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Believer

Just a quick trip into the supermarket for orange juice, that's all. I'm standing in the aisle debating the merits of pulp-free versus pulp-clogged when a sweet, cheery voice floats over the speakers.

I thought love was only true in fairy tales…

I choose some juice and know I really should head straight for the checkout, but it's such a lovely tune.

Love was out to get me That's the way it seemed…

Only Neil Diamond could pen a song so jaunty. And it's the Monkees singing it, not that recent inferior cover version. And I'm a dork so I know all the words. So I swagger down another aisle and sing. I feel like Elvis in a dodgy musical, where he's walking down a beach and hawaiian-shirted back-up singers suddenly appear from behind sand dunes, armed with ukuleles.

There's a short rolly lady and her pricing gun is loaded with REDUCED stickers. She's grinning as she attacks some blocks of cheese, because she's a dork and knows all the words too!

Disappointment haunted all my dreams.

I look around and notice that the other shoppers seem to be enjoying the song too. There's a few absent smiles and drumming of fingers on shopping trolleys, we're all gearing up for the big chorus.

Old grey banana-groping guy in the produce section: Then I saw her face!

Rather handsome lad selecting tomatoes: Now I'm a believer!

Everyone's right into it. It was magic. Except for the babies and grotty toddlers, they're too stupid to know a good tune. The Wiggles, pah!

I'm in love…

The checkout chick with violent red lips (scanning large box of Rice Bubbles) harmonises with the Eagled-Eyed Customer (making sure she gets the Bubbles at the sale price, dammit): Ooooooooooooooooooohhhhh…

It's interesting to watch other people to see if they fancy themselves as a lead singer or if they wait for a harmony or just pipe up occassionally in the background; whether they audibly sing or just move their lips; whether they scrunch up their forehead with feeling or nod their head.

Miss Permed and Peroxided in queue reading Who Weekly and discreetly picking undies out of arse: I'm a believer, I couldn't leave her if I tried.

Baldy man with air guitar action: Durn da durn durn durrrrn!

I wander down the baking aisle during the second verse, humming and wondering if there's anything else I need to buy. I pick up a box of Green's 97% Fat Free Chocolate Mud Cake Mix. I think that a 97% Fat Free Cake couldn't contain enough mud to be tasty, would be more like dirty water really. But I want it anyway. Soon we've belted out the second chorus and it all goes crazy. I am swearing and shoving my ageing credit card in and out of the machine in time with the fade out, thinking vaguely that I'd have had enough cash if I'd stopped at the juice, but now I needed Mr Visa for all this unnecessary shit I'd accumulated.

The next song is an Eagles chestnut and somewhere there is a crack team of behavioural marketing gurus watching us on surveillance tapes and cackling with glee.

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


32 thoughts on “Believer

  1. You’ve done it again! This one brings back too many memories of dancing through the aisles of the supermarket. My ex couldn’t handle that… maybe that’s why she’s my ex.

  2. This sounds a bit like the experience ericmonkey and I had at the Smith Street Thai-Viet restaurant last night. We got to slurp on our noodle soups while we were serenaded with piped synthesised jivebunny muzak, covering everything from Britney Spears to the Beatles and Stevie Wonder. Funkeeeee!

  3. That sounds a lot more fun than my local Coles. I need to go to your supermarket, obviously. And your gym. Got an extra room?

  4. heh, I sing loudly. And finger dance. — and look people in the eye when I’m doing it. It really unnerves people. Only crazy people sing and dance to the music in the stupidmarket. And me. Who is not crazy. Honest.

  5. I loved this! I had a music-video image in my head of singing shoppers while I was reading it.

  6. The inclusion of the song in Shrek didn’t help matters. “I’m a Believer,” much like another Diamond song thrown away to UB40 known in modern vernacular as “Red Red Wine,” now resides just outside the edge of the corpus callosum of nearly every person born since 1947. The song has not only aged well, but it has been utilized for commercials and has hit more Muzak circuits (perhaps unfairly) than Ohio Express’s “Yummy Yummy Yummy,” a song that came one year later and was used in a Monty Python sketch.

    “I’m a Believer,” amongst many other songs is a testament to one tenable reality: Neil Diamond is a magnificent songwriter, but inevitably people forget his original versions. “I’m a Believer” is remembered as a song written by the Monkees. Urge Overkill gets hitched to “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon.” And of course, there is the UB40 problem.

