I’ve said it before. Indie rock in commercials has lost its stigma. We applauded Iron & Wine’s dippy M&M kaleidoscope, The The’s handsome Dockers, My Morning Jacket’s low carb beer diet, Papas Fritas’ Dentyne dance, Jose Gonzalez’s Bravia ride, Morningwood’s American Eagle wardrobe… I can go on forever. (Apples In Stereo gave a convincing defense of this “selling out” to NY Times a few years ago.)

When Cat Power recorded a song especially for Cingular and Karen O for Adidas, the blogosphere went wild. We can only assume no one minded when Rolling Stones did the same for Rice Krispies back in ’64:

Band’s gotta make a buck, even if TV execs pick songs that stop making sense.

BUT there is one disturbing twist to the trend that’s rubbing Stereogum the wrong way. And that’s when lyrics are rewritten about the product.

Here are the latest offenders:
PRODUCT: Kraft Crumbles
PITCH:: “They’re crumbelievable!”

PRODUCT: Swiffer
PITCH: “Swiff it!”

PRODUCT: Papa John’s Pizza
ARTIST: The Go-Go’s
PITCH: “We got the meat!”

There’s also a new Maxwell House spot butchering Madness.

Maybe you’re not rolling your eyes ’cause those are oldies. I mean, Jane Wiedlin was on Surreal Life for chrissakes. But what if … your favorite indie/alternative songs were rewritten to pitch products? Would you go for that? “Fake Tales Of Rice-A-Roni (The San Francisco Treat)”? Let’s hear your best indie-tune-turned-jingle in the comments. The more ridiculous the better. Wittiest gets a cool prize I haven’t thought of yet.

Or, for the lazy: just tell us the latest indie rock song you heard in a commercial.

Comments (71)
  1. Another Cat Power just-for-commercial recording was a version of “Somewhere” (from West Side Story) for a TIAA-CREF commercial. Vic Chestnutt and Ian McColloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) also recorded versions of the same song for that series of commercials. I liked them a lot.

  2. Katie Parker  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2006 0

    Yesterday I heard the intro track on the new album by The Elected during a commercial. Can’t remember what it was for…

  3. Land of the Bat  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2006 0

    HSBC or whatever that bank is uses Sonic Youth for all their latest spots.

  4. A few years back, I made the yet-to-come-to-fruition prediction that Porno for Pyro’s “Pets” would one day be the soundtrack for a Haggar ad:

    “We make great pants! We make great paaaa-aants!”

    It will happen!

    Also, Hole’s “Malibu” can be converted to sell, well, Chevy Malibus by substituting only two words:

    “Drive away…in your Malibu!”

    PS: I realize that neither of these bands are “indie.” I’m just sayin’.

  5. Anybody read/hear about when Frito-Lay used a Tom Waits impersonator in a Doritos commerical? He sued their ass to the tune of something like 2.5 mil. in damages. Perhaps more than he’s made on album sales throughout his entire career?

    Here’s a link to an NPR story with audio of the offending commerical: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4633751

  6. Simple:
    Quasi’s “It’s Hard To Turn Me On” for V iagra.

    But I can’t think of a greater sacrilege than rewriting Elliott Smith’s “Pictures Of Me” for Kodak:

    so sick and tired of all these blurry pictures of me
    completely wrong
    the moment’s totally gone
    oh, everybody’s dying just to get the Z740

  7. …perhaps obvious….

    band: Arcade Fire
    song: Wake Up
    product: Hasbro Easy-Bake oven
    sample lyric:

    ‘Children bake up,
    pull your white cake out,
    before it turns the edges into crust.’

    double bonus: college stoner kids get an anthem and an excuse to blaze up and watch Saturday morning cartoons (as if they need it)

  8. I’ve always thought the Sugarcubes’ “Regina” would make a good jingle: “Ho, ho — Oran-GI-na!” But that’s not really contemporary indie rock. How about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs? “Spa-a-m, Spa-a-m, Spa-a-m, Spa-a-m, wait — they don’t love you like I love you.”

  9. Brendan  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2006 0

    the lesson in that Apples in Stereo article is that ad agencies are more than content to throw indie bands a pittance to create more mounds and mounds of cash for themselves.

    i’d never fault a band for doing it (unless it was really egregious, and using dead people to do it still creeps me out – waiting in horror for Joy Division being used to hawk a toaster or something), but if we’re going to be “realistic” about it, that’s part of the reality too – indie’s get peanuts, corporations make millions.

  10. you can’t forget the jingle that ween came up with for a pizza company (i think it was dominos). they had the first version called “where’s the cheese at?” when that was rejected by the record company, they rewrote it as “where’s the motherfucking cheese at?”

  11. Butchering Madness is SOOOOO early 80′s. At least they used Baggy Trousers, which is obscure in this country: http://youtube.com/watch?v=iDJ9ANLc0PE (the Colgate Pump)

  12. Jack  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2006 0

    Yeah, I’m pretty upset about the re-working of the EMF song. It had so much credibility before the ad. Urp.

