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August 18, 2005


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SOOO many classic lines in Baby Got Book. Weird Al would be proud. "NIV with a ribbon bookmark" cracks me up every time. maybe b/c I've got one.


ANY commercial using Lennon's music is a travesty. One of my pet peeves was when Nike used "Revolution." Just ruined the whole spirit of the song.

BTW, that link is hilarious!

Queen of Ass

That LINK? OH MY GAAAWWWD! That is hysterical!


Michael Jackson doesn't have the rights to John Lennon's solo music, Yoko Ono does. If I'm not mistaken.

Anyway, it's not hard to dislike Yoko Ono.


MD, thanks for the laugh. baby got book. love.

i'll trade you:

watch maximum wage. slow to pick up, but worth the wait. wish we could hear that song in a commercial.


That was hilarious!


I always thought it was funny when Visa used Abba's "Dancing Queen" for a commercial. But when I was living in Europe, I once saw a Nike commercial using The Sex Pistol's "Anarchy in the U.K." That one surprised me.


Thanks for making my day with that link. It was too funny. I can't wait to show it to my church friends!


Our tv isn't tuned in and is only used as a computer/ps2/xbox screen so I miss out on all of this. I'm glad.


I am so with ya on this one. It's a travesty. The Carnival Cruise Line/Iggy Pop Commercial irritates me each an every time I see/hear it.

Oh, and in case you haven't heard it, Toyota uses The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I go."

My friend is predicting that Bauhaus will be doing Burger King commercials any day now...


You're not alone, MD. As a huge Bowie fan, I practically cried when I heard "Heroes" being used for a FTD commercial.


Love the Violent Femmes shout-out. Final sign of the apocalypse will be Pavement's "Cut Your Hair" shilling for the Hair Cuttery.


My reaction? Every time?
"Damn. I used to like that song."
*moment of silence while she mourns*


What about the Police and "Every Breath You Take" for Lipton Tea? They changed the words to "Every drink you take. I'll be drinking you." Someone needs to be beaten for making that commercial.


I will never look at my KJV bible again.



Sorry, i will never look at my KJV bible in the same way again...

that makes a big difference.

Linda B

Hmmm, I have never really noticed the use of songs in commercials. Except the stupid Cingular song with the famous phone number (that I can't even remember right now)

But when something catchy comes on, I usually sit there and do the "white man's overbite" dance. I, too have no rhythm. It is sad, really.


I totally agree. Then there's the other side of the coin. A lot of commercials feature good songs by mediocre indie bands struggling to get paid in an environemnt where everyone is downloading rather than paying for their music, so they tour relentlessly and if they're lucky they get some hipster jerk who's sold his soul to Madison Avenue or a hollywood studio to recommend to the higher ups that they use their music in a Saturn commercial or on the O.C. The Walkmen (saturn), modest mouse (saturn), kings of leon (VW), The Polyphonic Spree, the Shins. Is it better to sell out on your way up, or is it just more repugnant when you're at some point on that long downward slide? These folks aren't like Bob Dylan hawking lingerie in that surreal Vic. Secret commercial, or Robert Deniero lending his personality to American Express in that horrible NY commercial. But I still question it.

I think of what John Densmore of the Doors said about this whole issue:

"Songs carry emotional information and some transport us back to a poignant time, place or event in our lives. It's no wonder a corporation would want to hitch a ride on the spell these songs cast and encourage you to buy soft drinks, underwear or automobiles while you're in the trance. Artists who take money for ads poison and pervert their songs. It reduces them to the level of a jingle, a word that describes the sound of change in your pocket, which is what your songs become. Remember, when you sell your songs for commercials, you are selling your audience as well.

When I was a kid, if I saw an artist I admired doing a commercial, I'd think, "Too bad, he must really need the money." But now it's so pervasive. It's a virus. Artists are lining up to do ads. The money and exposure are too tantalizing for most artists to decline. Corporations are hoping to hijack a culture's memories for their product. They want an artist's audience, credibility, good will and all the energy the songs have gathered as well as given over the years. They suck the life and meaning from the songs and impregnate them with promises of a better life with their product."

Has a Doors song ever been used in a commercial?


I guess it doesnt bother me b/c I consider (most) pop music to be a product anyway. what's that ben folds line: some producer with computers fixes all my sh*tty tracks.

oh, that and I dont bother watching TV much, and I'm quick to check the other sports channels whenever commercials are on.


re: doors and commercials -- I heard this exact discussion on the radio while driving to work the other day. And yes, a Doors song was used in a commercial once -- "Light My Fire," Buick ad, 1967 or something. Apparently it was controversial then, and they haven't done it since.


I completely agree. Songs which previously held some personal meaning and even cultural significance are reduced to thirty second economic soundtracks. What I've been disappointed with recently has been hearing the Who in Saab commercials. How do you go from smashing guitars and singing about "My Generation" to lending your genius to a Swedish car manufacturer? Sure, they're not part of the anti-establishment anymore, but I can't imagine they're having trouble paying the bills...

As for the Doors, I remember Cadillac using the slogan "Break on Through" a few years back, but I don't think they had the song. Am I remembering correctly?

Diggable Dad

I agree with you. Like Dutch says, I think there's a difference when artists who DON'T need the money sell their songs for a commercial. Do the Stones really need MORE money?

Modern artists tends to get screwed by their record labels so I tend not to judge them. They're practically slaves to the industry.

