Why I Hate The Felice Brothers' Cover of "This Magic Moment" in the Dell TV Commercial

Even if you are an infrequent TV viewer, chances are you've seen the Dell commercial that uses as a music bed a cover of the great Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman song "This Magic Moment" originally performed by Ben E. King and The Drifters and later covered by Jay and The Americans among others. The only ads running more frequently are the ones that say "your erectile dysfunction is a matter of blood flow".

The first time I heard that Dell spot the song cover made me cringe. I hated it! Hate! Hate! Hate! Look, if you love music, you can also hate music and I hate that cover!

By about the tenth time I hated it even more. The hate was cumulative. I started thinking: am I alone in this? So I Googled "Dell ad, The Magic…." and before I could finish it came up numerous times. I went to a site called Adfib.com and found a long thread about the spot in which most people also hated it. I mean they shared my hate! I posted a few times but it seemed as if no one really got the heart of why we all hated it (though a few actually liked it). So I made this video to explain why I hate it.

Billf's picture

Agreed! Because of that ad, I will never buy a Dell product again.

Devil Doc's picture

I'm a musical snob, so I never cared for the original, but this "interpretaion" is easily the worst I've ever heard.

barrysconspiracyworld's picture

I just listened to it.

In this horrendous version, the artist makes no effort to convey the preciousness or the magic of the moment.  He makes it more ordinary.

Good call Michael. 

I had seen that commercial once, but didn't pay attention, other than to think "Now, that's a butchering."  I doubt my TV even stayed on the same channel for the duration.


Rick James gets it -- I just listened to his version to get the taste out of my ears. He's such a good singer, even if that version gets a little clunky toward the end.

Paul Boudreau's picture

If your hatred lasts longer than four hours, please consult your physician.

Michael Fremer's picture

Loved that comment!

Paul Boudreau's picture

...and make sure to take the bus so everyone can see!

Trace's picture

is in his own inimitable way actually a well thought out piece that causes me to think. Sure I could pass over the commercial and view it as another ad with an old standard but instead I now view it as some piece of Madison Ave. schlock by some someone who I am sure considers themselves clever for this 30 seconds of fame. Hope this is not on the Super Bowl. GO HAWKS !!!!!

my new username's picture

It's tough to take a message and a meaning, reveal it in a new light that still preserves the original intention, which the Felice Bros. don't. 

But ya know, unless you're talking about so-called baroque pop, today's pop music isn't largely about grand visions, which are maybe seen as quaint today by a non-dreamer and jaded audience. It's often an in-your-face dance extravaganza or a minimal, purposely lo-fi "indie" shoegaze philosophy which I suppose is meant to demonstrate extreme and excuciating precious tenderness or something. 

Regardless, getting the basic melody wrong doesn't make you clever. It just means you don't know the melody, can't sing it, or worse (which is likely the case here) don't respect it enough to think it's worth singing.

And yeah I tend to be "a purist" when it comes to that most-reimagined of songs, the Star Spangled Banner. I prefer the vocal sung straight and w/o gross embellishment, although if a gifted instrumentalist wants to take some liberties and does it either with class and/or in a way that definitvely captures the feeling and the sentiment of the era, as Hendrix did--bring it on.

Billf's picture

Do you think that Dell included such a butchering of the song to make it so bad that it would get all of our attention? Sort of like the old saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity. I hope this isn't the start of a new boomer-directed cynical trend in advertising.


Ortofan's picture

Speaking of the Star Spangled Banner, what makes me cringe is hearing the word banner incorrectly sung (with an extra note added to the "ban") as "ba-an-ner-er" instead of properly as "ban-ner-er".

Jim Tavegia's picture

Tried to find the commercial on YouTube, but couldn't track it down.  I do have my last Dell computer, a laptop upstairs that was a nightmare once it reach the 3 year mark took a new mother board and numerous batteries later, my son uses it now with Lynx after scrubbing the HD of all Windows material. 

Nothing like commercials motivating an audience. I'm not a video guy, so I'll bet the audio is not much more than 256k...good enough for TV I guess. 

Ortofan's picture

The commercial seems to be referred to as "Beginnings".

You can view it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vFuKhk_T04

my new username's picture

Dell's CEO is named Steve Felice.

(But they're from NY; he's from PA)

patony407's picture

Congratulations...I never made it more than 5 seconds into that commerical before changing stations.  This is just another example of heights current music has reached. I propose that the grammaphone on the Grammy be changed to a plated ice pick so that it can represent the fact the listening to most current music ( I use that term loosely) can quickly be followed by inserting the pointed item into ones ears to stop the pain.  If it is not some whining little woman child, its some thump, thump, thump mumbo jumbo, or everyones out of step but me lament.  Add to this the fact that the quality of many of these recordings is less than stellar (pretty crappy), I am left with one question;  What has happined to music? 


DLKG's picture

Wow such drama for nothing.  It's just a stupid commercial.  Who cares.....

Michael Fremer's picture

Apparently more people than you might think. I don't care about a stupid commercial but I do care about a stupid cover.

srmusic's picture

but your hair! - have you been putting your wet finger into light sockets again!!

Michael Fremer's picture

Yes, I had a bad hair day but it was the right moment to turn the video camera on and proceed without a script so I did it and for a change wasn't vain.

