Morgan Spurlock’s new film, “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” is a documentary about product placement that’s funded entirely by product placement. Meta, right? So when we got the chance to speak with the filmmaker, we asked him to elaborate on who he thinks is a bigger sellout than himself. Find out his answer in the clip below, then click through to see our picks for the biggest musical sellouts of all time. (SPOILER ALERT: Your dad is gonna be pissed.)
The Rolling Stones
The band that started it all. Though Microsoft claims that the Rolling Stones received much less than $10 million for their services, the fact that Mick and Co. had the audacity to leak that number to the press as a means of setting a precedent for any future deals should make you sick enough to go download some of their music illegally. Ha ha, just kidding! Stealing is wrong.
You’d think arena rock band KISS wears all that makeup to hide their shame. Frontman Gene Simmons would do anything to promote his extensive line of merchandise, which includes everything from lunch boxes and Christmas ornaments to condoms and a VISA card. Oh yeah, and they even have a coffin that doubles as a cooler.
Black Eyed Peas
Fans have complained that Fergie was to blame for the group’s move from hip-hop to more radio-friendly pop music when she joined in 2002, and her influence didn’t stop there. In addition to an unconventional sponsorship deal with Candie’s worth $4 million, Fergie has joined Black Eyed Peas in ads for Pepsi, Doritos and the NBA. It got so bad that “SNL” spoofed the band’s sellout-worthy exploits a few years ago.
Metallica is the worst kind of sellout: the hypocrite. Not only did they change their heavy metal sound to appeal to a larger audience, but the band went back on its original promise to never make a music video by doing several over the course of their career. And let’s not forget about their decision to sue Napster, only to embrace the digital format years later when they realized just how much money they could make from it.
Once considered the clown princes of punk rock, Green Day would now be better labeled the kings of Top 40 following the release of American Idiot, which saw the band embrace a softer image compared to their Dookie days. They’re hardly the worst offender on this list, but any band that has their own video game and Broadway musical has sold out at least a little.
The techno-pop DJ practically perfected the art of selling out with his 1999 album, Play, which brought in millions of dollars in licensing deals months before the album itself became a hit. Moby‘s venture was so lucrative, in fact, that an equation was named after him that measures the degree to which an artist has sold out. He’s since made his music free to anyone who wants to use it, but the damage is already done.
The jumbo clock-wearing rapper lost any street cred he might have earned as a member of Public Enemy when he decided to publicly humiliate himself on reality TV and hock products like Sprint and Dr. Pepper. And this coming from the man who once responded to Chuck D’s rhyme “Yo Flav, you think we’re gonna sell out?” with: “I know if we do, we’ll get the hell out!” A more fitting answer would have been: “Yeah, boyeeeee!”
Everybody loves Ozzy Osbourne, but that’s part of the problem. Though “The Osbournes” was actually quite funny when it first premiered on MTV, it killed his image. The Prince of Darkness has also popped up in ads for Samsung, Best Buy and Brisk Iced Tea, and the worst part is, we’re not even entirely sure he was conscious while making them. If we’re going to blame anyone, perhaps it should be his wife, Sharon.
Baby boomers know them as one of the greatest rock bands of the ’70s. But anyone who didn’t have the pleasure of growing up listening to The Who knows them only as that band that sings the theme song to “CSI.” Pete Townshend doesn’t seem to care either, because he’s continued to sell his music for use in numerous TV commercials. We should have seen it coming, especially after naming one of their albums The Who Sell Out.