A case of The Weepies.

In my eternal quest for interesting and creative rock/pop artists to glean business lessons from, I've expanded my search to include acoustic performers, singer-songwriters, and contemporary folk artists.

In the process I've discovered a bonanza of twenty-first century musicians who are doing innovative (and fun) stuff. Exhibit A is the Weepies, a fast-rising indie-folk-pop duo whose music has been featured on 'Grey's Anatomy', the Sex and the City movie, and an Obama presidential campaign ad.

Deb Talan and Greg Tannen were acoustic singer-songwriters who met nine years ago at Club Passim, the legendary coffeehouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They decided to join forces and have since recorded three albums as the Weepies (and begun raising a family together).

Straight-ahead lyrics, captivating melodies, verdant harmonies—casually but skillfully delivered with a wistful undertone—are The Weepies' signature.

As I downloaded their YouTube clip 'Can't Go Back Now', produced by Brad Aldous, I held my breath, hoping they would come up with something inspired in this tired medium of music video.

Fortunately, they didn't disappoint, reminding me of the power and charm of playful simplicity—especially if done with a yank on the heart strings.

Of course this is something that design-savvy businesses (such as Apple) well understand. As Kevin Roberts pointed out in his book Lovemarks, we fall in love with brands like the iPod because of the 'emotional connection' they make with us. Having now been smitten by the Weepies, I can relate.


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15 Comments

  1. I think you're getting soft on us, Johnny, but I can't begrudge their talent. It's tough to get their tunes out of my head. I saw them in a scene on Dirty Sexy Money a few months back performing one of their songs. Yeah, simplicity works.

  2. James, I can't explain it, but I can't shake their tunes either. But their appeal isn't one dimensional. As several reviewers have pointed out, there's an undertone of longing beneath their tuneful, quirky, playful cheeriness. The puppets in the video are their alter-ego avatars. If they were a publicly traded company I'd buy stock in 'em.

  3. Nick - the Weepies actually look something like these muppets, but don't tell em I said so. They could ride this puppet theme for years. What age group does this NOT appeal to?

  4. i'll bet that a major brand like apple is going to contract the weepies for ad campaigns. catchy sound, catchy name, catchy videos. it's no wonder their tunes are on tv so much. - wm

  5. Judith, what a contrast - Radiohead and the Weepies. One celebrates the night, one celebrates the day.

  6. Thanks, Weepies. Of course I was just joshin' when I said you look like the muppets in your video. (Sorta.) But I hope you're going to feature them in "The Weepies: the Movie." I'd be willing to play the role of your cigar-chompin' manager. (You DO have a cigar-chompin' manager, don't you?)

  7. This group is GOOD...I too would buy stock in them...a refreshing sound...their songs are fun and cheerful but not shallow...the video is adorable.

  8. John – ‘Simplicity’ at its best Sir!

    By the way … Is it just me or is there something ‘Simon and Garfunkel’ at their peak about those harmonies?

  9. Trevor, now that you mention it I can hear a little S&G in there. Maybe if the Weeps check in again they can tell us who their influences are.

    A film producer and former record producer emailed me his verdict yesterday: "Holy shit, they're really good!"

    I love the simplicity of their approach - especially the understated lead vocals.

    Now that I've had my sweet music fix, I think I'll go back to banging my head on the wall to My Chemical Romance.

  10. Rebecca, I DEEPLY resemble your characterization. I bang my head against the wall for the same reason I listen to talk radio - it feels good when I stop. (But I do like My Chemical Romance, even if I ended my own 30+ years ago. I find MCR strangely relaxing.)

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