A History of Musical Sell Outs

Is there anything worse than a favourite song being used in a commercial?

There is truly nothing worse than a great song—a true classic—being used by some evil corporation to hock product. You might interrupt me and point out that Guinea worm is indeed much, MUCH worse, and again I would agree. But then I’d have to ask you to please fuck off while I finish the intro to this scintillating listicle. Yes, we feel cheated when our favourite songs appear in TV commercials. It can make you want to cry. Here are five examples of how the Devil is real and nothing is sacred.

McDonald’s: “Sunshine of Your Love” Cream

When this ad appeared in 1998, I almost wept. I love “Sunshine of Your Love”. Everyone does. When someone begins a story with “Back the 60s…” I immediately hear this riff—and McDonald’s have used it to slang their goddamn fart burgers. You know when you have no choice but to eat McDonald’s because you’re somewhere where there’s nothing else to eat? And you know that feeling after you’re done, like you just ate actual human turds? Like you might die? That’s how this ad makes me feel. Fuck you, Ronald. Eric Clapton is rolling in his grave—the guy ain’t even dead yet.

Volkswagen: “Pink Moon” Nick Drake

To be fair, this commercial introduced a hell of a lot of people to the late great Nick Drake, myself included. It’s an amazing song from an amazing album, and the lives of many have been enriched by its discovery. So, thanks, Volkswagen. Thanks for dangling a gazillion-dollar carrot in the face of the Nick Drake estate and ensuring that we all got to hear this timeless and impossibly unique song, even though it’s now forever synonymous with your poxy cars. Geh fick dich und deine Autos.

Target: “New Sensation” INXS

This is a recent desecration (one that is also no longer available on Youtube), and more proof that the surviving members of INXS either don’t know the meaning of legacy or they just don’t care. How much money do those dudes need anyway? A reality show that determines the next lead singer of INXS? Come-the-fuck-on. I’m not privy to the finances of the Farris brothers, but I’m assuming they don’t want for calico suits and sports cars. Maybe they need to scale back their lifestyle so Michael Hutchence can rest in peace instead spinning like a table leg on a lathe. Just sayin’.

John Lewis: “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” The Smiths.

Granted, this is a pretty good ad, and Morrissey himself greenlit the usage… but still. It was bad enough when they used The Psychedelic Furs’ rendition of “How Soon is Now” for Charmed (actually that was pretty cool), but “Please, Please, Please”? That song isn’t about being a cute little boy who can’t wait for Christmas, it’s about being a grown-ass man who can’t find anyone to love him, like Shane Warne. Thumbs down.

Cadillac: “Rock ‘N Roll” Led Zeppelin

This SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS. But you know what? I haven’t lost any respect for Led Zep. If anything I love them more because this proves that they can’t be tarnished; they’re impervious to besmirchment. This ad doesn’t make me want to buy a fucking Caddy—it makes me want to listen to Led Zeppelin IV. I honestly can’t imagine anything sullying the Zep legacy. Robert Plant could come on TV tomorrow and that he and some bikers gang raped Justin Trudeau, and I’d think, “Oh, Jeez, that’s terrible. Still, how great is ‘Stairway’?”

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