For this week’s Tuesday Ten, I’m going back to a list I’ve had on the back burner for bloody ages. That is, music on TV in the form of advertising. Always a contentious subject – there are probably just as many artists who flatly refuse to sell their music for use in this way as those that do – this list is taking a look at those who have done.
And if anyone can think of a single industrial track used in mainstream advertising, I’d love to hear about it.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/A Brief History of Love
/Advertising/Microsoft XBOX 360
Hearing this for the umpteenth time on one of those damned Microsoft adverts for their XBOX 360 console was, I seem to recall, what made me take a mental note to cover adverts on a Tuesday at some point. So either those adverts were shown for a lot longer than I remember, or I’ve been sitting on this for the best part of a year. I do wonder, though, even with all the hype that the NME, in particular, gave this band, whether without the advert The Big Pink would have had the success that they have. I think they are great, though, so any leg-up the band could get was a good thing, in my mind – and once people have been suckered in by this track, and they buy the album A Brief History of Love, they will quickly realise that it is the weakest track on it.
/Rhythm and Stealth
Perhaps the king of the advert that grabs the attention is Guinness, with a long history of making their adverts talking points. This hit an unassailable peak with the extraordinary Surfers ad in 1999, that also doubled as the premiere of the keenly awaited new Leftfield material in the form of the ominous, rumbling bass intro to Phat Planet. Interestingly, the two went in separate ways after this – the advert itself has long been viewed as probably the greatest advert ever, while Leftfield’s second album felt like a bit of a damp squib, really. It wasn’t that bad, just simply not as astounding as Leftism was. The perils of a second album, particularly a very late one…
/Advertising/Intel and Nissan
Never mind just adverts, this has appeared in video games, films, sports grounds and probably just about anywhere else you can get away with using music. It’s not surprising, mind – this is one minute and fifty-eight seconds of blistering punky power, that has no need of saying much and instead just blast through your ears with a roared “WOO HOO”. Needless to say, it was a big hit. Blur allowing their songs to be used in this way is doubly ironic, of course, thanks to early Blur stand-out Advert from Modern Life Is Rubbish…which satirises the concept and advertising in general so strongly that you wonder quite why they did go this route in the end. But then, when money talks…
/Blister in the Sun
I have to say I’m actually surprised that it took until 2008 for this evergreen alt-rock staple (by that point twenty-six years young!) to be used in advertising when it ended up being used for an (admittedly clever) advert for a piss-weak beer. In the meantime, it had appeared on more soundtracks than I can count, and as a result, seems to get a new boost in popularity every couple of years. Which is probably a good thing, as this song is still fantastic (and somewhat timeless – it’s lyrics telling of adolescent angst probably hit a chord with anyone who has been a teenager). But one question: can anyone remember any other Violent Femmes songs? Other than the one I usually skip on The Crow Soundtrack, I’m really struggling.
/Do It Again
/We Are The Night
For some reason, I thought that The Chems had allowed the use of their songs in more adverts – or is that more songs in adverts – than they apparently have. Still, any excuse to include one of the best dance artists going, and indeed one of their finest recent singles, selling yet another perfume, probably in the run-up to Christmas. Oh well, everyone has to get paid, I guess…
/One Way Or Another
/Advertising/Baileys and Special K
Not both of them at once, mind (could you imagine how grim a breakfast that would be?). Not exactly Blondie’s finest hour, but judging on how many times I still hear it in various places, it’s clearly still pretty lucrative (this might have something to do with the countless films it’s been used in, too, according to Wiki). Still, better hearing “classic” period Blondie rather than the boring tripe served up since they reformed for an even bigger payday…
/Barry 7’s Contraption
The curious, weirded-out fairground-esque of the opening track to Add N To (X)’s finest album (Avant Hard, since you ask) was hardly the first track, or band, I’d think of when wanting to soundtrack an advert. Perhaps Metal Fingers In My Body will appear advertising pr0n or something sometime, maybe? In the meantime, this was actually used by Orange to advertise mobile ‘phones, and I recall nearly falling from my seat when I first heard it used in the cinema.
/Bohemian Like You
/Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia
Talking of mobiles, actually. Before this song, The Dandy Warhols were another whip-smart US indie band, destined to be known for a song with sneering putdowns and a snappy video. But enough about Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth. They finally hit the big time and escaped the indie ghetto for a short time at least when Vodafone co-opted The Dandy’s finest single and at long last made it a monstrous hit. Also used in other adverts, it’s one of the few songs in this week’s list that I’m not actually tired of yet.
I’m pretty sure that when Air composed their glorious breakthrough single, that they never quite envisioned it being used to soundtrack Gary Lineker advertising his hometown crisp firm. It’s hardly the only place this five minutes of languid, gallic electronica has been used, either, appearing (rather more aptly, perhaps) in Queer As Folk, not to mention 10 Things I Hate About You and probably a few other places besides.
/Advertising/everything, anything, everywhere, until the end of time
Finally, here’s an artist that went the whole hog. His album Play licensed every single song for some other use, which as I recall was unprecedented at the time and frankly I’m not sure it’s happened since, either. Which is odd, as it sure as hell got this album some coverage – tracks from this were everywhere for a couple of years after release, and the blanket coverage converted into over ten million sales. I still think it’s crap, though.