Trombone Shorty is one of New Orleans’s most omnipresent figures these days, spreading the gospel of his hometown across mediums and countless collaborations. Both with his core project, Orleans Avenue, and as a soloist, TS’s cover appearances truly run the gamut: joining Jon Batiste & Stay Human to take on Allen Toussaint on The Late Show; guesting with Sheryl Crow and Warren Haynes on a Blind Faith tune; a vaunted appearance at the Obama White House, playing down the seminal “St. James Infirmary.” By comparison, Trombone Shorty’s latest cover-collaboration comes from a bit farther into left field, offering a reworked version of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation”…for a Folgers coffee ad.
As reported by Billboard, there’s plenty of inane ad-speak that attempts to justify why the commercial, and this cover, appeals to Gen Z and constitutes an ideal modern re-branding. (Also, did you know Folgers is owned by Smuckers, and that Ludacris is an ambassador for Smuckers-brand JIF peanut butter? The more you know…) Instead of letting the bigwigs talk though, we’ll let Trombone Shorty himself get to the heart of why the curious collaboration makes some sense after all (also via Billboard):
I’ve heard the song on the radio and in movies, of course. And my little sister and I watch wrestling and “Bad Reputation” was Ronda Rousey’s theme song. But she [Joan] actually sent me the original stems from the original recording. So my band and I played underneath the original vocals. We tried to get it as close to the original as possible, but of course there’s some rhythm that we use in New Orleans. Then I listened to see how we could add the brass elements. After we put down the rhythm section, which was the most important thing, we added the brass — kind of tailgating or tap dancing around the main vocal. I just wanted to make [the song] a big thing like you’re on the streets of New Orleans but on top of this punk rock thing; to just mix it up like a gumbo.
Why is it important for you to rep for your hometown and Folgers, which has deep roots in the community?
Without New Orleans there’s no me. I was born into the music here. [Because] of all the people who have taught and helped me, it’s just a job of mine to keep that going and show others around the world. This is a different type of city and not like anywhere else. So we have an obligation to represent the city and the magic that it creates. A lot of people that live here probably didn’t know that Folgers is here. To be able to represent in an ad as big as this, and with both of us being from New Orleans, it’s just a wonderful collaboration with a lot of energy. I hadn’t seen some of my friends that are playing in the commercial’s brass band during the pandemic. So when you see us approaching each other and smiling, there’s no acting there. It was a very spiritual thing and the cameras just happened to be there to capture that moment. I actually taught them the song on the spot so we could party on the street the way we normally would in a second-line parade.
Truth be told, Shorty’s version makes up only a short portion of the overall commercial, but it’s still a fun listen to hear how he takes the original track and really runs with it. Check it out below.