Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Commercial Music

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)

7 comments:

Music said...

That's because most of the songs on TV now-A-Days are targeted at the younf people(17 and under). They are the ones with the super buying power. They spend your money

Mr R&B
www.singersroom.com

Stefan said...

There was a great article in the New York Times Magazine a while back on Apples in Stereo, I think, who licensed the use of one of their songs for some ad.

OK, yeah, I'm not terribly in command of the details (it was a long time ago), but it made many of the same points you raise -- it's amazing how much money (comparatively) using one song can generate. Not too mention the exposure of the song (Exhibit A, Moby). While some bands probably run the risk of ruining the illusion of... illusions that their songs initially generated by licensing them to sell sneakers, I think in general people are a lot more comfortable with that than they used to be.

And, yeah, that M&M song (and ad) totally rocks.

deb in sf said...

oh, how I remember bouncin' on the bed singing that song! One of the big things that turned me into a singer, I think.

Annie thinks "such great heights" is a lullaby and rocks and asks for her silkie when she hears it (not too often, but it plays at our house).

Phil said...

One of my favorite "ad songs" of the past few years was a car commercial... I can't even remember what company it was, maybe Ford. Anyway, it was a car full of kids driving in the moonlight to Nick Drake's "Pink Moon"... I had never heard that song before, so it introduced me to an artist that I now love.

Dani said...

I thought that Harry Nilsson song was an odd choice for a Coca-Cola commercial. They only used the chorus, but why use a song that says the woman gets sick from drinking the beverage?

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