Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Take Five / Commercial Break: That Song From That Commercial

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 8, 2008

Come on come on come on come on come on come on check it out

If there’s one musical quest I find more satisfying than scavenging for the original versions of songs that get sampled by more prominent hip-hop and dance tunes, it’s finding the full-length versions of songs I hear snippets of approximately 45 times a day in TV commercials. A good use of a song in a commercial should imbue the song deeply into your subconscious to the point where you know the words better than some of your favorite songs, but don’t ever think of it unless the commercial is on or has been on in the last 15 minutes (at which point, of course, you reflexively sing along). Chevy did its best to try to permanently spoil the practice with its “Our Country” series, and tried to play their own game, leaving me scrambling for the mute button every time, but a handful of expertly-soundtracked ads keep the torch burning.

  • Benjamin Pacheco – “Falling AwayThe rare commercial song that actually sounds better in its full-length form–sweet drum production, some minorly soulful vocals, all-around class act– “Falling Away” nonetheless will forever conjure the images of ballers jumping into a basketball court pool, which somehow describes the exact sensation of drinking a cold Sprite on a hot day. Speaking of which, how can you get away with a commercial like that without some kind of special Don’t Dry This At Home warning? When the first ten-year-old breaks his legs dropping from a basketball net expecting the concrete beneath him to provide a perfect cannon-ball landing, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • Chris Knox – “It’s Love Honestly, I didn’t even remember what this one was a commercial for (beer, apparently, non-Red Stripe). It’s all about that song, written by New Zealand royalty Chris Knox (“Not Given Lightly,” apparently once voted as the 13th best New Zealand-written song of all-time, is also pretty quality), a lithe little love song that makes for the most endearing commercial since that Levi’s one that used Madness’s “It Must Be Love” a little while back.
  • Greenskeepers – “Vagabond This one’s actually pretty exciting. Dunno who these guys are (from Chicago, apparently), but it sounds like a DFA’d-out TV on the Radio song, which is a pretty good thing to aspire to. And it fits the ad–the most prominent commercial for Grand Theft Auto IV, which I guess is the best video game of all-time or something–pretty perfectly. Nothing will ever match the beauty of those Vice City ads with “Easy Lover,” though–can’t believe how long it took me to realize what a classic song that was.
  • Amos Lee – “Sweet Pea This one’s a little bit old, but it’s deifnitely a guaranteed entry into the Commercial Gold playlist. Short, sweet, probably annoying in a context-free environment–about as ideal as it gets. And it’s a terrible ad, too–cell phone commercials don’t have the best strike record, don’t you know–but goddamn is that song purty. Dude’s from Philly, too, apparently.
  • Apples in Stereo – “The Sun Is Out Best known as being part of the Elephant 6 collective and doing a song for the Powerpuff Girls sountrack (likely the only band that can boast those dual-resume stats), I couldn’t believe that Apples in Stereo was the act behind this one–it sounded like one of those sultry-er T. Rex songs from their Slider era, with the thick, loping bass lines, tambourine and reverb-heavy percussion and fireside chant-like vocals. The rest of the song doesn’t really venture too far from the chorus, but it’s a simple sentiment that’s exactly what I want to hear at the crest of a season where I actually want to be outside occasionally, maybe.

And if anyone has an mp3 of Joe Prudy’s “Can’t Get it Right Today” to share, do let me know.


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