Indie songs in TV commercials
March 25, 2008 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Indie songs in commercials?

I'm trying to remember all of the indie songs used in TV commercials over the past 5 or so years. Like: Nick Drake, Pink Moon (Volkswagon); Hem, Half Acre (some kind of insurance); Ingrid Michaelson, The Way I Am (Old Navy?). I know there are more. A Richard Bruckner song? Maybe Keren Ann's One Day Without?

Especially where the song is not super well-known before the commercial. (So Natasha Bedingfield in the Pantene commercial is not exactly the same thing.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter to Media & Arts (65 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Mushaboom" by Feist for Lacoste
posted by nathaole at 9:30 AM on March 25, 2008


Architecture in Helsinki for sprint
the concretes for target
modest mouse did a VW commercial that I can't find the link to. (2nd track off of the moon and antartica)

those are the three I can think of off the top of my head.
posted by Large Marge at 9:34 AM on March 25, 2008


Modest Mouse's "Gravity Rides Everything" has been used in several commercials.

The Walkmen's "We've Been Had" was used in a Saturn spot a few years ago.
posted by saladin at 9:35 AM on March 25, 2008


Apple is bonkers about indie music. Consider "New Soul" by Yael Naim for the current Macbook Air commercial and "What I'm Looking For" by Brendan Benson for the iPod touch.

The latter was also used by Sears for a catalog commercial.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 9:35 AM on March 25, 2008


Also, a snippet of "Stars" by Hum has been used in recent Cadillac commercials.
posted by saladin at 9:36 AM on March 25, 2008


Off the top of my head, Feist's 1234 was in some iPod commercial, The New Pornographers had a song in a commercial for the University of Phoenix (I believe it was Bleeding Heart Show) Of Montreal's Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games was rewritten as the Outback Steakhouse theme song, Final Fantasy had a song in some phone commercial, and I've heard Andrew Bird's Skin Is and the intro track to Mysterious Production of Eggs in commercials.

But there are like a million of these. Is this for any particular purpose? Also Nick Drake is not indie.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:39 AM on March 25, 2008


Devendra Banhart's "Little Yellow Ribbon" has been used for an Orange (mobile phone network) here in the UK.

On a similar note, Vashti Bunyon's "Just Another Diamond Day" is currently advertising T-Mobile.
posted by afx237vi at 9:39 AM on March 25, 2008


^ Orange advert is what I meant to say.
posted by afx237vi at 9:40 AM on March 25, 2008


This past Christmas several different songs by The Weepies were on 5 gazillion different J.C. Penney and Old Navy commercials, at least on the US East Coast.
posted by iconomy at 9:43 AM on March 25, 2008


No particular purpose, just curiosity. And maybe "indie"'s the wrong word -- I'm thinking about songs that create a sort of atmospheric/mood, sort of moody or semi-folky songs that seem to be increasingly used in TV advertising.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:45 AM on March 25, 2008


Devendra Banhart's "Little Yellow Ribbon" has been used for an Orange (mobile phone network) here in the UK.

Little Yellow Spider ;-)
posted by ceiriog at 9:47 AM on March 25, 2008


('All That I Want' and 'Stars' are the two Weepies songs I can remember off the top of my head but there were several others as well)
posted by iconomy at 9:48 AM on March 25, 2008


"The Rat" by the Walkmen was used in sports playoff promotional advertising, as was "Words" by Doves.
posted by LionIndex at 9:52 AM on March 25, 2008


Toronto band the Deadly Snakes had a song used in a Toyota Yaris commercial. My husband complains it makes him uncomfortable driving our Yaris in TO because of the image of the Yaris being a "hipster" car. I haven't seen the commericial myself but since friends of friends were in the Deadly Snakes I do get teased about it.
posted by saucysault at 9:56 AM on March 25, 2008


"I Think I Need a New Heart" by The Magnetic Fields was in a Cesar Canine Cuisine dog food commercial.
posted by Someone has just shot your horse! at 9:57 AM on March 25, 2008


And maybe "indie"'s the wrong word -- I'm thinking about songs that create a sort of atmospheric/mood, sort of moody or semi-folky songs that seem to be increasingly used in TV advertising.

