Luxury carmaker achieves relevance with "the kids"
August 26, 2002 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Luxury carmaker achieves relevance with "the kids" by use of Led Zep in ad. Although the article touches on Chevy's decade-long affiliation with Bob Seger, it curiously neglects to mention that Chevy ad with the Mary Chain song, or even the Volkswagen soundtrack album. Did you ever hear a favorite song in an ad or as the theme to a TV show and think "how'd THAT happen?"
posted by britain (95 comments total)
I was shocked and then disappointed and then happy that they probably got a wad of cash when I heard "Yeah Yeah" by They Might Be Giants in a car commercial. It happens.
posted by ColdChef at 8:56 AM on August 26, 2002

I'm just curious as to why there was so much hubbub about the Zep song in a car commercial but there was little to no mention of the Clash's "London Calling" in the recent Jaguar ads. Jaguar even built an entire freaking monthly special centered around the title of the song.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:57 AM on August 26, 2002

I believe it's been discussed here before, but the Clash pitching Jaguars?!?!
posted by kcmoryan at 8:58 AM on August 26, 2002

Did you ever hear a favorite song . . . as the theme to a TV show and think "how'd THAT happen?"

"How Soon Is Now" is far from my favorite Smiths songs (pretty close to least favorite, actually) but it was still a shock to hear it played (poorly) at the opening of Charmed.

I am enjoying those new Levi's ads, with music by Air and Lush . . . well, at least it sounds like Lush, but I can't place the song.
posted by mikrophon at 8:58 AM on August 26, 2002

The current Chevy campaign, using Smashmouth's "You might as well be walking on the sun" is all well and good in their national ads, but by the time it had trickled down to a local dealership, it had been edited down to:
read a sentence, play refrain "You might as well be walking on the sun", read a sentence, play same refrain, etc., for the entire commercial!

The overall effect was ridiculous.
posted by kablam at 9:02 AM on August 26, 2002

Yeah like that freaking Wranglers Ad that is all suffused in patriotic colors and which is obviously using the recent surge of US patriotism as a marketing tactic, and which features the CCR song "Fortunate Son". You only hear the first two lines of the lyrics in the ad:
"Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, they're red, white and blue."
What they left out?
"And when the band plays 'Hail to the chief',
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord,

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no.
Man that makes my blood boil. But then I think "hey, it's just TV. What difference does TV make?" and I start whistling the Gilligan's Island theme song.
posted by ericost at 9:06 AM on August 26, 2002

My absolute fave was the use of the Psychic TV song "Roman P" to sell VWs (IIRC). While it's catchy as hell ("Are you free/Are you really free/Are you reallyreallyreallyreallyreally free", that one), it is in fact about the Tate/LaBianca slayings. I always suspected that someone at the ad agency was being a bit of a smartass.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:07 AM on August 26, 2002

Yeah, "London Calling" sort of surprised me. And depressed me a little. Like the time I saw Dylan's name on a marquee in Vegas.

I don't watch much TV, but I thought I heard an INXS tune hawking something the other day. I guess this sort of surprise will wear off since hits seem to get to commercials even faster than they get to radio these days. I believe Smashmouth just delivers the masters to the ad firm at the same time the record company gets them.
posted by umberto at 9:07 AM on August 26, 2002

but by the time it had trickled down to a local dealership,

Local dealerships have always been tacky/gaudy in their advertising. I wish I had a tv capture card so I could show you some of the crap thats aired for dealers here in Milwaukee.

Back on topic: Pirelli once used an Aphex Twin (okay. Caustic Window if you want to be precise) song. It was a commercial that featured Carl Lewis running through what I think was New York, over water, etc. That made me happy. Aside from that though, I can't recall another commercial that used a song/band I was a big fan of. Some VW commercials turned me into a fan for the respective artist, Nick Drake in particular.
posted by fore at 9:07 AM on August 26, 2002

I don't care if it helps sell cars- but I am glad that more people know about Nick Drake!
posted by puddsharp at 9:12 AM on August 26, 2002

Levi's used The Clash's "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" to sell jeans to europeans back in 1991.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:13 AM on August 26, 2002

Minutemen/Volvo... Blasphemy.
Oh, and The Who selling the overture to Tommy for an allergy med. Metamucil running an ad called "my my constipation" will be next.
posted by machaus at 9:14 AM on August 26, 2002

Great fun!
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:15 AM on August 26, 2002

Jaguar even built an entire freaking monthly special centered around the title of the song.

