Speculative Appliance Jingle #1
I’m creating a small series of speculative sound pieces. They’re appliance jingles–you know, the little melody newer appliances play to indicate they are done. These are supposedly more pleasant alternatives to the traditional buzzer or bell…which recall jobsite sounds, like the whistle, and in addition to being less melodic, also associate housework more directly with, you know, the drudgery of work work. I wrote about how they are composed and the way manufacturers use them in branding here. The quick summary is: many of the jingles are based on European folk and art songs that evoke pastoral scenes, and they are supposed to function as “victory” songs that make people associate their positive feelings about the jingle with the manufacturer’s brand (the point is to prevent any negative feelings we may have about, you know, having to do the effing laundry again from rubbing off on consumers’ attitudes towards the brands of appliances they purchase to assist with that work).
The jingles in my series are speculative because they’d never really be installed in actual appliances (at least not by manufacturers) because these jingles express how I really feel when the laundry is finished and I need to attend to it (again). As you might expect, my feelings about the end of the washer, dryer, dishwasher, or whatever cycle aren’t the chipper, victorious ones companies like LG and Samsung want me to associate with their brands. They tend to range from ennui to irritation to something like “at last I don’t have to do this ALL by hand.”
Here is an mp3 of my first speculative jingle, which is based on the theme tune for the old 50s sitcom The Donna Reed Show. I watched the show as a kid in the 80s on Nick At Nite. A show romanticizing the life of the 50s white, middle-class, Dior-New-Look-wearing housewife, it’s like the feminine compliment to Father Knows Best (or a square version of The Marvellous Mrs. Mazel). The show, like the appliance jingles, misrepresents the drudgery of housewifery as a feel-good victory. That’s why I chose to base this speculative jingle on this sitcom’s theme song: hearing my LG washer and dryer play their chirpy jingles reminds me of this show and its too-sanguine take on The Housewife(™). In other words, the jingles and the show do similar ideological and affective work.