Paul Boudreau's picture

Hey, the hair was "modern," like David Tennant as Dr. Who:


Seeburg's picture

Check out Lou Reed's version on "Till the Night is Gone" A Tribute to Doc Pomus. Lou loved Doc and Doc loved Lou.  You can feel it throughout the song

smig's picture

some years back  Janis Joplin's 'Piece Of My Heart'  was butchered by Faith Hill.  I remember cringing whenever I heard it.  It sounded like a jingle, almost happy.  I would want to scream... 'you're getting your heart ripped out for god's sake'!!

MMaterial's picture

I liked each version, in its own way.  

I also liked "Le Sacre Du Printemps" on first hearing. 

BTW, for critical listening, I find it best to keep my head tllted at 92 degrees.



PS:  Report your recent accident to the R.I.A.A. (Road Incident Accountability Authority)

Michael Fremer's picture

Now that's funny!

Don E.'s picture

And so appropriate. The Drifters and Jay and the Americans knocked that song out of the park. Whoever sings it in the Dell commercial sounds like he is having a blood flow problem, if you get my drift.

tlat.com's picture

Hey Mikey, I"m sure your right on but I'm proud to say that I've see this ad, a few times, but never heard it. I DVR most shows and fast forward thru the commercials without sound stopping only if the commercial catches my interest. I can only pray that at least the right folks get paid royalties for this classic tune. Thanks again Mikey for another excellent "spot"

John C Freeman's picture

Hello Mikey,

The version of this Magic Momment is bad agreed.  But not all covers are bad. I know the fidelity on You-Tube is bad, but this on day of Pete Seeger's  passing this cover is is worth listening too.  Enjoy.



Jim Tavegia's picture

Terrible performance.  Surely given the boot on American Idol on the first performance. Nice of Dell to take credit or think they they can hope to push along the next great idea. 

The reality is that Truth in Advertising died decades ago.  You can say and do anything in commercials today and it be true, or a lie, mean it, or not. Their disclaimers are getting as long as the side effects for pharmacology. 

Ever since the auto industry heard that pigs could fly, drive and buy car insurance, they figured out cars can fly as well. 

malvrich's picture

The one that really ground my gears was the recent iPhone ad that featured a buthchered "mashup" or whatever of my beloved "Can You Get To That".

lensimons's picture

That cover is powerful! Few commercials cause me to jump for the remote's mute or channel change button more urgently than that one.

Normally I just try to ignore bad commercials, but the bastardization of "This Magic Moment" in Dell's ad is beyond egregious. I'm not exactly a huge fan of the original(s), but the total disregard for its songcraft demonstrated by this cover band is pathetic. And it hurts my ears.

Thanks for the entertaining rant, MF!

skipperjay's picture

I would think that anyone who was familiar with the Drifters wonderful version of This Magic Moment would be revolted by this pathetic facimile. 

timorous's picture

Hey Mikey, you really need to relax and just let things be. You don't need any more stress in your life, I'm sure. Besides, that erectile disfunction is just as much caused by excessive stress, as it is 'bloodflow'.

To be fair, I did listen to the ad on YouTube just now. You're right..it's totally lame and misses the whole point of the melody. Totally blazé delivery. I guess Dell couldn't get the rights for the Drifters version, or maybe they thought the original was too 'dated'. Whatever. 

I'm wondering whether you would have given it any attention if you'd never heard any previous versions..of course not. But it's still no reason to get all hot and bothered about it. Take a deep breath and let the thing go. That's what that mute button on the tv remote is for...

Luckily, I don't watch tv at all, so I could care less.

Jay's picture

It's a rotten cover Mikey, no doubt about it.  But honestly you'll find much worse on any of the so called "talent" shows between commercial breaks.

Glotz's picture

And Doc Pomus as well, as that magic moment is so very fleeting indeed:

They call you ecstasy
Nothing ever sticks to you
Not velcro
Not scotch tape
Not my arms
Dipped in glue

Not if I wrap myself in nylon
A piece of duct tape
Down my back
Love pierced the arrow
With the twelve
And I can't get you back

Ah Ecstasy



That song sends shivers up my spine every time.  Listen to it now.

jlstrat's picture

If you know and love the song, this just does suck the life out of it. What's remarkable is how it has the same predictible spare melody line that so much current pop music has. Let them do that to one of their own songs.

Bill1957's picture

I have not been as irritated over a song in a commercial, since the butchered version of that iconic Beatles song, "In My Life", in the Sleepy's Mattress ad. My complaint at that time was: if you cover a song, how can you change the melody? If you change the melody, you adding your own, lesser talent to get in the way, and you change the entire feeling of the song. You make it suck and you piss off a generation of people.

If I cover one of the Bach cello suites on my cello, I may not play it as well as Yo Yo Ma, but I don't change the melody in order to make it sound more hip (much like the way pop singers ad 100 extra notes to the National Anthem).

Every time I see this commercial and I hear the melody destroyed, I just get angry. Cover the song, but do NOT change the melody.  Write your own damn song and leave this one alone! 

andyo5's picture

...and I am glad that in the end you finially got around to the same reason for hating it as I do. He sings it without having any feeling for what it means. The commercial is just using part of the song as a background prop to sell some sort of crap. So, does this mean that my erectile dysfunction is NOT a question of blood flow?