Those are the ones that annoy me the most. Like if it's just the song playing in the background, it's not so bad. But when they start working the song into a sales slogan, it's pretty pathetic. Like using the Who's "Bargain" for a Truck sale...
posted by stifford at 9:15 AM on August 26, 2002

It's very common for ads to single out lyrics that in context make no sense or often with the entire original song would have completely contradictory meanings. Jaguar was good at this using the Propellerheads/Shirley Bassey track regarding "history repeating" for a new model roll-out overlooking the closing lyrics that advise listeners to "sidestep the little bits of history repeating." Other songs are just as amusing commercial choices. The CCR track noted above. Microsoft's "Start Me Up" campaign that neglected to note "you make a grown man cry." Clearly American consumers are dumber than we'd like to think we are.
posted by shagoth at 9:17 AM on August 26, 2002

There's a new ad out for some car (don't care which) with this extreme bubblegum soundtrack which I absolutely loved. Simple melody, simple words, almost childish in its simplicity. "I'm sticking to you, cos I'm made out of glue". I thought - wow - I love this, I've got to get this song. Sentimental, romantic & silly, nothing like the arty-farty 70's stuff they usually use. So I looked it up on the internet. And it's only written and sung by the Goddamn "Velvet Underground."
posted by seanyboy at 9:18 AM on August 26, 2002

(i like london calling!)

i was introduced to nick drake from a volkswagen commercial, as was i introduced to stereolab. so i think that music in commercials can be done well. i've watched the WB show charmed a few times, and noticed that they use the smiths' "How Soon Is Now" as their theme (sadly it is covered by some other band). so that's all quite nice. i'm still hopeful that, some day, i'll see a commercial using the Beastie Boys' "Some Dumb Cop Gave Me Two Tickets Already".
posted by moz at 9:18 AM on August 26, 2002

Hey, The Clash are pitching Stoli malt beverage now too.

And I wonder on the Jesus and Mary Chain song if someone finally told the execs..."You know, them Reid boys has been known to get a little high on occasion." I mean, I only remember seeing it for about a month or so.

"Lust for Life" on the cruise ship ads is nice. I picture the family swimming with stingrays and then cooking up once they get back to their cabin.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:18 AM on August 26, 2002

To add to soundofsuburbia's note, see this page for a compilation of songs used in commercials. Hmm, this makes for a great swap disc idea.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:19 AM on August 26, 2002

There's a car ad using a Velvet Underground song? Dear lord.

But hey, Lou sold Honda scooters so it's not too surprising.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:20 AM on August 26, 2002

Some previous discussions of this topic.
posted by rushmc at 9:22 AM on August 26, 2002

They've been increasingly using songs by the Who in commercial television over the last couple of years. How does part of the opener for "Tommy" have anything to do with allergy medicine? And "Bargain" is in a car commercial right now, with the lyrics changed from:

"I'd pay any price just to win you"
"I'd pay any price just to have you".

posted by interrobang at 9:25 AM on August 26, 2002

machaus, I too almost died when I saw that Volvo commercial, but later on I discovered (it might have been posted here, as a matter of fact) Mike Watt's rationale behind selling it.
posted by cowboy_sally at 9:25 AM on August 26, 2002

My moment of horror: Zimmy lending (selling?) his classic tune to the, gack, Bank of Montreal. The Times they are a changin', indeed.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:31 AM on August 26, 2002

rushmc: I'll be doggone. I did searches on "commercial music" and "ad music" before I posted. Somehow I neglected to run across those discussions, though even the most recent one is too old to add the link to the article (which was published today) to the discussion thread.

Oh well, let's hope I got the redundant post out of the way early.

interrobang: "Baba O'Riley" in the trailer for Disney/Pixar film "A Bug's Life." Needless to say, the music was faded way down and the dialogue way up right after "Out here in the field..."
posted by britain at 9:37 AM on August 26, 2002

The Clash ad was surprising. I've seen and heard that one. But I haven't seen or heard the ad using the Velvets' "I'm Sticking With You." That's really a shocker. It's a really sweet-sounding song, sung by Maureen Tucker -- but the lyrics tell a darker tale than the sunny sound implies:
You held up a stagecoach in the rain
And I'm doing the same.
Saw you hangin from a tree
And I made believe it was me.