So no...you're not crazy for getting pissed off when watching those commercials. It drives me absolutely fucking nuts! Sometimes, I'll scream at the TV. (Hmmm...maybe we're both nuts)

Fun post


I'm a far cry from Lawrence Lessig, but I think under current copyright law, it's legit to riff 15-20 seconds of a song for, say, a commercial, without owning the rights to the song. So artists need not sell out or collude with advertisers or corporations for their songs to be in commercials. When someone who is also not Lawrence Lessig told me about this tidbit after I was completely dismayed by Nissan's use of the Smiths's "How Soon is Now?" about 6 years ago, I felt a little better about how the world works. But once a song's bastardized, it's bastardized. Apologies for using that word on a parenting blog...


Baby's Got Book is effing hysterical! Soooo funny. Thanks for sharing that link. Made my day.


Brilliant post title. Everything else has been said.


You know Johnny Cash's family DID turn down an offer (quite generous offer too) from Preparation H to use "Ring of Fire" in their commercials....


Well since I work in the biz, I'll chime in on this one...

Artists and musicians, like music fans, have differing opinions on the issue. Some think it's selling out, some think its just plain selling. My personal opinion is that that artists who have a problem with it are simply restricting themselves from an additional source of revenue. Given the current state of affairs in the music industry, this is just not good policy. If you're a new artist and don't see big label advances or royalties, any additional income stream will help to sustain you when you're not touring or hawking merch. And an established artist doesn't get chump change for these commercials. The bigger the song, the bigger the check. And let's face facts here. Very few of them will turn down an easy payday solely on principle.

I find that the artists who whine the most about money are generally the ones making it. Coldplay only laments the fact that their record label is getting rich, because they are pissed it's less money for them. And something tells me that if they were still an unknown quantity, they'd be a just as vocal about the money that they and their label weren't making. Metallica, who used tape swapping to sell themselves in the early days, got completely bent out of shape because music sharing was cutting into their bottom line.

Music is product. It may be an expressive art form that has meaning for you and me, but at the end of the day it's still product. And the artists who make money, or have the potential to make money from it, know this.

Of course, I'm the guy that takes 15% of the top of everything the artist makes, so I could be biased.


OK, well, I would have advised my client to NOT take the butt cream deal also. So, maybe there is some wiggle room on principle...

alice, uptown

The idea that a song I know in another context will evoke emotions in me that will persuade me to buy a product pisses me off. I know advertising is manipulative -- but the transparency factor is just way too much.

Whenever I hear a song that been licensed for use in a commercial, I think of it as the artists' retirement plan account. It seems you may get too old to sing, but never too old to sell.

And my favorite ironic pairing for this summer: a home mortgage lender is sponsoring the Rolling Stones' tour.


My favorite example of Improper Song Use in a commerical was the Nissan Xterra ad featuring the guy rockclimbing at night to the opening drum riff of the Velvet Underground's "Heroin". I'd have loved to have been a fly-on-the-wall at the meeting where that song was pitched to the head of advertising.

My brother-in-law is the guitarist for an up-and-coming band (Foreign Born - check 'em out at www.foreignbornmusic.com). Having struggled in previous bands, he's doing well for himself these days and is able to keep making music because he and his mates have developed some business sense; they've sold songs for commericals (did a Sprint ad) and have earned money on the side by writing jingles (Old Navy). They can pay their bills and get their music to people who might never get to hear them otherwise. BIYF is right; for these guys, it's how they make their living, and very few of us can truthfully say that we'd do what we do for free.

Jason Looney

When I found out how many times the 'N' word was used in the song "People Everyday", it struck me as odd that Toyota used it for YEARS.


Check out what Devo's lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh has been doing for the last few years:


There are better articles than that on his tricks, but I'm too lazy to find them. It does explain why every time I see that swiffer wetjet commercial using "whip it" I go off on a twenty minute tirade about "what's wrong with mops?" "why do we have to throw everything away in this bullshit materialistic society of ours."

I blame the subliminal messages.


I think the main reasons all these great songs end up in commericals is because many a former hipster/punk rocker/indie rocker work at the creative ad agencies and their draw from their own taste. Maybe that is why I usually find it funny instead of sad when I hear a good song in a commerical-I always imagine the cool art director who must have come up with it.


Led Zepplin for Cadillac is the one that set my hair on fire...


John Lennon's "Instant Karma" (Nike)
If Michael Jackson's not going to hell for sodomizing young boys, selling the rights to this song should guarantee him a spot.

That cracked me up! :)


I'm admitting I'm a geek here, but it really annoys me when people hear Aaron Copland's, "Hoedown" from Rodeo and they shout out "Beef! It's what's for dinner!" Also, this one is a bit old, but United Airlines playing George Gershwin's, "Rhapsody in Blue," also annoyed me because people didn't know who wrote it and where it came from. They just knew it as the song from the UA commercial.


Dude, Husband and I talk about this all the time. So fucking sad. I mean, how much money do these bands NEED anyway???

Also, as a side-note, I agree with Dutch. How many fucking things do we need to throw in a landfill?


OK, just saw during the James Bond AMC marathon that Bob Dylan sold out to Kaiser.


I am Korean and I have rhythm. I just needed to state that for the record.


I was so upset to see The Cure's Pictures Of You in a camera ad. It broke my heart


How about the Ramone's Blitzkrieg Bop for cell phones? I was banging my head on the coffee table at that one.

Dick Reichenbach

I frequently hear advertisements for HMO's and Hospitals play the opening to Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime as a generic hospital background noise. I always remimd myself that OP:MC takes place in a mental hospital.

Lamar Cole

Just as Blistex can heal chapped lips, love can heal a broken heart.

New music b

Good job and great design!
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