Pop Goes the Ad: Pop Songs in Commercials

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"I normally like the way old songs are recycled into commercials. Sometimes it’s because it’s really well done. But often I just love hearing whether or not a song can stand up to being corrupted and defiled and rewritten or decontextualized. I love to see what happens in those situations. I really think in a way that the very best songs, the songs that we most love and treasure ought to be reduced to this level to see if they can stand up to this horrible punishment." (Greil Marcus, Addicted to Noise interview, 1997)

A friend posted a video compilation today of a bunch of ads that use great pop songs (I'll phrase it that way rather than "a bunch of great ads"--that's the point of this poll). We'd been talking recently about the Marcus quote above and the new Apple/Delta 5 commercial; pretty sure he had those two things on his mind when he put this together.

If you find all commercials that use pop songs you love loathsome, I do understand that--I find most commercials obnoxious, and over the years I've learned (or at least I tell myself this) to tune them out. But some of these I really love (most I'd never seen until today). If you can look past any objections to their very existence, vote for the ad you think is aesthetically the best--not your favourite song (obviously that's going to have a lot of influence), and don't not-vote for whatever company you hate the most.

Almost every ad is in its entirety; the "Rock and Roll"/Cadillac ad was cut some because of length. They're listed in order of appearance.


Poll Results

"Ça plane pour moi," Plastic Bertrand (Hovis) 2
"Everybody's Happy Nowadays," Buzzcocks (AARP) 2
"Teen Age Riot," Sonic Youth (Marc Jacobs) 2
"Happy Jack," the Who (Hummer) 1
"Happy When It Rains," Jesus & Mary Chain (Chevy) 1
"Rock and Roll," Led Zeppelin (Cadillac) 1
"Mind Your Own Business," Delta 5 (Apple) 1
"I Feel Love," Donna Summer (Target) 0
"What Do I Get," Buzzcocks (Toyota) 0
"Search and Destroy," Stooges (Nike) 0
"I'm Not Like Everybody Else," Kinks (IBM) 0
"Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)," Pet Shop Boys (Allstate) 0
"It Wasn't Me," Chuck Berry (Amazon) 0
"She's Not There," Zombies (Chanel) 0
"Over, Under, Sideways, Down," Yardbirds (Chevy) 0

clemenza, Thursday, 10 June 2021 00:28 (one week ago) link

I don't think I'd ever heard "It Wasn't Me" until today--not on any of the Golden Decade compilations.

clemenza, Thursday, 10 June 2021 00:31 (one week ago) link

I don't know if it's because I've barely watched actual tv in almost a decade, or if it's because quite a few of these commercials seem British, but I don't think I've ever seen of these commercials before in my life.

MarkoP, Thursday, 10 June 2021 15:12 (one week ago) link

I'm guessing a number of them are British, including the one I'll probably vote for, the Plastic Bertrand--fantastic. The girl jumping around on the bed reminds me of Zero de Conduite. All for a bread company!

clemenza, Thursday, 10 June 2021 16:08 (one week ago) link

I don't understand why the Delta 5 one seems to have struck a nerve (among music nerds, I mean). I'd never even heard of that band, never mind that song, until people started griping about the commercial.

I think pop songs are perfectly suited to commercials. I have never understood the problem. Some of those - the Hovis commercial, the Hummer commercial - are very nice little short films. The fact that there's a corporate logo tacked on at the end is almost incidental.

but also fuck you (unperson), Thursday, 10 June 2021 19:20 (one week ago) link

If you can look past any objections to their very existence

I object to the implication that we should

there are few things I relate to less than the ability to watch a second of TV advertising without wanting to break something

Left, Thursday, 10 June 2021 19:56 (one week ago) link

That version of "Over Under..." isn't the Yardbirds: close, but the singer is definitely not Keith Relf.

Found this other version of that ad with "Woo Hoo" by the's.


blue whales on ambient (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 10 June 2021 20:11 (one week ago) link

One of my favourite songs, and I was duped--ouch!

(xpost) Well, as I said up front, I hate enough commercials myself that I understand. But I hate them on aesthetic grounds, not moral or ethical; unperson's "nice little short films" is much closer to my own view. Liking a really well done commercial is not that different to me that taking aesthetic pleasure from a song or a film that came into being primarily to make a busload of money--Jaws, as an example. Spielberg brought art to that; he could just as easily thought of nothing but the money and produced something crude and worthless. (If he had, though, I doubt the film would have made as much money.)

clemenza, Thursday, 10 June 2021 20:22 (one week ago) link

That Chevy commercial with the other song does nothing for me; the (fake) Yardbirds are integral to the overall effect.

clemenza, Thursday, 10 June 2021 20:24 (one week ago) link

Agree; I know (and like) the 5,6,7,8's song but it doesn't work nearly as well with that footage as the Yardbirds song (which I'd never heard before today).

but also fuck you (unperson), Thursday, 10 June 2021 20:39 (one week ago) link

The Allstate/"Opportunities" is the only one of these I can recall having seen out in the wild; I don't really watch anything that requires enduring commercials anymore (only Jeopardy, really), and I suspect that quite a few of these don't play on Canadian television anyway.

I quite like the Hummer/"Happy Jack" (voting for that), the Marc Jacobs/"Teen Age Riot" and the Apple/"Mind Your Own Business" ads (don't know who Delta 5 are, and wasn't aware of the controversy). None of these made me angry--I've lived with pop songs in ads my whole life, so I'm probably just as used to hearing a lot of songs that way as I am hearing them in movies--though the Target/"I Feel Love" one is a bit tacky.

edited for dog profanity (cryptosicko), Saturday, 12 June 2021 17:17 (one week ago) link

i loathe adverts with irrational passion but i kinda like the Marc Jacobs ones

Full Kit Starmer (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 12 June 2021 18:28 (one week ago) link

I do too--but not even one of these (though a couple are underwhelming).

I'm pretty close to crypto:

1. Plastic Bertrand
2. Who (perfectly in sync with the song)
3. Delta 5 (probably--I've looked at it a few too many times already)

The Marc Jacobs is great, it's just so short--leaves me wanting to hear more of the song.

I used to love the iPod ad with Feist, though not as much as the video itself.

clemenza, Saturday, 12 June 2021 19:47 (one week ago) link

I dare a North American bread company to use Elton Motello's "Jet Boy, Jet Girl" in their next ad. I double-dare them.

clemenza, Saturday, 12 June 2021 20:02 (one week ago) link

".. the smell of DOUGH is such a high..."

Mark G, Saturday, 12 June 2021 22:37 (one week ago) link

oh yeah I remember the Marx Jacobs one that was rad, def voting for that

brimstead, Saturday, 12 June 2021 22:39 (one week ago) link

lol typo

brimstead, Saturday, 12 June 2021 22:39 (one week ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Friday, 18 June 2021 00:01 (five days ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Saturday, 19 June 2021 00:01 (four days ago) link

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