Sitting through commercials is usually a pretty miserable experience. It feels like little sections of your life getting eaten up, 30 seconds at a time. Even the ones with good, home-made jingles are fun for a while but become increasingly annoying with each listen. Right when your favorite show reaches its most engaging point, you’re left hanging and a flood of obnoxious advertisements rushes in, trying to tactfully convince you to spend money or to remember their convenient phone number so when you do finally decide that you need an injury lawyer or a gym membership, you’ll know who to call.
But certain commercials stand out, and for us, 95% of the time it’s because of the music. Whether it’s getting you excited about a product that you really don’t care about at all (like printers), or using of one of your favorite indie tracks set to some cool imagery, the right song placement can make all the difference. Here are our favorite song placements in television commercials. Did we miss any? What are your favorites?
Vampire Weekend – “A-Punk”
Commercial: HP Photosmart Printer
Why it worked: A printer isn’t something we typically get excited about, but when it’s got “A-Punk” for a theme song, it had us pumping our fists like, “Fuck yeah, printers! Ay, ay, ay, ay!”
N.E.R.D. – “She Wants To Move”
Why it worked: Hennessy Cognac is some classy shit. We loved this spot because who doesn’t want to party for two days straight on a yacht with a bunch of beautiful rich people? We don’t know much about that, but when we do make it to the yacht parties, we hope “She Wants To Move” is playing. Pharrell seems like a Hennessy kind of guy too, when he’s not drinking Qream.
The Go! Team – “The Power Is On”
Commercial: NFL Play 60
Why it worked: Whilst the shots of muscle-bound NFL players nodding their heads and vibing to The Go Team! is fairly incongruous, this advert is all about getting out and having some fun, and the jangly indie-pop stylings match right up to that vibe.
Lykke Li – “Dance Dance Dance”
Why it worked: Expressing your emotions through dance really has nothing to do with Bing or their whole concept of sharing stuff you do with your friends, but any Lykke Li placement is a good placement, right? Right.
Empire Of The Sun – “We Are The People”
Why it worked: It may seem like another indie hit selection to make them look cool, but with lyrics like “We are the people who rule the world” paired with colorful, dramatic imagery, Vizio is flexing with this one.
Justice – “Civilization”
Why it worked: The epicness of “Civilization”, with it’s refrain “The beating of a million drums” matches the grand scope, and superstar lineup of this commercial, not to mention being the perfect soundtrack for scenes of crowds erupting at sports events. On top of that, the build, and then big synth drop matches the intensity and passion that’s being portrayed – it’s almost as if the track was made for the commercial.
Eddie Vedder – “Rise Up”
Commercial: Stand Up To Cancer
Why it worked: Who’s not a sucker for good old Ed? Even though those baggy ripped up jeans have been tossed aside for some skinnies and an embraced maturity, some things from grunge, like flannels and Mr. Vedder, are still kickin’. Stand Up To Cancer is a pretty righteous organization and Morgan Freeman even makes an appearance; what’s not to love?
The Cinematic Orchestra – “To Build A Home”
Commercial: Chivas Regal
Why it worked: Hear that tickling of the ivory? The pleasant falsetto voice? They both perfectly compliment the idea of blazing your own path to success, treating people nicely, and those fine aristocratic looking gentlemen towards the end of the commercial. But why does it really work? Because this isn’t a fucking Keystone Light commercial.
Sleigh Bells – “Riot Rhythm”
Commercial: Honda CRZ Sport Hybrid
Why it worked: “Complete opposites in complete harmony.” It’s hard to say how much thought was put into this music selection, but that tagline works just as well for Sleigh Bells as it does for the car. The duo has a perfect blend of sugary pop and raucous noise. Maybe we’re reading too into this, but if the music selector was on the same page as us, cheers to her.
Jonsi – “Go Do”
Commercial: Ford Explorer
Why it worked: Ford want to suggest an air of possibility, adventure and the great open spaces that are there to be explored. “Go Do” (the song title is actually used as the main slogan) is pretty much the essence of a bright and uplifting song, and there’s something about Jonsi’s crystalline falsetto that just sounds like nature. Don’t you just want to go and skip through a field and splash in a stream? Or buy a Ford?
Feist – “1234”
Commercial: IPod Nano
Why it worked: This pairing was just too easy. Bright colors, minimal video, music that you haven’t heard of yet that you instantly love- so Apple, so right. Feist was a little secret only known to loser bloggers before this commercial blew up in ’07.
M83 – “Midnight City”
Commercial: Victoria’s Secret
Why it worked: Major corporations fell in love with indie and underground in 2011 and Victoria’s Secret was no exception. This ad was perfect; girls—or Angels rather—strutting their stuff in Prague with M83 blasting behind them was the perfect mix of sexy, hip, edgy, and Adriana Lima.
Nick Drake – “Pink Moon”
Commercial: VW Cabrio
Why it worked: Nick Drake died in ’74, but in the 2000’s he made a huge resurgence, and this commercial was a big part of it. Combine perfectly calming night time cruising music, with moonlit shots of forests and roads. Sell vehicles. Profit.
The Morning Benders – “Excuses”
Commercial: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Why it worked: Not gonna lie, we just love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. They are the best. Plus, “No Excuses” is a great song. Sometimes, adding two great things together just works (e.g. peanut butter & chocolate).
Ray Lamontagne – “Trouble”
Commercial: Traveler’s Insurance
Why it worked: Does this even need an explanation? When you combine Ray LaMontagne and puppies it’s a wrap. It’s way better than those stupid hamsters.
Eminem – “Lose Yourself”
Why it worked: The Superbowl, Eminem, Detroit—this one hit the bullseye by capturing that “hardworking, persevering America” mentality that we all like to believe we have, and though using “Lose Yourself” cost big bucks, it was clearly worth it.
Jose Gonzalez – “Heartbeats”
Commercial: Sony Bravia
Why it worked: We’re surprised that Sony chose this song for the commercial. Usually big corporations go for the catchy and upbeat indie hits instead of acoustic covers of songs about lost love. But their choice paid off well, because this commercial is a piece of art in itself, and it’s something we’d actually choose to watch over most television. As far as song placement in commercials go, this one takes the cake.