  13. Coke – The Boy Least Likely’s “Warm Panda Cola” (It’s already short enough for a commercial at a bit over 40 seconds).

    Greyhound Buses – Cat Power’s “The Needle has Landed” (An eagle swooped down from a semitrailer/
    Took the name of your town from a sharktooth freighter/ The needles the same its recorded and played/ As when you left me at the greyhound station the year i moved away)

    The US Postal Servcie – Bob Drake’s “The Skull Mailbox” [Through rain, shine, or phantom mailboxes. The Postal Service.]

    And finally –

    Microsoft – Regina Spektor’s “The Ghost of Corporate Future.”

  14. Vitalic’s “My Friend Dario” should be a car commercial.

  15. PRODUCT:Hilary Rodham Clinton
    ARTIST: Bloc Party
    PITCH: “Six More Years. [SNTRCLNTN Remix)”

  16. PRODUCT: Howard Stern, Sirius Radio
    ARTIST: Fruit Bats
    PITCH: “Slipping on through the Censors.”

  17. PRODUCT: Sesame Street
    ARTIST: M.I.A.
    PITCH: “Ba – Na – Na [Skit]”

    (“Get yourself an education!”)

  18. Most of us here probably steal these bands albums, then bitch about them trying to make a living.

    Make the music you want to make. Then make all the money you can off of it. USA! USA! USA!

    My ideas:

    Chicago Seemed Tired Last Nite/Hold Steady- Red Bull
    No Cars Go/Arcade Fire – Car Batteries
    You Will Miss Me When I burn/Palace – Smoke Detectors
    Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie/ Joanna Newsom – Red Lobster
    A Skeleton On Display/Now It’s Overhead – Weight Watchers

  19. jules  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2006 0

    “where did you get that ipod in your pocket?”

  20. Totally coughed up my soda, when i heard “I Turn My Camera On” (spoon) in a Jaguar commercial last night. Dont mind them doing it at all… not my business… just wasn’t expecting it.

  21. Laura  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2006 0

    Ted Leo could do a little dubbing to create “Where Have All the Grass Stains Gone?” to promote laundry detergent.

    Regina Spektor’s “Reading Time with Pickle” could do a nice little spot for Vlassic too.

  22. The Elected is playing in commercials for Orbit whitening gum. The song is Clouds Parting (I think).

  23. “Ho-Ho-Oran-Gina”/”Where Have All The Grass Stains Gone?” — that’s what I’m talking ’bout. I’m asking for LYRIC CHANGES in this game. I know it’s Friday, but that’s what I was getting at.

    Anyway, to the dude who said
    > Butchering Madness is SOOOOO early 80′s.
    > At least they used Baggy Trousers

    I was referring to the Maxwell House ad that uses “Our House.”

  24. Sophie  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2006 0

    “The Needle Has Landed” is by Neko Case.

  25. Holla  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2006 0

    Just heard Spoon’s “turn my camera on” for a Jaguar ad…

  26. Don’t know if they make salt commercials, but Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — Gimme Some Salt…

    and I’d like to see Belle & Sebastian’s Legal Man on one of those cheapo malpractice law firm ads.

  27. mittensohmy!  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2006 0

    product: Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
    song: Say Valley Maker by Smog

    “And I sing (Hey Hidden Valley)
    to save my salad.
    And I sing (Hey Hidden Valley)
    to save my salad.

    Take me to the sweet Valley
    where the sweet dressing flows.”

    And this one’s not a lyric change, but I’m obsessed with it, so you have to hear about it. It’s for Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes and it shows all these people in their homes thinking about Ed McMahon coming to their door and The White Stripes “My Doorbell” is playing.

  28. Burton  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2006 0

    Colgate offered Clap Your Hands Say Yeah a ton of money to use “The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth,” in a commercial, but they turned it down…

  29. *Still stunned that Psychedelic Furs are in a verizon commercial…*

  30. Josh in Translation  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2006 0

    Just for fun, if the Brooklyn/Philly act needs a little cash on the side: Clap Your Hands Drink Sprite. They could also score some recording funds with the hit “Folgers and Folgers and Folgers Again”.

    Ted Leo could let punk die and make a pretty penny with “Me and Miada”.

    We Are Scientists could cement their status in malls across America with “The Great Steak Escape”.

    Cat Power could follow her Cingular stint with some candy-slinging in “You Are Spree”.

    And since I just figured you wanted lyrics, and to go back to CYHSY, let’s do some

    “Ohhh, I’m doin’ all this walkin’ / Ohh I need to ease my achin’ knees / And I say, I need a break / Give me a break / Put me in a chair / A Rascal chair / For my achin’ feet / My achin’ elder feet”

    Maybe Death From Above 1979 could jump on the bandwagon as well.

