Leave it to those musically adventurous car commercials to restart the commotion surrounding one-man British DJ group the Wiseguys.
Two years after The Antidote was released, its second single, "Start the Commotion," has been given a new life thanks to a Mitsubishi TV spot.
After the commercial began airing in June, top 40 radio stations like New York's Z-100 (WHTZ-FM) added the energetic techno track with the dance-friendly vocal hook of "Get up, get up, put the body in motion" to their playlists. While Mitsubishi USA and the Wiseguys' label, Mammoth Records, were awash in the renewed interest in the track, the buzz somehow didn't reach Wiseguy DJ Touché, a.k.a. Theo Keating. After receiving modest success in clubland with the Sasson-inspired "Ooh La La," Keating had already stepped toward the future by working on The Antidote's follow-up.
"The song was first released in [the U.K.] in 1998," Keating said, "and it did whatever it did, underground or whatever. And then, as far as I was concerned, it was finished with; the album was done, on to the next thing. And then I got a call saying, 'Oh, your track is on this commercial.' And I thought, 'What are you talking about?' I must have signed a bit of paper, but I don't remember doing it and thought nothing more of it. Tracks get licensed all the time.
"And then someone found me and said, 'It's starting to get on the radio, like proper top 40 radio.' To crack into that has always been impossible for people like me, or at least really hard. And it's just been a chain reaction that's spread like wildfire. And it's really only the past couple of weeks that it's really hit home. I've never seen the commercial, and I've never heard my track on the radio I still haven't. And here I am."
Keating speculated that the song's mix of familiar grooves delivered with a modern edge is what made "Start the Commotion" a late-blooming phenomenon.
"With that track I wanted something with a '60s feel," Keating explained. "It's quite generic, that sort of vamp. It's reminiscent of things like "Louie, Louie" and stuff like that. It's got [a similar] chord progression. I didn't want to put in stuff that sounded incongruous, so I wanted to put in a Hammond [organ] and maybe some horns and a flute."
Television and radio aren't the only places where "Start the Commotion" is heating up. The song also turns up in the upcoming Ben Stiller film "Zoolander," slated to hit theaters September 28. Given this, the video for the song has also gotten a facelift; the new version features movie clips interspersed with the existing footage, though Keating said the original cut, directed by Pedro Romhanyi (Robbie Williams, Pulp), suited the song just fine.
"After [Pedro] listened to it, he said, 'I can hear all these different elements,' " Keating said. "It was really cool because he actually spotted the genres which [parts of the song] were reminiscent of. He got them all spot on."
While some might think "Start the Commotion" has been worn thin by its multimedia usage, the adrenaline-addled ditty isn't completely exhausted. The National Football League has licensed the song for promotional spots, and each NFL team will film videos featuring its players to will be shown in stadiums, according to the Wiseguys' publicist.
Keating said he's happy that "Start the Commotion" has grown legs and is walking on its own, leaving him to concentrate on the Wiseguys' second album. "The stuff I'm doing now is different," he said. "It's three years later, so obviously it's a progression. It still has me written all over it that's just intrinsic, I can't help that. I didn't want to give too much away, but it's definitely very now, very progressive and tough as hell."