It's one of those songs that you can't help singing along with. What carmaker is using it in its ads?

A couple of years ago a telecom company carpet-bombed America's airwaves with an ad featuring "Come Together" in which the lyric "She shoots Coca-Cola" was excised.
posted by Holden at 9:37 AM on August 26, 2002

Microsoft's 'Start Me Up' campaign that neglected to note 'you make a grown man cry'

Not to mention "you make a dead man come."

Is it really a surprise to see The Who sell out?
posted by kirkaracha at 9:41 AM on August 26, 2002

A couple of years ago a telecom company carpet-bombed America's airwaves with an ad featuring "Come Together" in which the lyric "She shoots Coca-Cola" was excised.

Yeah, not to mention those car commercials that used an Iggy Pop song about heroin...
posted by interrobang at 9:42 AM on August 26, 2002

I'm sticking with you. it's Hyundai - just found it. UK only.
posted by seanyboy at 9:42 AM on August 26, 2002

I've picked up some great songs from commercials. "Sticking with you was one of them", but others recently have been Dandy Warhols - Bohemian like You (vodaphone) and the JXL Elvis thing (Adidas (or maybe Nike)).
posted by seanyboy at 9:45 AM on August 26, 2002

Using Stereolab for Verizon ads was pretty bad.
posted by panopticon at 9:47 AM on August 26, 2002

I agree wholeheartedly about the comment on CCR, and with the comment about Milwaukee car commercials being incredibly tacky.

As for the Clash song, songs written by Mick Jones have appeared in commercials before, and did create debate. "Should I stay or should I go" is definitely a Mick Jones Clash song... I'm not sure on "London Calling" though.

What I found incredibly unnerving recently was the pepsi commercial munging up images from "Easy Rider."

Somedays I think young idealists should sign a contract that prevents them from sacrificing those ideals when they get older. Then other days I contemplate trying to sell my music for car commercials.
posted by drezdn at 9:55 AM on August 26, 2002

I've picked up some great songs from commercials.

Yeah, I bought Lilys' "A Nanny in Manhattan" because of a Levi's ad. *coughposer*
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:57 AM on August 26, 2002

....the Clash pitching Jaguars?!?! inspired similar shock and dismay in our household....although after seeing "Lust for Life" used to pitch a frelling cruise line ("they look like big portobello mushrooms!") I had to wonder if the suits got a lyric sheet. Not that I'll probably ever be in the market to buy most of this stuff anyway, but I suspect the nausea I feel witnessing meaningful pieces of my youth ripped wholly out of context and whored around the global village wasn't quite the effect they were going for.
posted by redshoes3 at 10:02 AM on August 26, 2002

ericost, shagoth:

i noticed how ironic (and lyrically selective) the CCR ad was, and wondered what those old boys are thinking when they have to sit through those crappy commercials.

one more blatant misuse of a song, just b/c i haven't seen it mentioned yet: Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" still pops up in Mercedes ads, but only the first line of course.

"oh lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz
my friends all drive porsches, i must make amends
worked hard all my life with no help from my friends
oh lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz"

hopefully little boys and girls are stealing the song online right now and listening to the whole thing.

this topic has obviously been around for a long time but it's good to hear people's least favorites. if i never have to hear "walking on the sun" or "walking on sunshine" in a car commercial again, i'll die a happy man.

maybe i should just give up tv.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:11 AM on August 26, 2002

I refuse to watch that new "Good Morning, Miami" show since they seem to have adopted that awful Vanessa Carlton, paino filled, teenage angst "I would walk a thousand miles" song. Not that I would have watched that show anyway. I woudn't!

I especially don't like here Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" for the GE 3D ultrasound machines. You are looking at your unborn baby! The first time ever I lay with you?! Come on.
posted by alou73 at 10:18 AM on August 26, 2002

But, in the end, who really cares? I think I'm done being bothered by the trend.

