As I reluctantly retyped my iTunes password confirming my payment for Backstreet Boys’ ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)’ I considered how I had reached this meagre point in my life. Shameful as it is, I couldn’t stop this track spinning in my head and adverts are to blame. Screw you, ‘Go Ahead’ and your oh so beloved breakfast bars which I haven’t tasted. Screw you for putting an orchestrated version of this terribly embarrassing song which people will raise their eyebrows at if they browse my iPod. But, thanks for making me think about how powerful product selling can be for the music industry. If you’ve ever found yourself desperately typing lyrics into Google whilst watching TV, then this one is for you. Let’s look at the tracks that may not have been without adverts. And no, we’re not talking ‘washing machines live longer with Calgon’.
1) Alex Clare – Too Close
If there’s anyone who should be thankful to advertising, it’s not just the Backstreet Boys, it’s Alex Clare. Remember ‘Too Close’? Dubstep(ish) track, soulful vocals and a lot of tapping drums? It climbed to number four in the charts after being featured in an advert for Internet Explorer 9. It’s a brilliant forefront for ‘Lateness of the Hour’, Clare’s debut album, which is full of filthy bass and lovely lyrical laments. He then went on to secure a major US record deal and he’s recently worked with drum and bass heroes Rudimental. Imagine how much he’d be kicking himself if he didn’t let Microsoft use that song.
2) The Noisettes – Don’t Upset the Rhythm (Go Baby Go)
Mazda 2 used the second single from soul rock ‘Wild Young Hearts’ in 2009 and 2010 to persuade drivers to buy a shiny new, ludicrously green car. It soon became the highest selling song for the group as well a song that I constantly play at parties simply because, everyone knows it! It’s a catchy, beat driven track and The Noisettes deserve the royalties; it brought soul and fun back to pop. And, probably sold a lot of snot coloured cars too.
3) Hurts – Illuminated
You may have missed this one. Before (unfortunately) working with Calvin Harris, Hurts were a tonne more atmospheric, dark and cool. Sky Movies heard this and used ‘Illuminated’ to advertise unmissable new drama. Full of slow sythpop suspense and euphoric angelic vocals, it made many, including myself googling ‘WHAT IS THE SONG ON THE SKY MOVIES ADVERT?’, making Hurts unmissable drama too.
4) Wild Beasts – Underbelly
A magical melody ends a very dim hearted track from weird indie band Wild Beasts. Santander heard it and decided to loop it a million times alongside smiley smiley family moments to try to make switching your boring bank account a bit more bearable. It’s questionable whether this actually publicised the band any further as no one can search for ‘do do de do do do’. But, if you ever feel the need to feel like you’re in a bank advert, then you’ve found the soundtrack for it. You can also read my review of the band live here: https://vulturehound.co.uk/2014/07/bst-hyde-park-friday-review/.
5) Dan Croll – From Nowhere
I actually found this song on Spotify, but I knew I had heard it before. Croll’s zingy electronica sensation was stripped of its harmonious vocals and used in a Toshiba advert. Play it, you’ll recognise it. Download it and you’ll thank me for introducing you to a promising songwriter.
There’s a lot of money and publicity involved in adverts and you cannot blame bands for becoming a little bit capitalist to support their passion. Some may see it as selling out but consider how hard it is competing with a million other musicians and how easy a song can become an ear worm if someone hears it after watching Miss Marple. Even if you regretfully have to download the Backstreet Boys or buy an ill coloured car, adverts are a big part of our lives, so why not make it one that gives us more tunes?