10 Years Ago: LCD Soundsystem Partners with Nike for ’45:33’
James Murphy, the brains and beats behind LCD Soundsystem, doesn’t jog, he doesn’t run and he didn’t set out to create an electronic workout megamix in his studio. But Murphy told a different tale when he teamed up with Nike to release “45:33,” a longform piece of music that the shoe manufacturer marketed as an ideal soundtrack for runners when it was released in October 2006.
To suit Nike, Murphy wrote that “45:33” was developed on a treadmill and was designed to accompany jogging workouts when the track became available through iTunes’ Nike Music Store. In fact, the New Yorker was merely taking the opportunity for someone else to fund an experimental music project.
“Well I lied,” Murphy confessed to The Guardian in 2007. “I made ‘45:33’ for Nike and I don’t even jog. I said I did but that was a total lie. I just wanted to make a record like E2-E4 by Manuel Göttsching. I was mourning that fact that music had changed and you could no longer make a record like that. I could have taken that into EMI but it’d be a bit pretentious. People expect songs. I wondered how I’d ever find the time and justification to do something like that, and that was perfect.”
At the time, Murphy was working on what would become LCD’s Sound of Silver and was having a rough time creatively. He later credited the Nike project not only for allowing himself to work on something different, but also for giving him parameters.
“I actually really liked the treatment they sent out because it was really specific: we want a 45-minute run, we want a seven-minute warm-up, we want a seven-minute cool-down, we need some peaks throughout,” he told Pop Matters. “I was like, this is actually awesome to have this list of crap that you’re supposed to do, just to keep yourself going.”
The studio hound created a mostly instrumental piece with six distinct sections that segued into each other. Murphy named it “45:33” after two different record formats, not its running time (which is actually 45:58). In the process of making the track, he also created the sonic backdrop that would become “Someone Great,” one of the emotional highlights of 2007’s Sound of Silver. The song is present as an instrumental, for which Murphy would write lyrics when he returned to making the album.
When “45:33” was released, Murphy and LCD were accused of selling out to a big, bad corporation, which is something the musician found amusing because he “really didn’t make very much money.” That’s due to Murphy’s demand that the rights to the music would only belong to Nike for six months, at which point they would revert to him. LCD Soundsystem has since released the piece in CD, vinyl and digital editions.
Murphy also took hits from runners, who wrote angry reviews about the track on the Nike Music Store. He also thought this was hilarious.
“Yeah, the exercise people hated it,” he said. “There’s kind of a world out there that you forget about, of dudes who run and want anonymous music to run to, and I guess it’s not a bad thing that I don’t do that very well.”
After finishing the project, Murphy returned, with new creative energy, to making Sound of Silver, which would become LCD Soundsystem’s breakthrough album in the U.S.
“Doing the Nike thing saved my ass,” he said.
The 50 Most Influential Alternative Musicians of the 21st Century