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Now You Know the Rest Of the Song

Frank Ahrens

Television advertisers love catchy tunes. They used to make up their own jingles, like the Chicken of the Sea tuna tune.

Now, they like to license pop songs to look hipper.

Mostly, companies just focus on the hook of a song or its feel (happy, contemplative, in-the-mood-to-buy-a-Hummer, that sort of thing) and they ignore the rest of the song.

This can be problematic. Viewers who know the song sense the dischord, so to speak. Sometimes, the song contains lyrics that not only don't match up with the product, they make unintentional fun of it. Or maybe they create unintended impressions in viewers that could be counterproductive to the ad.

Here are some examples of TV commercials, the songs they use, the key overlooked lyrics and the silliness that could ensue:

* Advertiser: AT&T communications services.
Song: "All Around the World" by '90s Brit rockers Oasis.
Song's usefulness: Chorus works well for a telecomm: "All around the world, you've gotta spread the word."
Key overlooked lyric: "If you're lost at sea well I hope that you've drowned."
Unintended impression: If you're an AT&T customer and you lose your phone or Internet service, tough luck.

* Advertiser: Monster online career network.
Song: "Do Ya" by '70s art-rockers Electric Light Orchestra.
Song's usefulness: Uplifting chorus suggests promise of new career.
Key overlooked lyric: "I've seen old men crying at their own gravesides."
Unintended impression: If I take this job I found on Monster, it will mean a certain and swift death.

* Royal Caribbean cruise lines.
Song: "Lust for Life" by '70s glam-rocker Iggy Pop.
Song's usefulness: Peppy, life-affirming chorus.
Key overlooked lyric: "Here comes Johnny Yen again/With the liquor and drugs/And the flesh machine/He's gonna do another strip tease."
Unintended impression: As if the threat of gastroenteritis, going missing and being attacked by Somali pirates wasn't enough to deter you from taking a cruise, you might run into Johnny Yen at the midnight buffet. Yeesh.

You got any?

By Frank Ahrens  |  November 8, 2006; 6:00 AM ET  | Category:  Frank Ahrens
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Have we got any? How about that Nike commercial featuring "Hurt"?

Key overlooked lyrics: All of them :D

No idea how that disaster happened...

Posted by: admonkey | November 8, 2006 8:52 AM

Every commercial that used Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" to show their patriotism or "pride in the USA".

Overlooked lyrics: The entire song except for the chorus.

Then again, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise, since I hear this song played with fireworks at minor league baseball games. I suspect that the vast majority of the public does not actually know the lyrics except for a line or two out of context, thanks to Springsteen's drawl.

Posted by: Ironius Prime | November 8, 2006 3:01 PM

I don't recall "Born in the USA" actually ever being used in a commercial. The advertiser has to pay for the use of the song, and as far as I know Springsteen hasn't allowed that to happen.

There have been an awful lot of songs that SOUND like that, attempting to re-create that patriotic feeling -- the John Cougar one being the latest example.

Posted by: Cosmo | November 8, 2006 4:14 PM

There's a new Chevy commercial that uses American Pie. It runs the chorus up to "the levy was dry", but every time I hear it I have to keep singing the rest: "And good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye, singing this'll be the day that I die......" Death in an auto commercial! Yah!

Posted by: mitzi | November 8, 2006 5:16 PM


Posted by: jonny | November 16, 2006 7:41 AM

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