Perhaps what bothered me most about it was the thought that I wasn't as cool as I supposed, and that plenty of shmoes out there like the Jesus and Mary Chain too, and will succumb to their dulcet tones when it comes time to buy a Malibu.

Why does it bother us so much? Is it that the artist seems to be compromising his/her integrity by allowing their art to be used commercially?
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:18 AM on August 26, 2002

I am enjoying those new Levi's ads, with music by Air and Lush . . .

I saw an ad w/ an Air song (Playground Love) from the Virgin Suicides soundtrack. Perhaps it was Levi's, I don't know, since I was so surprised to hear the track in the first place, given the context of the film I associate with it.
posted by drew_alley at 10:20 AM on August 26, 2002

here's a story. it was 1992 or 1993. i was in my dorm room, watching television, and this volkswagon ad comes on. the music was really cool, very haunting. i was on this big loreena mckennitt / enigma kick at the time, so i really wanted to know just what i was hearing. the vw ad ended with a phone number...

so i walked down the hair, hopped on the kitchen payphone and dialed the 800 number. guy on the end answers and asks for my name and starts to go into a "let me send you a brochure" spiel, but before he can finish i just ask him: "so what's that music you have running in your commercials anyway?" he shuts up, sighs audibly and rattles off "sir, it's called harry's game by some group called clannad."

he then hung up. i went and bought the CD. i did not buy a volkswagen.
posted by grabbingsand at 10:20 AM on August 26, 2002

seanyboy: I like the Elvis remix (even better than the original, which was never one of the King's strongest ditties) but getting a guy with the nom-de-DJ "Junkie XL" to remix a song by a fellow killed by his decades-long addiction to pills (not to mention his XL appetite for well-done bacon and mash and gravy) shows the typical intelligence and sensitivity of the Elvis Presley Productions hacks...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:21 AM on August 26, 2002

It's a sad day as I take Led Zepplin off the artistic roll call. To quote Bill Hicks to the best of my memory: "If you do a commercial you're off the artistic roll call forever. Every word you say is suspect, you're just another whore in the corporate gangbang and everything that comes out of your mouth is now like a turd falling into my drink." Really, they were one of the greatest bands of all time and inspired countless people both musically and spiritually, do they really need to whore themselves out to car companies? Come on guys, have some respect for yourselves. I thought you were better than that. Fuck, I'm depressed now.
posted by spungfoo at 10:22 AM on August 26, 2002

I remember seeing an ad for a Catholic school that used "If You Leave" by Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark in the background. I thought that was pretty odd. Or the TV news report about racism that used Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is" but left out the "but don't you believe them" part (so it just said "some things will never change" over and over again).

As for favorite songs, though, I've begun hearing a Prefuse 73 track in a Foot Locker commercial. And Aphex Twin's music has been used all over the place (especially documentaries). If these artists can make an extra buck or two, more power to them. I can't see how commercial success makes a person's music (or writing or other art) less meaningful, assuming that person doesn't start specifically tailoring their output for advertisements.
posted by hyperizer at 10:27 AM on August 26, 2002

Songs outlive the commercials that co-opt them. It is analogous to a bout of diarrhea measured against a person's whole life. No point in getting more worked up over it than it warrants.
posted by rushmc at 10:30 AM on August 26, 2002

I heard Frank Zappa's "Peaches En Regalia" used in a cartoon once. Something about ducks. My memory is bad on this.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:30 AM on August 26, 2002

My wife gets all her new music from commercials. Case in point- Basement Jaxx. I have been listening to them for years, with her in the car.

She hears "Where's your head at?" in a pringles commercial and it's her new favorite song.

At least having this music in commercials gets it broader recognition. FC Kahuna has a song in a car commercial, so hopefully their album will get distributed in the US.

Also, if anyone can point me to the song "Grow up and Blow away" by Metric, you would be my hero. They are featured in a polaroid i-zone commercial, and I can't find it anywhere...
posted by quibx at 10:36 AM on August 26, 2002

Ray Manzarek said he turned down seven figures from a dotcom for use of the song "Light My Fire" (though he hasn't ruled out selling use of their songs in the future).

And lupus_yonderboy, the Elvis people did catch onto the possible negative association of the name Junkie XL, so that's why on the single and on the video they are labled JXL.