Well I'm not (anymore) some kind of strict constructionist about the term indie (i.e. those who would insist that it must only apply to music on independent labels) but Nick Drake died in 1974, long before anyone had any notion of indie, college rock, or alt rock. He certainly influenced lots of modern-day indie dudes though, like your Belle and Sebastians or your Iron and Wines.

But if you're looking for folky singer-songwriter tunes used in commercials as opposed to indie tunes in commercials, that's a different question, although there's certainly overlap.

And speaking of which, New Slang by The Shins was in a McDonald's commercial.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:00 AM on March 25, 2008


Hilton used songs by Ben Folds, Brent Dennen, and others in an ad campaign last year.
posted by internal at 10:02 AM on March 25, 2008


The new Kia commercial uses Joe Purdy's "Can't Seem to Get it Right Today." I, on the other hand, just can't seem to get that damn song out of my head.
posted by i less than three nsima at 10:03 AM on March 25, 2008


They Might Be Giants' cover of Yeh Yeh was on a car commercial.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:07 AM on March 25, 2008


Paul Brill in a Publix Ad and in a Quaker Oats ad.
posted by kimdog at 10:12 AM on March 25, 2008


The Shins were on an IPOD or Zune commercial I'm pretty sure.
posted by o0dano0o at 10:14 AM on March 25, 2008


The Books are all over Hummer:
"Getting the Done Job" (from "Thought For Food") was featured in a 2007 Hummer H3 commercial. Additionally, the songs "That Right Ain't Shit" (From The Lemon of Pink) and "Read, Eat, Sleep" (from Thought for Food) appeared in a 2005 Hummer H2 commercial and a 2007 Hummer H3 commercial called "Let it Snow", respectively. On a related note, a track from Zammuto's solo "Solutiore of Stareau"/"Willscher" project was used in a Hummer H2 commercial titled "Command Module."
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:15 AM on March 25, 2008


I'm surprised to hear that nobody has mentioned that UPS used a song by The Postal Service in their commercials. Ahh, irony.
posted by galimatias at 10:21 AM on March 25, 2008


http://stereogum.com/archives/shit-list/esquires-top-ten-car-commercial-songs-of-the-year_008542.html
posted by rbf1138 at 10:24 AM on March 25, 2008


Bob Mould's "See a Little Light" is in some financial services company's commercial. TIAA-CREF, I think.

I know this because I was singing it while making eggs this morning. And thinking about doing my taxes.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:24 AM on March 25, 2008


also pre-indie days: The Faces' "Ooh-La-La" was also used in a VW commercial (I believe) about 5 years ago or so. (Which made me sad, because Ronnie Lane hadn't lived to get the royalties, which he'd sorely needed while he was alive.) Same song, incidentally, that's used at the end of Rushmore.
posted by scody at 10:36 AM on March 25, 2008


That Modest Mouse tune was in a Nissan commercial. But The Moon And Antarctica was their first album with a major label, Epic.
posted by ninjew at 10:37 AM on March 25, 2008


La Ti Da by The Icicles is being used in the new Target ads.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:51 AM on March 25, 2008


I'm surprised to hear that nobody has mentioned that UPS used a song by The Postal Service in their commercials. Ahh, irony.

