The Madison Avenue Beat by Lester Lanin


Lester Lanin was an American jazz and pop music bandleader in the mid-1900s, known for his long, smoothly arranged medleys designed for continuous dancing. Born into a musical family in Philadelphia, Lanin’s career began in the late 1920s and his popularity increased through the advent of the LP era. One of his notable works is the album “The Madison Avenue Beat” released in 1961. This album is a unique collection of orchestral covers of famous commercial jingles from the 50s and early 60s. The tracklist includes tunes from popular brands like Mr. Clean, Budweiser, Ford, and many more. Each track is a medley, maintaining Lanin’s signature style of smooth arrangements at a consistent rhythm and tempo. In the September edition of Life Magazine of 1961, Lanin writes that these advertisement jingles are "the music of everyday America."

For reference, here are a few of the original jingles Lanin used in the first track.

Mr. Clean

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Chase and Sanborn

(begins at 14:23)

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Reflection Questions

  1. In what ways does Lanin's arrangement of advertisement tunes challenge the traditional music?
  2. What do you think it means that advertisement music is the "music of everyday America"? 
  3. How does this work engage with notions of truth, error, and perception?

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