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Bands in Commercials: Or How to Spot the Next Big Thing…

August 11, 2011

Since the advent of television, commercials have plagued our airwaves, interjecting dramatic moments of our programs, littering our living rooms with noisy offers and driving us to shell out major bucks for DVR’s.

If Apple picks up your band's latest effort for a commercial, you'd be stupid not to let them have it for free. Advertisements are easily one of the greatest outlets for promoting your music today.

However, we can thank the television commercial for one thing: great new music.

That statement is no truer today, where thousands, if not millions, of small, independent bands and musicians market their tunes to major corporations for extremely cheap prices, all at the hopes that their song will one day be broadcast for millions to hear.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros — Janglin

I actually had the pleasure of seeing this big, happy band perform at last weekend’s Escape 2 New York Festival and I was taken aback when they struck up their second tune of the night “Janglin.” I quickly recognized this bubbly jingle from the Ford Fiesta commercials. The ad spot involves an array of words describing the vehicle appearing onscreen through fun, unnatural outlets, such as truck sides and parachutes. Not only visually stimulating (at least on first watch), the music connects beautifully with the movement and really inscribes upon the brain. If only radio jingles were as brilliant as Mr. Sharpe and his Magnetic Zeros…

Love Song/Black Mags — Sara Bareilles/Cool Kids

I’ll be the first to admit, this Rhapsody commercial introduced me to Chicago’s Cool Kids, who have since suffered a serious fade into obscurity after this display of their only real hit, “Black Mags.” Following an unnecessary reintroduction to Sara Bareilles, whose hit “Love Song” was clouding airwaves throughout the period of the spot’s airing, the Cool Kids interrupt with their freshest beat; an old-school, B-Boy throwback beat catered by raspy rap vocals. The opening verse is used and not only that, but we get to see Evan “Chuck Inglish” Ingersoll’s super dope wolf t-shirt.

Phoenix — 1901

Easily one of the most memorable song spots in recent car commercial history, French alt-rockers Phoenix delivered a pinpoint tune for Cadillac’s SRX Crossover Edition vehicles as early as 2009. Not long after the ad went live, search engines felt the effects of curious viewers who had caught the catchy jingle, sending Phoenix on a crossover of their own into rock and roll consciousness. The song, which was the group’s first single off their most successful album to date, 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, has remained tattooed in our memories, with much thanks due to the big money of Cadillac.

Jet — Are You Gonna Be My Girl

This Aussie garage rock band nabbed their first international hit with 2004’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” off their 2003 debut album Get Born. Lucky for the band, Apple’s iPod mp3 players were simultaneously ascending to the forefront of mobile music player supremacy and they needed an anthem. Who doesn’t remember the colorful iPod commercials, featuring dancing silouhettes to new, revolving hits? The commercial series was so popular that other lead singes, including U2’s “Vertigo” and Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida.” Not saying all their selections were great, but still… (This one was.)

Sleigh Bells — Infinity Guitars

This power-rock novelty act burst onto the scene like an indie explosion in 2009. Scoring spots on major music festivals such as Coachella and Lollapalooza within two years of their inception, there was no mistake that Brooklyn’s Sleigh Bells were a hot commodity on the indie rock circuit. Escorting their ascendence were far less independent branches, known as Samsung and Windows. Their commercial for the Windows phone 7 in 2010 stamped the band’s offical landing spot as a big-time sell. Next up? The band’s song “Riot Rhythm” appears in Honda Cruz’s latest ad spots.

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