There are so many times when I’ve listened to the radio in the car and realized that the song playing isn’t for an expected commercial but an actual song. By an actual band. For an actual album. Not hocking a product. I’m pretty dumb to begin with but these moments always make me feel even worse. “Of course this is a real song,” I think to myself and then realize how brainwashed I’ve been by advertising–or pop culture, in general.
Or sometimes it’s the other way around. Not the part where I feel less dumb, but when I recognize a song in a commercial and then from then on, every time I hear it, I think of the product, company or movie trailer instead of the band. And how brainwashed is that? Even if that movie is long gone or the advertising campaign has been over for decades, I still think of what I could have bought with that song instead of the music itself.
Seeing as how it’s the weekend, I decided to compile my own list of songs that have been ruined by advertising (in one form or another). Feel free to add your own!
1. Thin Lizzy – “Boys Are Back In Town” = Toy Story 2
I can’t find the exact trailer for Toy Story 2 or maybe it was a radio commercial, but I can never hear this Thin Lizzy song without singing “the toys are back in town” and think about Buzz Lightyear. Also, I’ve never seen any Toy Story movie so I guess in this case, the advertising didn’t work all the way.
2. Bananarama – “Venus” = Gillette Venus Razor
What a horrible song to begin with and at least the product name matches the chorus but seriously, this is all I sing when I shave my legs. Which is rarely. Now you know.
3. The Lovin’ Spoonful – “Do You Believe In Magic” = McDonald’s
I used to sing this song all the time so imagine my shock when I heard it on the radio as an actual song with very different lyrics. I thought I was going crazy because this was before I could verify everything on Wikipedia.
4. The Walkmen – “We’ve Been Had” = Saturn Ion Commercial
Remember this song?? Remember this commercial? It really was an awesome commercial. And an awesome song. Now I can’t hear this song without thinking about cars. Lame.
5. Nick Drake – “Pink Moon” = Volkswagen
Is it sad that I didn’t know what this song was until I saw this commercial for a Volkswagen Cabriolet? I was also excited because the girl is wearing the same blue striped sweater that I had in college that I was totes obsessed with and wore out until I had massive holes in the sleeves. I wonder what happened to that sweater. It was totally worth the obsession.
6. Aretha Franklin – “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” = Clairol Natural Instincts
Remember this commercial? Poor Aretha. Also, I just realized this ad features Debra Messing. Who knew. Thanks, YouTube!
7. Kanye West – “Power” = The Social Network
On the plus side, I don’t have to think about Kanye whenever I hear this song. I just have to think about how much more successful Mark Zuckerberg is than I will ever be, no matter how hard I try.
8. Bob Seger – “Like A Rock” = Chevy
This was one song that I honestly thought was just a jingle for Chevy but boy, was I wrong. And boy, did I not care.
9. Iggy Pop – “Lust For Life” = Royal Caribbean Cruise
This is just sad.
10. Bill Withers – “Lovely Day” = Gap
Don’t tell anyone but I didn’t know who Bill Withers was until I bought a pair of Gap khakis.
11. Donovan – “Mellow Yellow” = Gap…again!
Remember the lead singer from Phantom Planet? Remember when Gap had really awesome commercials? Whatever happened to both of them?
12. Brenda Lee – “I’m Sorry” = Bounty
I used to sing this all the time in elementary school. I’m sorry. Especially to you, Brenda Lee.
13. RJ2D – “Ghostwriter” – Banks
Okay, I can’t remember which banking commercial I heard this RJ2D song in but hey, it’s a great song for uh…banks. I guess.
14. Buffalo Springfield – “For What It’s Worth” = Forrest Gump
I swear to god that this song starts playing in my head every time I read something about the Vietnam War. Damn you, Tom Hanks.
15. Pete, Bjorn & John – “Young Folk” = Every pilot/trailer/montage from 2008-2009