spot, this one featuring some pepper chopping and salsa dancing. CBS This Morning was ON IT this ... er, morning ... and tried to get to the bottom of what the ad, and Apple Music as a whole, was really about. Thank goodness Jimmy Iovine was there to explain.
"Women find it very difficult at times — some women — to find music ... and this helps make it easier," Apple Music co-founder Iovine said, talking about the service's vast hedge maze of curated playlists and suggested listening widgets. Iovine went on with his by-now-familiar line about the inauthenticity of algorithms, one-upping "human curation" by touting the "human touch" in Apple's playlists. Please Jimmy, keep it PG, this is morning TV!
At least Ava DuVernay is good at her job
Iovine in general seems to have a vivid imagination when it comes to what women do in their spare time, what they talk about, and their general level of expertise when it comes to music and technology. "I just thought of a problem, you know: girls are sitting around, you know, talking about boys. Or complaining about boys, you know, when they're heartbroken or whatever. And they need music for that, right? So it's hard to find the right music, you know. Not everybody has the right lists, or knows a DJ or something."
The fact that famous DJ-knower Jimmy's creative concept of "girls talking about boys" turned into three women discussing their favorite old tunes and dancing to Slick Rick is evidence that Ava DuVernay is good at her job. And by Blige's account, the commercials were as fun to make as they are to watch; she called it a "genius idea" to bring this group of women together.
That pile of old mix tapes in the September spot is telling, though: knowing what music to listen to didn't used to be a problem; if anything, services like Apple Music have created a problem where there was none. Good thing about those humanly touched playlists, then. They'll do until I finally find a DJ to know.
Update, 10.15PM: Jimmy Iovine has issued an apology for his remarks. The statement, made to BuzzFeed, is below:
"We created Apple Music to make finding the right music easier for everyone — men and women, young and old. Our new ad focuses on women, which is why I answered the way I did, but of course the same applies equally for men. I could have chosen my words better, and I apologize."