Levi’s Covers The Classics

Jeans giant Levi’s has just launched Pioneer Sessions 2010, a series of exclusive free downloads. Like the Dr Martens DM50 project, classic tunes are reinterpreted by contemporary artists – “Revival Recordings” as Levi’s terms it. You submit some personal details and get an email back with a link to the download. The first to launch is a version of Slick Rick’s ‘Hey Young World’ by Nas. Covers by a range of other vaguely hip artists like She & Him, The Kills and John Legend with The Roots drop in the coming weeks.

The initiative bears the bruises of compromise with record labels. Levi’s and the Cornerstone guys who put it together would no doubt have preferred global rights. Instead, you need to be based in the US, Canada or one of a handful of Latin American countries if you want the downloads, though a basic knowledge of US zip codes will get you in. Similarly the sign-up demands are more onerous than, say, those found on Topspin-powered band sites.

But the whole enterprise is beautifully put together. Like DM50, Pioneer Sessions has shot high-quality films to link the artist to the brand’s products. Though, perhaps lacking anything as iconic as the DM boot, it falls back on some slightly heavy-handed branding. “Levi’s speaks to every demographic,” drawls Nas at as if he’s reading from the company’s annual report. The website is nicely done and the sheet music visual motif is cute. Best of all, the downloads come embedded with branded artwork, which will ensure the brand benefits from the viral spread of these mp3s – a surprisingly rare thing for this type of venture.

For both Levi’s Pioneer Sessions and Dr. Martens DM50, it will be interesting to see if these new, branded versions are embraced as legitimate additions to the pop canon or just regarded as curios. That’s the trouble with iconic songs – it’s very hard for brands to own them.

One Response to “Levi’s Covers The Classics”
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  1. […] with Hince getting stuck right into those riffs (some relationship angst to work out there Jamie?) As reported previously, it’s a nice initiative, but with the bar set so high, these new takes on classics have to be […]

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