    It doesn’t help matters for Diamond much when he sings. He has a silly angst-ridden voice which, while laudable in some kitschy capacity, is rendered positively ridiculous through such covers as his version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Thus, the quandary. Diamond is somehow pinned down as a regular on the Vegas-Reno casinos when the songs he writes are considerably more than that. Someone save the man from his predicament before it’s too late.

  7. If only supermarkets in Boston were that entertaining…perhaps then I would not view a 40 minute search for a pint of creamy caramel crunchy nut ice cream as a waste of time.

  8. miss shauny you make me laugh. herre i am with a galeforce hangover and you’ve got me smiling and laughing so much my eyes hurt.

    you rock!!

  9. miss shauny you make me laugh. herre i am with a galeforce hangover and you’ve got me smiling and laughing so much my eyes hurt.

    you rock!!

  10. Great post! I especially liked the part about the behavioral marketing gurus; that never occurred to me, but I bet they *are* our there. Scary, but, on the other hand, you did have a fun time, and you did spend more than you originally intended, so I guess it worked.

  11. Hmm.. have you ever danced to ‘Grease’ down a shopping aisle? Complete with all the “Grease Lightning” movements? 🙂 I have. I highly recommend it.

  12. i hate it when they put cheesy music on because i always get lulled into a kind of trance, where i grab for the nearest shiny, coloured, pretty thing (“ooh… shi….neeeee…..”) and then exit the shop wiping the drool off my chin and wondering why the hell i bought 7 kinds of tinned kidney beans and that new bacon flavour spam in a can instead of a litre of milk and a loaf of bread.

  13. Y’see, here, in the wonderful world of Tescos, we don’t get such beautiful music. You get those fairly eerie instrumental versions of pop songs. Yes, the ones with tooting saxophones and fanfares. And really, I mean, come on, can you see anyone dancing to that?

  14. Scrumptious, Shauny, scrumptious! I once had a curious moment when Eric Carmen’s ‘Hungry Eyes’ came blaring thru Coles while I was selecting cotton buds in the medicinal section. I felt an almost unquenchable adolescent urge to grab the (strange) man standing next to me and pash Dirty Dancin’ style. That would have been one for the marketing gurus…

  15. Excellent, excellent. A new Shauny classic.

    When I worked as a teenager at the King’s Plaza branch of Peoples Drug Store (a now defunct East Coast U.S. chain), they put in this system of looping cassette tapes called “The Peoples Drug Satellite Radio Network.” One tape was a 20-minute loop of announcements which imitated a DJ breaking in between songs and had irritating promotions. The other was about 45 minutes of pop songs (changed biweeklyat most –often left in by lazy managers for months) which played one of those focus-group driven mixes of baby-boomer favorites. This produced some odd moments — nothing like cleaning up the painkiller aisle while Donald Fagen is warbling away about the pleasures of smoking opium(“Tonight when I chase the dragon/the water will turn to cherry wine”) — I used to wonder if anybody else noticed.

  16. while it is all fun and dancing games for you consumers … please spare a thought for us poor workers!!
    my loo-ong uni degree means i have spent eight years serving you better at my local coles. there are about ten ‘loop tapes’ that coles owns and each goes for just over an hour. i have heard them all 34,856,887 times.

    [in an insidiuos move, the tapes are special thin material-if you put normal tapes in the machine they will be chewed!]

    one does have ‘now i’m a believer’ on it -and ‘hungry eyes’- and a few [FEW] other bop-worthy tunes. The rest are pure crap.

    One of the worst is an absolute blood-bath trying to pass as a cover of ‘light my fire’. If you are ever in a coles and this gem comes on please start breaking things.

    that’ll teach those market researchers.

  17. Love it! I was crooning to an Eagles song over the salad section in New World only the other day. The vegetable-stacker there always whistles along to whatever’s on the stereo and we give each other a knowing smaile across the cauliflowers. Supermarket Muzak is so much better Down Under than in England.

  18. did you ever read margaret atwood’s ‘the edible woman’? i think you’d like it :p a lot of very witty supermarket consumerism rants and general good stuff.

  19. definitely the best thing i’ve read today. oh my goodness yes. sadly, the supermarkets i frequent are too crowded and crabby for a communal sing-a-long, but oh how i wish things were different.

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