John Lennon's "Instant Karma" is an unlikely choice for an advertising jingle. With future murderer Phil Spector manning the boards, the angry ex-Beatle wasted no time warning listeners, "You better get yourself together, Pretty soon you're gonna be dead." Which in fact Lennon was a decade later.
Cut to 2009, and Chase has dusted off the song for an advertising campaign, but it has focused on the shiny, happy chorus, "Well we all shine on, Like the moon and the stars and the sun, Well we all shine on..."
That's not Lennon singing on the new version, by the way. Instead Chase went edgy with British goth singer Peter Murphy, who used to front Bauhaus, a rock group famed for the song "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and for inspiring Nine Inch Nails. Cindy Mizelle, who once toured with Mick Jagger, does the backing vocals.
The spot heralds Chase's arrival in California following the purchase last fall of Washington Mutual's banking operations by its JPMorgan Chase parent. The black-and-white clip depicts such outdoor pursuits as surfing, swimming and ballooning, and a biker couple riding off into the sunset.
"This spot heralds a bright new day and so we chose a song that is upbeat, well known and classic," a Chase spokesman said in an email. "'Instant Karma' is an iconic song and the chorus, 'We all shine on', reinforces an emotional connection with the brand but also demonstrates that 'we're going to get through these trying times together.'"
The spokesman declined to discuss financial terms, and a spokesman for Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, did not return an email seeking comment.
Murphy recorded the song in full, and hopes it will see the light of day, said David Baron, who produced and arranged the tune with Murphy at a converted church in Woodstock, New York.
"Peter is currently working out the details for the new record and the final tracks have not been decided on," Baron said. "Peter would like to release Instant Karma in some fashion so I am sure it will surface."
Murphy does not appear in the Chase ad, but he can be seen as "the Blown Away Guy" in a 1980s British ad for Maxell cassettes.
(Peter Murphy photo credit: Koray Birand)