The same song ("Such Great Heights") was also used in a series of Kaiser Permanente commercials.
posted by The Gooch at 10:56 AM on March 25, 2008


Jose Gonzalez' Heartbeats for Bravia.
posted by imitura at 11:05 AM on March 25, 2008


Hurts my heart, but Saul Williams' List of Demands.
posted by cashman at 11:09 AM on March 25, 2008


Mogwai's "Summer" off Ten Rapid was in a Levi's commercial.
posted by rabbitsnake at 11:13 AM on March 25, 2008


Stereolab's "Parsec" was in a pretty cool VW commercial a few years ago. Despite them being communists and all.
posted by transona5 at 11:24 AM on March 25, 2008


Do You Realize?? by The Flaming Lips:
It was featured in television commercials for VH1 and Mitsubishi, where the song was edited to downplay the lyric "Everyone you know someday will die". It was also featured in a Hewlett-Packard advertisement in 2002, featuring lead singer Wayne Coyne in a plain white suit with the two other band members wearing pink bunny suits.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 11:33 AM on March 25, 2008


Rilo Kiley pimping Volkswagens.
posted by knave at 11:39 AM on March 25, 2008


And Iron & Wine's cover of Such Great Heights was used in an M&Ms commercial. I also remember hearing The Postal Service's We Will Become Silhouettes in an ad a few years ago, but I don't remember what it was for.
posted by amarynth at 11:43 AM on March 25, 2008


To go along with Nick Drake/The Faces pre-Indie days, Volkswagon comes up again, as they used Donovan's Catch the Wind a couple years ago.
posted by thebellafonte at 12:06 PM on March 25, 2008


I quite like the new Audi commercial's use of The Beep Beep Song by Simone White.

Here's the 1234 song by Feist from the Ipod commercial.

It Must be Love by Labi Siffre (later covered by Madness) in the Vodafone ad.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:11 PM on March 25, 2008


Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sang a song for an Addidas commercial a couple of years back. I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but maybe you'll find it interesting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hello_Tomorrow
posted by missjamielynn at 12:12 PM on March 25, 2008


Not obscure, but the Clash's "London Calling" in a Jaguar commercial has to win some sort of irony prize. I've also seen car commercials with "Enjoy Yourself" by the Specials and "Tuesday Morning" by the Pogues. I think some 30-something ad executives are raiding their high school record collections. Or maybe they're raiding my high school record collection.
posted by craichead at 12:15 PM on March 25, 2008


Trio's Da Da Da in VW ads ca. 10 or so years ago.
posted by pieoverdone at 12:38 PM on March 25, 2008


Spoon's "I Turn My Camera On" was in a Jaguar spot a couple years ago. "Ginger" by the Lilys was in a Cadillac ad last summer.
posted by fancypants at 12:43 PM on March 25, 2008


I could've sworn I heard the chorus from Flaming Lips' "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" in a McDonald's salad commercial recently.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 12:44 PM on March 25, 2008


Animal Collective for Crayola. You can't really hear it that well over the kids going bananas for the color explosion crayons.
posted by dogwalker at 1:08 PM on March 25, 2008


Van Halen's "You Really Got Me" in Nissans' G.I. Joe/Barbie commercial.

the Clash's 'London Calling' in a Jaguar commercial has to win some sort of irony prize

I think it's called the Lust for Life Prize, after Iggy Pop's song about heroin was used in the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines commercials.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:16 PM on March 25, 2008


Van Halen ain't indie, friendo.
posted by saladin at 1:39 PM on March 25, 2008


Guided By Voices in a Nissan ad (in Canada at least). Can't remember the song, but surprisingly it wasn't "Motor Away." Also similar ad for the same car company used The Clash's version of "Pressure Drop"
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 1:51 PM on March 25, 2008


The Cinematic Orchestra's To Build A Home in this pretty slick Schweppes advertisment.
posted by liquorice at 2:57 PM on March 25, 2008


All the Wilco tracks in VW commercials (as mentioned in the Stereogum link). There was a Feelies song in a Citibank ad a few years back. "Catch the Wind" is also used in that lovely GE wind energy ad.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 2:57 PM on March 25, 2008


Van Halen ain't indie, friendo

Neither are The Clash, The Specials, or The Pogues.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:10 PM on March 25, 2008


I'm surprised to hear that nobody has mentioned that UPS used a song by The Postal Service in their commercials. Ahh, irony.

