Pop songs and shilling crap have always gone hand in hand, but the over-playing of commercials and just plain terrible merchandising campaigns have slaughtered certain pop songs for all eternity. Here are eight songs you can’t hear without thinking of product placements.
8 – “Right Now” by Van Halen: Crystal Pepsi
“Right Now” you crave that refreshing nostalgic taste of Crystal Pepsi.
I just noticed “right now” in the commercial that Crystal Pepsi was caffeine free. Rip-off! At any rate, we’re going to get this one over with immediately. Whenever this Van Halen tune comes on in the car, you know you’re giggling about Crystal Pepsi. The song rocks, but bad branding has forever associated it with that joke of a beverage.
7 – “Move This” by Technotronic feat. Ya Kid K: Revlon
On the plus side, we don’t hear this one too often anymore.
Revlon popularized Technotronic’s song to the point that it became their third hit single in North America. Before that it wasn’t even on the airwaves. But thanks to Cindy Crawford and her high-waist jeans and perfect Revlon face, we can now associate hip-house music with liquid foundation. Finally.
6 – “Venus” by Bananarama: Venus Razors
“Venus” for Venus? Oh, they weren’t even trying!
Venus Razors came out in 2001, long after Bananarama covered “Venus,” but every time I hear an 80s compilation, I have the urge to shave my legs.
5 – “Like A Rock” by Bob Seger: Chevrolet
I can get a truck for $8,000? Why did I blow $23,000 on a Focus?!
One of the longest running commercial series that features a pop song has to be Chevrolet’s “Like A Rock” truck commercials. I bet that man sold a lot of trucks. Especially at $8,000 a pop.
4 – “Anticipation” by Carly Simon: Heinz Ketchup
I save my anticipation for extra pickles.
Looking at how a song is used in a commercial and comparing it to the songwriter’s original intention can be quite interesting. Originally, “Anticipation” was written about Carly’s impending date with Cat Stevens. Which is clearly the same feeling you get about waiting for that sugary tomato paste to slither out of the bottle.
3 – “Tarzan Boy” by Baltimora: Cool Mint Listerine
The commercial that made proper oral care bad ass.
This song isn’t ruined in the same sense as the others. At least Listerine’s commercial is animated well and is upbeat. But, like what plagues the other songs on this list, you can’t listen to it without immediately wanting to rinse your mouth out. A little trivia for you before we move on: this commercial was made by Pixar.
2 – “Start Me Up” by The Rolling Stones: Windows 95
Insert joke about blue screen of death/not starting up.
“Start Me Up” was the first Rolling Stones song ever used in a commercial, and they blew it with Windows 95. There are worse versions of Windows, of course, but for a band like the Stones to pop that cherry with Microsoft—it just seems off.
1 – “Like A Prayer” by Madonna: Pepsi
How could a deal with Madonna not work out? She’s delightful!
Madonna made a cool $5 million back in 1989 to let Pepsi use “Like A Prayer” in a commercial. The day after said promo aired, Madonna released the actual music video for “Like A Prayer” on MTV—a video that featured burning crosses, stigmata, and the humping of a black Jesus. Whether or not pairing with Madonna to peddle soda was a good idea or not is up in the air, but it did bring a lot of attention Pepsi’s way—especially in the form of protests from religious groups. The Pope at the time even banned Madonna from Italy. That’s pretty hardcore.
Did we miss a pop song that was ruined for you by commercials? Let us know by leaving a comment!
Author: Linz Rewind
Linz is a freelance writer and editor who just so happens to be obsessed with E.T. for Atari. Try not to hold it against her.