By the way, once I heard this good brit-pop song on a "Applied Materials" commercial, but I was dissapointed when i found out it was something just made for the commercial (discussed here). Apparently there is a 3 minute mp3 floating around somewhere.
posted by bobo123 at 10:37 AM on August 26, 2002

KevinSkomsvold, was it perhaps in Duckman? A great cartoon, featuring Dweezil Zappa as the voice of Duckman's son. Definitely better than putting FZ in a commercial.
posted by TedW at 10:42 AM on August 26, 2002

My "The Who Sells Out" moment - The opening theme to C.S.I. is "Who Are You". It's very fitting, very cool and the very first time I'd heard the song (never a big The Who fan).

The first time I came across a good song from my generation being used to sell products was "She Sells Sanctuary" by the Cult. It was for "Molson Ice" beer, and it was about 10 years ago. The ad was extra freaky for me because it had the blonde villian from Die Hard doing the pitch. I half expected Bruce Willis to leap out and starting kicking his ass.
posted by grum@work at 10:46 AM on August 26, 2002

A friend of mine interviewed Pete Shelley from the Buzzcocks a couple of years ago, and he said they made more money selling "What Do I Get?" to Toyota than they had in their entire career up to that point.
posted by greengrl at 10:47 AM on August 26, 2002

...and when I heard that "Party Hard" song in a beer commercial, all I could think was "No, not you too Andrew WK?!?!"

(heavy sarcasm)
posted by stifford at 10:56 AM on August 26, 2002

Oh my, TedW. I googled the piss out of that song to try and remember. Thanks!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:57 AM on August 26, 2002

i'm surprised nobody's mentioned Moby yet.
posted by fore at 10:59 AM on August 26, 2002

I got a kick out of hearing Real Wild Child used to sell Little Tikes toys. Imean, is this the guy you want selling your kids toys?
posted by TedW at 11:00 AM on August 26, 2002

Didn't the Jesus and Mary Chain song 'Sugar Ray' appear on a ice beer commercial about 10 years ago?
posted by jasonspaceman at 11:07 AM on August 26, 2002

stifford: Andrew WK has already had his own thread....
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:08 AM on August 26, 2002

I've never figured out what song they used for that wedding VW commercial. The one where the guy is racing to the wedding and gets there just as a man and a woman are getting married. I think the tagline was "fasten your seatbealts". Anyone?
posted by jragon at 11:11 AM on August 26, 2002

I almost had a heart attack when I heard the shins in a McDonalds ad.
posted by brand-gnu at 11:12 AM on August 26, 2002

speaking as one of the kids who sells those songs to the advertisers via ad agencies: the artists are happy to sell their work. why? the agencies are staffed with people who genuinely like the music. music usage payout is considerably higher than per-album sales, and that's dollars counted in the thousands. anyone who's willing to damn an artist for making a quick buck off an industry nobdy much believes in is being a bit simple-minded about the issue.

if the client has half a brain (rare), they know that if they work is cooler than they are they get bonus points. levi strauss knows this and lives by it...remember flat eric?

last week i pitched swayzak, george sarah, thievery corporation, and lush to orbitz. crucify me.
posted by patricking at 11:14 AM on August 26, 2002

jragon: Apparently it was made by a guy called J Ralph. View the commercial here.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 11:21 AM on August 26, 2002

As it turns out, the song does not remain the same...
(especially when you spend your rock star retirement shooting your pension fund up your arm)
posted by BentPenguin at 11:22 AM on August 26, 2002

I'm still trying to pitch the Minutemen to Time-Warner.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:22 AM on August 26, 2002

I'm waiting on The Residents to start pitching Visine.
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:31 AM on August 26, 2002

I still can't get over a car commercial using the Velvet Underground song (Not any VU song, mind you, just that one). All I can hope is that Mo Tucker is at least getting some money for that since it's her voice. But all the money's probably going to Mr. Reed who also has had "Perfect Day" show up during the superbowl as an ad for the NFL (which made me laugh and laugh and laugh. . . ). These days commercials are the only way for some bands to appear on the radio. If clearchannel won't play the song, they most certainly will play the commercial. I think there's something to this whole thing. I mean, geez at least patricking and the ad agencies have good taste. We could be bombarded with gap and car commercials that only play smashmouth, that "I just wanna fly" song, and all those other songs 6 flags use to sell their theme parks.
posted by rodz at 11:32 AM on August 26, 2002

Now that I think about it some more, Iggy Pop's "Lust For Life" comes to mind as another song I really like that's been used in a commercial. Some cruise liner company, I forget who.

