Yes, I mean commercially viable but more specifically I mean music featured in commercials of late. Of course you could do a whole blog on this (hey, what a great idea!) but I'll just do one (or two) posts on the subject because while some of the songs featured in commercials may be enjoyable enough to hear on television and in your car, most are not. My husband and I have often marveled at the stuff that makes it on to commercials, we figure most of the agency folk these days are our age or slightly younger and they're pimping their favorite tunes. How else to describe Iron and Wine covering the Postal Service in an M&M commercial?
By the way that song is freaking amazing, commercial or not. The lyrics! Loved it originally and love the cover. But I digress.
I had a chat recently on the subject with a musician friend of mine who said we shouldn't fault Sam Beam or any of these other musicians because for an independent artist (or semi independent) a commercial, one little ol' commercial, can be enough money to support said musician for 6 months to a year. That way they can continue to make music full time without slinging coffee. Or they can sit on their couch smoking dope all year, whatever is their fancy. And hey, I agree. It may potentially harm their career, but more likely, it won't and people like you and I will talk about how weird it is that that song is in a freaking M&M commercial.
As a side note, I have done a fair amount of ad agency work myself and most notably freelanced for an agency that does a lot of Target stuff. I contributed my list of songs that I thought should have been used in a few commercials they were crafting and well, they didn't pick mine. Maybe I'll post some of my Target choices tomorrow (and the songs they went with instead- you decide who is smarter, me or the big bucks agency!) Or maybe I will hop, skip and jump away from this topic altogether. Whichever way the wind blows.
Harry Nilsson, "Coconut" (Coca-Cola with Lime)
The Caesars, "Jerk It Out" (iPod shuffle)
5,6,7,8s, "Woo Hoo" (Vonage)
David Bowie, "Young Americans" (Fidelity Investments)
Devo, "Whip It" (Swiffer)
B-52s, "Rock Lobster" (K-Mart)
The Monsters from Sesame Street, "Mahna Mahna" (Dr. Pepper)
Two more that probably won't appeal to the kids but they are nice, nice songs:
The Concretes, "Say Something New" (Target)
Iron & Wine, "Such Great Heights" (M&M)
And lastly, an oldie but goodie, the song that set the bar for commercial music:
The New Seekers, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" aka "The Real Thing" (Coca Cola)