Pop songs are all about selling products, though usually the product is the song itself. For decades we categorized songs written to sell other crud as “jingles,” and some of those are more memorable than many top 40 hits: “I am stuck on Band-Aid,” “My baloney has a first name,” “Oh I wish I were an Oscar-Mayer Wiener.”
The line between pop song and jingle gets a little blurry now and then. Songs like “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing” were commissioned specifically for commercials, but they were intentionally designed to sound like hits rather than jingles from the get-go.
Beginning in the ’80s, all pretense vanished as pop stars like Michael Jackson began to openly shill for products. Today the line between pop music and commercial is essentially non-existent. Getting your cool song placed in an ad that goes viral is a strategy rather than a coincidence.
Here are a few songs that gained popularity (or capitalized on their popularity) while selling products:
“Get Hep,” Johnny Fosdick and His Orchestra (Pepsi).
“Chiquita Banana,” Monica Lewis (Chiquita).
“We’ve Only Just Begun,” (Later covered by the Carpenters) (Crocker Bank)
“I’d Like To Teach the World to Sing,” The Hillside Singers (later covered by the New Seekers) (Coca-Cola).
“My Adidas,” Run-DMC (Adidas)
“Like A Prayer,” Madonna (Pepsi).
“Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” Jet (Apple)
“1,2,3,4,” Feist (Apple)
There you have it: Eight songs made famous–or in some cases more famous–thanks to the commercials they appeared in. What did I miss? I’m listening.
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“This Note’s For You,” Neil Young.