I guess that shows just how well some of these ads work.
posted by fore at 11:36 AM on August 26, 2002

I don't care if it helps sell cars- but I am glad that more people know about Nick Drake!

I always wanted Nick all to myself. Something about his music makes me want to be the only one who listens to it.
posted by davebush at 11:55 AM on August 26, 2002

My absolute fave was the use of the Psychic TV song "Roman P" to sell VWs ... I always suspected that someone at the ad agency was being a bit of a smartass.

the VW ads are done by a firm here in Boston, and the creative team is legendary for being a bunch of jerks. they see themselves as gods of the culture, it's kind of scary. they also subtly put their own names into the ads, like on the mailboxes in the "Yo, Cooper!" spot. note also there are z-e-r-o women in VW ads. gripe gripe gripe...

on an interesting note though (and one that's on the freakin' topic), "Pink Moon" was not the original choice for that Cabrio spot, they were going to use "Under the Milky Way Tonight" by The Church. that oughta fan the flames of the "Nick Drake is MY personal Jesus!" crowd...
posted by serafinapekkala at 12:05 PM on August 26, 2002

I've mostly stopped feeling let down with artists selling their work to commercials, so long as they aren't preaching against this sort of behaviour in their art. I'm mighty disappointed in The Clash though, after seeing two different ads (the car and booze ads mentioned above) featuring their songs recently. I mean, "Should I Stay or Should I Go" is a fluff song, so it's not so bad, but "London Calling"? Ack.
posted by picea at 12:09 PM on August 26, 2002

I crack up every time I see the cruise line commercial that uses Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life." Of course, they skip this whole part until they get to the chorus:

Here comes Johnny Yen again
With the liquor and drugs
And the flesh machine...

And for a short time last year, Johnson & Johnson was using Randy Newman's "I'm Different" to sell Band-Aids, I think...I only saw the commercial once. The song sounds so whimsical, right up to the line that says, "Ain't gonna play your goddamn game."
posted by Phaedrus at 12:21 PM on August 26, 2002

I just wanted to make sure everyone knew that Lust for Life is being used in a cruise ship commercial.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:24 PM on August 26, 2002

i just saw this on k10k. it's got all the songs currently in UK commercials. pretty cool. (thanks to mschmidt.)
posted by moz at 12:43 PM on August 26, 2002

jragon: I chased that song for several months. It's called "A Million Miles Away" and is included on a CD named "Music to Mauzner By" by Spy (aka J. Ralph). Unfortunately, they released the CD twice -- once without the song and once with it. It doesn't appear on the track listing on either CD, so you have to be careful. The one with the song is available on Amazon (after a long hiatus).
posted by joaquim at 12:53 PM on August 26, 2002

The Bill Hicks quote is: "Here's the deal, folks. You do a commercial - you're off the artistic roll call, forever. End of story. Okay? You're another whore at the captialist gang bang and if you do a commercial, there's a price on your head. Everything you say is suspect and every word that comes out of your mouth is now like a turd falling into my drink." (Not that the quote was so far off, but there's just nothing like true Bill.)
posted by redshoes3 at 1:03 PM on August 26, 2002

I suppose that this whole trend dpresses (some of) us since we continue to identify with what we once perceived as our rebellious, iconic leaders; and if they are selling out it is that much harder to keep from recognizing that we have probably sold out, too.

It's almost impossible to survive and not sell out to certain extent. We don't like it, but most of us do it. But it's hard to watch the hard edge of your youth turn all soft and mushy, sort of like an aging, well-worn dollar bill.

Make that exactly like an aging, well-worn dollar bill.

And to those of you who manage to get along in the day-to-day without compromises of any sorts, I salute you.
posted by umberto at 1:03 PM on August 26, 2002

re: Ray Manzarek and his refusal to sell out, his bandmate John Densmore recently wrote an interesting article that seems to call Ray's dedication to "anti- commercialism" into question:
"...I am reminded of the sound of greed, trying to talk me into not vetoing a Doors song for a cigarette ad in Japan:

"It's the only way to get a hit over there, John. They love commercials. It's the new thing!"

