BROOKE GLADSTONE: Obsessively attentive listeners will have noted that the sound effort used in the Zahn promo is not, as some have assumed, a garment unzipping. It's a record scratch. It seems that the public appetite for this sound effect: [NEEDLE ON RECORD SCRATCH] does not in any way track with the public's appetite for vinyl records which, as we know, are practically dead. The scratch is everywhere as our own obsessive producer-at-large, Mike Pesca, reports.
MIKE PESCA: In a Bud Lite commercial that's currently airing, a young couple walk into a jewelry store and the woman falls in love with a diamond ring. Just as the guy starts to think about how much this'll set him back, he is distracted. What's this? [ELECTRIC GUITAR MUSIC UNDER]
WOMAN: [...?...] fantastic.
MIKE PESCA: Beckoning to him through the window is a beautiful woman holding a bottle of Bud Lite. "Do you mean me?!" his gestures say. The beautiful woman crooks a finger. The guy is drawn to her cold-filtered siren song. He can't believe it. This sort of stuff NEVER happens to--
MAN: [SHOUTING] Guy-- [NEEDLE ON RECORD SCRATCH] Who's the guy?! Who's-a this guy?
ANNOUNCER: For the great taste that won't fill you up and never lets you down.
MIKE PESCA: Oh. No. The woman wasn't beckoning to him at all. The guy is now forced to buy his fiancee a bigger diamond, and the cue that his world was about to lose all color, cut and clarity? [NEEDLE ON RECORD SCRATCH] The sound effect which says "Whoa! Wait a minute." NBC's promo department seems particularly in thrall of the record scratch. [ELECTRIC GUITAR MUSIC]
ANNOUNCER: Tuesday on an all-new Frasier, Daphne's back, and Niles has big news!
NILES: We're going to consummate our relationship! [NEEDLE ON RECORD SCRATCH] What?! [LAUGHTER] Oh!
MIKE PESCA: And for Saturday Night Live-- [MELLOW MUSIC UNDER]
ANNOUNCER: And now something every mother wants to hear-- [NEEDLE ON RECORD SCRATCH]
WOMAN [?]: I was just getting acupuncture on my rwah! [LAUGHTER]
ANNOUNCER: It's the new Saturday Night Live--
MIKE PESCA: Then there's this spot for AT&T where two teenage boys need a ride home after a Destiny's Child concert.
WOMAN: Hope on in, guy!
MIKE PESCA: And who pulls up in an abandoned parking lot but the band itself? [DESTINY'S CHILD SINGING] [NEEDLE ON RECORD SCRATCH]
MAN: File this under -- Never. Need a ride?
MIKE PESCA:Come on, kids -- get real! Destiny's Child giving you a ride home in their limo and on top of that their hit single's being played off of vinyl? According to Record Industry Association of America statistics, vinyl records account for less than one percent of all recorded music sold. But according to Bayger Smith [sp?], the director of the Destiny's Child ad, commercials use record screeches and scratches like they're going out of style, which of course they are.
BAYGER SMITH: We always know, you know, at the end of the meeting - we haven't cracked it - someone goes well, we can always put a record scratch on it! Well, good job Bob! Way to go, Fred. Sort of congratulate ourselves and-- it's going to be funny now -- and move on.
MIKE PESCA: Even after he decides to use the record scratch, Smith still has choices.
BAYGER SMITH: There's different ones. There's that Rrrrrrt. There's that Rrrrrrit! You know, there's Kkkrrrrrrk! I feel very passionate about the record scratch. [RECORD SCRATCH]
JOHN ABOUD: I mean it's very rare that I'm writing anything that couldn't benefit from a vinyl record scratch.
MIKE PESCA: John Aboud [sp?] is co-founder of modernhumorists.com. To Aboud the record scratch harkens to days gone by.
JOHN ABOUD: It wasn't uncommon at the turn of the century for-- a pair of lovers to be dancing to a phonograph in their parlor when the jilted suitor would burst into the room and you know, rip the needle off the phonograph and the, the lovers' reverie would be interrupted by this, you know, brutish thug and that was a classic symbol that carried on into many of our cartoons-- many of our commercials -- it's part of our collective unconscious.
MIKE PESCA: Aboud's jilted suitor scenario supposes the record is a 78 being played on a victrola; hardly a reference for the average Destiny's Child fan. I asked real live teenagers Niasia Hoskins [sp?] and Charmayne Satler [sp?] what they thought the sound effect was.
YOUNG WOMAN: A recording that just stopped, like-- Rrrrrp!
MIKE PESCA: What is that sound?
YOUNG WOMAN: I have no idea. [LAUGHS]
MIKE PESCA: You don't know what that sound is?
YOUNG WOMAN: What? A recording stopping?
MIKE PESCA: Yeah.
YOUNG WOMAN: A recording stopping. [LAUGHS] [LAUGHTER]
MIKE PESCA: So what would produce that rrrrrip?
YOUNG WOMAN: Oh - pausing the-- the, the tape or the recording? I don't -- I don't know.
MIKE PESCA: What about-- like a vinyl record?
YOUNG WOMAN: I know I saw it on TV - makes that noise.
MIKE PESCA: Have you ever seen that in real life?
YOUNG WOMAN: I don't think so.
MIKE PESCA: As media moves towards extinction, it leaves artifacts behind. We listen to a "dial tone" before we "dial" the phone even though almost all phones are made with buttons. The record scratch was once an annoying consequence of mis-using the medium, but now -- it's genuine music. [RECORD SCRATCH MUSIC] [GROUP OF FANS CHEERING] When it comes to vinyl, it may be that the only thing that avoids the slag heap of history is the slag itself. [ENERGETIC RECORD SCRATCHING] For On the Media, I'm Mike Pesca. [FANS CHEERING] [RECORD SCRATCH MUSIC]