In the old days, commercial jingles were a genre unto themselves, all saccharine-sweet, and based in the pop-jazz of an old era. The demographic center of gravity decreed that the music not be far removed from that used in the days when radio was king. They might all be counted as "destroyed by use" from inception.

In the 60s, that changed, as baby boomers became a new target for advertisers. But, for the most part, you had jingles that were a mix of old style and the guitar-driven pop of the day - the jingles of the Pepsi Generation, for instance, or jingles sung (but not necessarily written) by bands like The Cowsills. Some of it was actually cool.

A new generation of jingle writers came in in the 70s, fluent in the pop styles of the day. But there was also a new phenomenon: recycling. Ajax brought back its "Ajax boom boom the foaming cleanser" in slightly revised form. Coca-Cola used "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", a song by The New Seekers, in their ads... Songwriters, like the two in The Cyrkle, transitioned into writing for advertising, and Barry Manilow did a jingle or two. And you had the beginning of the phenomenon of selling films with a "soundtrack" of hits-to-be; thank Robert Stigwood, I think.

In the 80s, recycling became de rigueur, especially if the song resonated with the baby boomers, who were now fully in place as Kings (and Queens) of Demographics. You had the California Raisins singing Marvin Gaye's "I Heard it Through the Grapevine". That was awful, though it was nice to know that Buddy Miles was picking up a paycheck for singing lead. The most notorious use of a song was in Nike's licensing of The Beatles' "Revolution" - something that neither John Lennon nor Paul McCartney would have allowed, but they never owned the rights to the song (I think, at this point, Michael Jackson did).

I remember one cool jingle since then: for Soft'n'Dri anti-perspirant. It was a better-than-the-real-thing approximation of late-80s New Wavey stuff. And kudos to the background music Honda used in its car ads for a while, various genres, well-executed, well-recorded.

Now every sonic memory is grist for the adman's mill, even if it's something fairly new by Stereolab or Lenny Kravitz. Ads for "extreme" sports products have been doing the Newness Thing for years. The fact that the "countercultural" medium of rock can be so quickly assimilated into The Man's purposes is a bit off-putting. When some tune by The Jesus Lizard or Atari Teenage Riot gets the nod for some high-exposure ad campaign, that's when I reach for my revolver. "Lust for Life" was almost the last straw, but then I would think of that silly grin Iggy had on the album cover, and lose myself in giggles.