"What about encouraging kids to smoke, Ray?"

"You always have to be PC, don't you, John?"
posted by scribblative at 1:18 PM on August 26, 2002

aw crap... link is here.
posted by scribblative at 1:19 PM on August 26, 2002

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she mentioned something along the lines of "should I go?" and I started singing, "should I stay or should I go" etc. To which she says, "Oh, like on the commercial!"
posted by redsparkler at 1:36 PM on August 26, 2002

Last night, my father was telling us about how he saw Ray Charles in the airport. My sister said, "Who's that?" and I said, "You know, the Pepsi guy."

Bill Hicks is right.
posted by ODiV at 1:53 PM on August 26, 2002

In light of the heartbreakingly pithy "If clearchannel won't play the song, they most certainly will play the commercial" (which made me want to write *cries*) and umberto's comments about selling out, I realized my reaction to the songs-in-commercials phenom is a little more complex than I thought. If Nick Drake gets a little boost from an atmospheric commercial, my subconscious seems OK with that. I remember being happy when I found out Beulah was getting paid a lot of money for a Target (I think) ad, because as the NYTimes article pointed out, it was at least a way for the group to get heard outside of the strangled realm of radio. I don't think this is "selling out," but more like the daily compromise umberto referred to. If we live in a consumerist society and some artists are able to actually work around it and take advantage of it -- that just seems like part of being smart in a corrupt culture.

But hearing "Lust for Life" used to sell cruises or the Clash sell Jaguars raises the squick factor exponentially -- not because an "edge" is lost but because the song seems betrayed. The apparent logic of "Hey, people who can now afford cruises who grew up grooving on Iggy Pop will think cruises are kew-wel" reminds me of Ronald Reagan saying what a fine young man that Bruce Springsteen was for singing "Born in the U.S.A." -- the line's crossed from promotion to distortion.
posted by redshoes3 at 2:33 PM on August 26, 2002

I think this is appropriate - it's actually from the same album that Rock and Roll is taken from, Led Zeppelin IV.

"Why don't you take a good look at yourself and describe what you see / And baby, baby, baby do you like it"...

-- Led Zeppelin, Misty Mountain Hop.
posted by tomcosgrave at 2:37 PM on August 26, 2002

AT&T had a commercial that was a series of cuts between scenes of a man on a plane on a business trip and his wife missing him at home -- all to the tune of Elton John's "Rocket Man."

posted by shmeggy at 3:34 PM on August 26, 2002

Thanks for the link scriblattive, I was always a little confused by Manzarek's "We haven't done commercials but we won't rule them out" stance.

And here are those "Applied Materials" commercials, I like the song "Dream" from the third one: Applied Materials TV spots
posted by bobo123 at 4:11 PM on August 26, 2002

No one has noted that the Psychic TV track 'Enochian Calls' is used in a Chili's commercial.
posted by bunnytricks at 5:03 PM on August 26, 2002

on "perfect day" and commercials. The BBC used a version of this some years ago with loads of different people singing different lines. It was a great version. I think it had something to do with some telethon thing. Anyway, if you can find it, check it out. The fun part of it is trying to work out who's singing what. (That's Tom Jones. No It isn't.. etc.)

Just realised. I seem to have spent this conversation talking about Lou Reed/vu. I do listen to other music. Honest I do.
posted by seanyboy at 5:12 PM on August 26, 2002

I still don't see why anyone would get all bothered over someone using one commercial product to sell another. I mean, anyone who sells his music has already "sold out" by any meaningful definition of the term; the exact details of the commercial transaction are just that... details. Getting upset because some song is used in a commercial is like the old joke about the guy who asks a woman if she'd sleep with him for $5 million, and then for $5. "What kind of woman do you think I am?" "We've established that, now we're haggling about the price."
posted by kindall at 5:25 PM on August 26, 2002

Excellent point Kindall, and one which is well made, but I disagree. There's a difference between (lets say) Rage against the machine, selling albums for profit, and Rage against the machine being used to advertise McDonalds. Most people would say that the latter example would be "selling out". As an artist, you want to be paid for your work. As an artist, you want your words to touch as many people as possible. What's different is that when people hear your song, they hear your message. When an advertiser takes your best lines, and plugs them into images of your product, what you're doing is selling their message, and assuring the eventuality that everybody who comes to your song is also selling that advertisers message. This is selling out.