    “I am sweeping / all these leaves away / with the new broom / I got at Lowe’s today! / There’s a sale in our stores today / from housewares to standing lamps”

    Ah, capitalism.

  31. LCD Soundsystem: “Preparation H Is Playing in My Ass”

  32. ?Since Special K Made Over Me?, The Clientele

    I now think I’ll be happy in every way/After two bowls of it every day/
    And my pants are so loose/ And so freeing/
    Since Special K Made Over Me/ Since Special K Made Over Me?

  33. jim guthrie wrote the capital one ‘hands in my pocket’ jinglesong, which is perhaps my new favourite song ever.

  34. jim guthrie wrote the capital one ‘hands in my pocket’ jinglesong, which is perhaps my new favourite song ever.

    ..available here:


  35. If Regina Spektor were to be used in an ad, I’d be too excited about hearing one of her songs on the tv to have any sort of cerebral reaction, negative or otherwise.

    DFA 1979′s “Sexy Results (MSTRKRFT Edition)” could be used in a Victoria’s Secret ad without editing.

    How’sabout some Yeah Yeah Yeahs?

    “Clorox’s gonna show me where the white goes! Ooh ooh!”

  36. J.La  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2006 0

    I don’t know if someone has thought of this, but Yo La Tengo’s “Autumn Sweater” could be great for a GAP commercial. Wouldn’t even really need to change the lyrics.

  37. Jason  |   Posted on Apr 1st, 2006 0

    Did The Black Keys sign a pact with Nissan that gave them the rights to multiple songs or what? I realize these guys aren’t a big blog band but after seeing them live I am a fan. I have heard 3 of their songs featured in ads which is 3 more than I have ever heard on the radio. Damm you Nissan!!

  38. I’ve been drinking, but…

    remember Razzles gum? It’s candy, but turns into gum?

    Annie: “Chewing Gum”

    “No, oh no, you’ve got it all wrong/You think it’s candy but it’s Razzles gum.”

  39. Laura  |   Posted on Apr 1st, 2006 0

    Some more-
    “Melt (in) Your Mouth”/ Jenny Lewis for M&Ms
    “Another Sunny-D” Bell and Sebastian for Sunny-D

  40. the idiot  |   Posted on Apr 1st, 2006 0

    and now that Courtney Love’s sold the Nirvana catalogue out (is it easy to spend $44million – plus interest- in ten years, Courtney? I bet your stereo is kick-ass) we should get:
    “wouldn’t you believe it it’s just my luck
    wouldn’t you believe it it’s just my luck
    Do- ri-toes”
    or other horrors.

  41. patrick  |   Posted on Apr 1st, 2006 0

    Not quite indie but

    switch it up for Ruby tuesdays…

    “Destination….Ruby Ruby Ruby Tuesday”

  42. Lo  |   Posted on Apr 1st, 2006 0

    How about Janes Addiction:

    “Jane says she has fun with cheerios, they treat her bad cholesterol…”

  43. 42 posts in and no Sufjan yet? what, is he already shotgunned by the tourist boards of a couple of northern US states I won’t mention.

    Diet Coca-Cola Day – ‘All the glory of a Can of Coke, but without the sugar and the calories, and it tastes, and it tastes and it tastes (good)’

  44. mittensohmy!  |   Posted on Apr 1st, 2006 0

    Thanks for making me obsessed with this.
    product: Eggos
    song: Who Let You Go by The Killers
    jingle: “L-l-l-leggo my e-e-eggo

  45. mittensohmy!  |   Posted on Apr 1st, 2006 0

    Thanks for making me obsessed with this.
    product: Eggos
    song: Who Let You Go by The Killers
    jingle: “L-l-l-leggo my e-e-eggo”

  46. Sorry that this isn’t part of the game but I wanted to bring up something quite ammusing that possibly many of you don’t know.
    After New Order’s Blue Monday was a big hit in the UK, Sunkist commisioned them to write a jingle using the same tune but changing the lyrics. The result:

    “How does it feel
    when a new day has begun?
    when you’re drinking in the sunshine
    Sunkist is the one…
    …when you need a taste for living,
    Sunkist is the one.”

    Bernard Sumner had to paint a picture of the money he was getting paid and hang it in the studio to keep himself from laughing throughout the recording.

  47. Wilco for wine spritzer?

    “Maybe all I need is a lot of Boone’s Farm…”

  48. Nadim  |   Posted on Apr 1st, 2006 0

    Man Man – Engwish Bmw

    “All i want to drive is a b-m-w”

  49. AMoR  |   Posted on Apr 1st, 2006 0

    other real commercials:
    m.i.a.’s “Galang” in a Honda commercial
    the bravery’s “Unconditional” in a Saturn commercial
    Chemical Brothers’ “Galvanize” in a Bud commercial
    Fischerspooner’s “Emerge” in L’oreal commercial

    Soo….how about The Gossip’s “Standing in the Way of Control” for a Depends commercial?

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