Corporate events journal, UpStage, has this week published its long-awaited paper, ‘Working Beats – the role of popular music in core message amplification and accelerated mood-management for 21st century agendas.’
A supplementary report titled ‘Conference Classics’, proposes a ‘top five’ of “tunes most widely selected for medium-to-large-scale events and forums”.
So, please find your table number, affix your name badge and begin doodling your hauntingly phallic doodle, as I replay the list here, with additional slide content from my own decades of conference-heaven.
5. Dog Days (Florence and the Machine) – exciting as it to start the countdown so à la mode, we crash straight into a couple of inconveniences: firstly, that the chief finance guy on the stage has built his script around the message ‘the dark days are over’; which error he cements with his repeated ‘as the song says’, thereby distracting a great part of the audience from his optimistic forecasts. And, secondly, despite his speaker notes and all those rehearsals, our numbers man misjudges his intro with the song’s handclappy outro, not once, but six times.
4. Proud (and what have you done today to make you feel that way?) (Heather Small) – as moved as I may be to brand this ‘timeless’, I know, of course, it’s not. Conference presenters today could feasibly have had this played to them in school assemblies by teachers nodding along with their eyes closed. For me, the chorus lyric has always carried a slightly sinister sarcastic air, as if Heather’s just caught me with her smalls. But, fair do’s, her and M People did once own corporate strategy. And Peugeot drivers.
3. It Aint What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It (Fun Boy Three with Banarama) – a stalwart of forums with themes ‘behavioural’, and a gift for any presenter who favours the neatly circular lyrical reconciliation; which he can cue back in with his final slide, or, if particularly theatrical, a finger-baton signal to the technical guys for the “and that’s what gets results” line; like he’s George Martin bringing in Ringo. And I write ‘he’ because no woman would ever do this.
2. The Edge of Glory (Lady Gaga) – another of our times, and barnstormingly bold; but the wise presenter will check the song’s sentiment is matched by the numbers guy’s view of the world – especially around ‘results’ time.
1. Song 2 (Blur) – between 1998 and 2007, conference organisers could face industry fines for knowingly allowing any corporate event to take place without Song 2. No penalty was ever collected, as every last brand manager in the UK, from Land’s End to John Lewis, arrived at rehearsals with their memory-sticked ‘mood video’ ablaze with the two-minute riot. In fairness, Song 2’s brevity did herald a significant shortening of the average marketing ‘film’; a trend now reversed by the Franco-electro ‘Hello’. Early indications from the first weeks of 2012 suggest Song 2, with its whoo-hoo, is still the ‘go-to’ for signalling that ‘change of energy’ moment following the set-up slides, or ‘how miserable the brand used to look before I got hold of it.’
© Copyright, Steve Mitchell and Fisher Lane, 2012