Sometimes a commercial needs the attention-grabbing power of a former chart-topping tune. Sadly, not all such songs have positive, uplifting, product promoting lyrics. Clever feats of video editing ensue. Examples:

Microsoft, with the Rolling Stones song "Start Me Up". Shortly after the "start me up (x3) and never stop" line comes "You make a grown man cry! (x3)". Not to mention, of course, the line before the song fades out "You make a dead man come." (props to Sylvar for pointing the latter out) There is much truth there in reality. For obvious reasons, the offending phrases were removed in the Win95 marketing assault.

Another example is a recent Toyota commercial with the song "Feeling All Right / Not Feeling Too Good Myself". Need I say more?

Anyone else with more sightings?

There's the Nissan commercial with the old Who hit "Won't Get Fooled Again." None of the vocals are actually used, but some lyrics that immediately come to mind are:

"Here comes the new boss
Same as the old boss"

This doesn't exactly inspire confidence that the new model will be any better than the older ones; and

"I get down on my knees and pray
That I won't get fooled again!

This one's not too comforting to current or former Nissan owners looking to buy a brand new one.

Then there's a Target ad that I saw while watching the 2001 Grammy Awards. It uses Devo's "It's a Beautiful World" to sell cleaning supplies (Windex, toilet paper, and diapers) and uses the lyrics of the chorus to great effect:
"It's a beautiful world ... for you"
Knowing the song as well as I do rather spoils the intent of the ad. I always have to add the line they cut out of the song
"....But not for me.

One of the funniest edited lyrics are the Rolling Stone's "Brown Sugar" as seen in the Kahlua commercial for their "mudslides". They have the line:

Brown sugar how come you taste so good?

but omit the second lines of this chorus:

Brown sugar just like a young girl should
Just like a...just like a black girl should

The entire song is about slavery, and people having sex with their slaves. Hardly the best corporate image for the Kahlua people to project!
Mitsubishi's use of Groove Armada's "I See you baby" in their Eclipse commercial has:

I see you baby, shakin' that ass

Replaced with the more tasteful:

I see you baby, shakin' that thing

Not only is this obviously annoying to anyone who has heard the correct rendition, but it feels obviously edited, like they had to "make room" for 'thing' over the shorter 'ass'. Yuck.

There's a Harvester ad (note to non-Brits : a Harvester is an English rural-themed chain of franchise restaurants, supposedly notorious for their bad food - lots of steaks and chicken-in-a-basket abound) on TV at the moment which uses The Christians song "(When Will There Be A) Harvest For The World?" - a song, for those who don't remember it (or its grisly animated video) about famine in Africa (with additional mention of nukes, pollution, endangered species, etc... the usual 1980's stuff). The song fades in as the camera pans low over a succulent ploughman's lunch at the end of the advert. (So that all you get to hear is the "When will there be a harvest for the woo-er--ee--orld" bit - none of the impassioned pleas that precede it.) Pretty sick, dude.

Another cool one being aired recently is for a Nissan car, which uses Portishead's Numb, and enthuses about the 'intelligence' inherent in the vehicle. Strangely it loops before hitting the first lines: "I'm ever so lost / I can't find my way..."

I believe Mitsubishi is also using Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" these days, which has some er, um, interesting lyrics (as you probably know from Trainspotting) that they managed to edit down to "I got a ... lust for life." Mitsubishi seems to be the prime violator in this category -- I sorta recall them carefully editing around Elastica's Connection as well.

But Nissan is holding its own by unloading the entire back-catalog of The Who on us (Baba O'Riley, Won't Get Fooled Again, whatever other riff-ish things Pete Townshend and the boys could auction off rights for...).

Then there is Mazda, who used riffs from half of the tracks on Crystal Method's Vegas album (particularly High Roller). Most of that stuff is not exactly typical family fare either.
There is some car commercial with The Who's song "Bargain" in it. You see the car racing down the street and hear..

"I call that a bargain, the best I ever had....the best I ever had!"

but somehow they omit the part before that says...

"I'd pay any price just to get you
I'd work all my life and I will
To win you I'd stand naked, stoned and stabbed..."

hmm...the word "bargain" in the song is not meant literally. It's a love song (or a song about God, depending on whose side your on) about going through hell to get something. Not a message you want to send to car buyers.

And, wow, I just heard a Clarinex commercial with yet another Who tune...the overture from Tommy. Maybe they should just use songs that were meant to be in commercials, like The Who Sell Out. hmm.

Also, I saw "Baba O'Riley" in a Ralph Lauren Polo commercial.

I guess Pete has to pay his son's college tuition somehow...
I mean, it's not like he has millions of dollars already...

also see: Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra, used in a Volkswagen commercial. But that's just kinda fancy, I think.

A commercial for Wrangler blue jeans has been airing recently, using the song "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The lyrics that get played in the commercial are:

Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, they're red, white and blue.

Strange though, they left the next two lines out of the commercial:

And when the band plays "Hail to the chief",
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord,

What was once an anti-patriotic anthem, is now a capitalist jingle, cashing in on the wave of patriotism currently sweeping the country. Just another example of corporate America twisting the meaning of a song to suit their needs.

A recent advert for Pizza Hut (or 'The Pizza Hut', as your granddaddy might say) emphasised the way one could 'twist' pieces of the crust off to eat.

For the backing music, they used 'Twisting' by They Might Be Giants, making good use of the lyrics:

She wants to see you again/
Twisting, Twisting ...

But sort of fading out / talking over the lyrics:

... in the wind.

The original song is one of those that satirise a formulaic type of song by sounding just like it (to show how easy the formula is to apply), but having the lyrics subvert the expectations raised by the sound1. It is very satisfying to see dumb-ass ad execs falling for the form and ignoring the content.

No, wait - maybe it was depressing to see something so clever emasculated and used for something so crass.

No, wait - I love Pizza Hut, and They Might Be Giants. So I guess I'm quite happy with the whole affair.

1 See also 'Lenny and Terence' or 'Do Re Mi So Far So Good' by Carter USM, or 'You're Gorgeous' by Babybird.

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