It's not as simple as that even. The Moby album would have got nowhere without the advertisements. Sometimes, when an artist sells a song to a product, the popularity of the product can help sell the message of the song. The advertisers may not like it, but every person who buys a "best of" album on the back of a particular advert is being persuaded to buy into the artists mindset. I think this is a more symbiotic mindset than people give it credit for.
posted by seanyboy at 5:37 PM on August 26, 2002

To quote the Clash's "Death or Glory" as it is relevant to the discussion...

"Every cheap hood makes a bargain with the world
ends up making payments on a sofa or a girl....

And I believe in this and testify as such
That he who fucks nuns will later join the church."

Sums up why rebellious songs appear in commercials.

My favorite abuse of lyrics was Devos "Beautiful World" which includes the "it's a beautiful world" but leaves out "for them, not me."

In the last year, my desires in music have been tied to local bands instead of national heroes. But I imagine many of us would sell our songs to companies just as quickly as the big boys.
posted by drezdn at 5:52 PM on August 26, 2002

the squick factor... -- Thanks. Love the word.

I thought I had seen everything until the German tourism ministry used the Sex Pistols' Holidays in the Sun to promote visits to Berlin.

Then, when the National Abortion Rights Action League used Bodies by the Pistols, I screamed, "What were they thinking" at the TV. I mean, didn't they realize what that song was about?
posted by Holden at 6:01 PM on August 26, 2002

It's pretty sad.. even Brittney is selling out these days.
posted by Hildago at 6:09 PM on August 26, 2002

There's a Snickers commercial playing here in Australia that uses Weezer's "Island in the Sun". Nobody else has mentioned it though and I'm wondering if it's one of those "as long as it doesn't get played in America" deals. Has anyone else seen it?
posted by web-goddess at 6:38 PM on August 26, 2002

Not a commercial context, but on the topic of distorting a song's meaning, I thought it was interesting when the Bush campaign used "Won't get fooled again" as a theme song. Of course, they had to cut out the lines "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.."
posted by tdismukes at 6:47 PM on August 26, 2002

Speaking of Shrub, one of my favorite Bush campaign stories (probably apocryphal, but funny anyway) has a cover band singing ZZ Top at a fundraiser: "Lord take me downtown, I'm just looking for some Bush". Those were supposed to be the original lyrics to Tush, but the record company insisted they be changed, for some reason.
posted by TedW at 8:38 PM on August 26, 2002

In many cases, I usually have a good laugh at first when anti-corporate songs are used in commercials. Although, I then feel awkwardly concerned on whether the director actually fully listened and intended to use it...

I always wanted Nick all to myself. Something about his music makes me want to be the only one who listens to it.

Well, you're definitely not alone.
posted by samsara at 9:21 PM on August 26, 2002

what was the jamc song then?

you pitch syd barretts ' terrapin 'to them sonny

and ill take 50 % ok?

for a laugh , try pitching a fall song.....
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:30 PM on August 27, 2002

I just noticed that The Chemical Brothers' "Hoops" was just used in an ad for GMC Trucks or something. Now, I still don't see the connection. Still, you have to give props to Volvo for their good taste in using Mr Scruff's "Get A Move On" in their ads.

I stopped getting upset over the trend of advertisers raping our musical heritage to sell junk. It's just par for the course now, and my opinion of the ad industry hasn't changed an iota.

...But, the all-time worst example has to be when The Ramones were used to sell mini-vans. I mean, that goes right past 'Irony' and directly into the 'Sad' category.
posted by Down10 at 1:02 AM on August 28, 2002

I'll go with London Calling as the worst. Not because of betrayal to the song, which it is, but of being a non-sequitur with Jaguar. Terrible, awful, annoying advertising. I always suspected that Jaguars appealled to the most clueless, detached people, but that doesn't explain it. I wonder if the agency or Jaguar is at fault for this. I wonder if it was done purposely to give rise to threads such as this.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:51 AM on August 28, 2002

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