Nothing ironic about it.
posted by pedmands at 3:24 PM on March 25, 2008


RJD2 (warning, MySpace link with auto-song) seems to fit the bill; not sure if he's "indie" enough for your taste, though. His song Ghostwriter has been in a bunch of commercials, and it's really a great mood setter. A list of some of his other commercial-tunes are listed in his Wikipedia entry.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:18 PM on March 25, 2008


Great Northern's song "Home" (free listen) off "Trading Twilight for Daylight" in the Nissan Murano ad (first aired during the Super Bowl).
New album's pretty good.
posted by Prevailing Southwest at 5:37 PM on March 25, 2008


The Silversun Pickups' song Well Thought Out Twinkles is in a new Pontiac commercial. Not exactly atmospheric or mood, but I think they're indie. Probably won't be for long...
posted by LouMac at 7:21 PM on March 25, 2008


Van Halen ain't indie, friendo

Neither are The Clash, The Specials, or The Pogues.


Right, so all of those are wrong answers.

I also just remembered Bishop Allen's Click Click Click Click was in a Sony commercial.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:51 PM on March 25, 2008


I'm not sure if Badly Drawn Boy counts as indie, but "Something to Talk About" was in a Hummer commercial about a year ago (cringe). I think he also had a song in a Target commercial around then, too - "All Possibilities" if I remember correctly.

The AdTunes.com forums are a great resource for this sort of thing.
posted by AV at 8:53 PM on March 25, 2008


Smog's song "Held" was used in an ad for I believe a minivan a few years back; it's more upbeat than average for Bill Callahan but most of what he does can qualify as moody and atmospheric. Apparently it was also used more recently for a kind of sickening SUV commercial featuring, weirdly, Bob Dylan.
posted by whir at 8:53 PM on March 25, 2008


Thanks everyone. I really appreciate all of the answers. Sorry if I was a bad explainer -- I was/am interested in commercial use of songs I can only describe as "moody." Iron & Wine, Postal Service, Nick Drake, Hem, are examples. But all of the commercials and examples are really interesting -- thanks.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:22 PM on March 25, 2008


I once saw a Motorola "Hello Moto" commercial that to my utter surprise featured "Look Ma...No Fingerprints!" by my big, awesome Dutch-girl crush, Solex. I saw it once, and never ever saw it again, sadly.
posted by melorama at 1:08 AM on March 26, 2008


the new Payless Shoe ads with Helen Love freak me out everytime.
posted by annoyance at 9:18 AM on March 26, 2008


Thanks for the link to the Adtunes forum -- here's a discussion about the song (a CCR cover, female acoustic) being used in a new ecomagination ad. Within days the mystery was solved. Cool!
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:28 AM on March 26, 2008


I have the TV on and every third ad has some groovy little "indie"ish song -- a few minutes after ecomagination I saw a new Benadryl ad with one.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:36 AM on March 26, 2008


ClaudiaCenter, you're right. Richard Buckner's song "Ariel Ramirez" was in a commercial for the Volkswagen Touareg a few years ago. I'd definitely consider that "sort of moody or semi-folky" -- it might even qualify as just plain "moody and folky." It's a great song but I found it weird that it was used for a pretty-scenery-and-happy-folks ad. (And apparently, I'm not the only one to mention this on AskMe: [1], [2].)

AV's answer reminded me of hearing Badly Drawn Boy's "The Shining" in a Gap commercial (IIRC) a number of years ago. That song might also fit your "sort of moody or semi-folky" categories.
posted by macguffin at 9:16 PM on March 27, 2008


Steve Poltz for Jeep.
posted by shannonm at 12:17 PM on April 1, 2008


Splendad lists titles and artist for the music in many commercials.
posted by euphotic at 3:09 AM on April 6, 2008


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