A lot of people like football. Even more like children dressed up as Darth Vader trying to use Jedi mind-tricks around the house. It's no wonder, then, that the last Super Bowl drew more than 111 million viewers, setting the record for the largest U.S. television audience in a single broadcast--the commercials are the best part.
From cars you'll never be able to afford swooshing around tight mountainous turns to a googly-eyed stack of money staring down innocent bystanders, TV companies understand that a commercial is only as good as the song it can get stuck in your head. Why else do you still find yourself reaching for that bag of Meow Mix in the grocery store after all these years? You don't even own a cat.
There are countless commercials that could (and probably should) be on this list, but here are 10 of my favorite based strictly on their music--some original compositions, others Billboard toppers.
1. Schweppes: "To Build a Home" by The Cinematic Orchestra
This song has been used and reused in television shows and film trailers since it's release on the album Ma Fleur in 2007. Canadian singer/songwriter Patrick Watson provides the vocals for the dreamy track, which beautifully compliments the slow-motion water balloons and curious kids frolicking in the streets.
2. Freecreditreport.com: Eric Violette
French Canadian Eric Violette landed quite the commercial gig, playing a hapless schmuck with a life ruined by terrible credit. He starred in nine commercials singing various-themed songs, such as living with his in-laws and bicycle riding, but there's a slight catch. Though Violette does sing and play guitar in real life, that's not actually him singing in any of the commercials. In fact, Violette knows little English, so he lip-syncs while a studio musician performs in his place. Also, the guys aren't in a real band. They're just actors.
3. K9 Advantix: "Hello Mother, Hello Father" by an adorable puppy
A little-known fact is that this is actually a parody of the 1963 novelty song "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" by Allan Sherman about a child at the fictional "Camp Granada." (You can listen to it here.) The song also borrows the tune of "Dance of the Hours" by Italian composer Amilcare Ponchielli.
4. NFL: "Wake Up" by Arcade Fire
Watching Reggie Bush soar over a Miami defender into the end zone summarizes all the emotions that come with watching professional football, and the fans can get downright belligerent in the moment. Slowing it all down to the uplifting sounds of "Wake Up" makes the fact that Americans spend a good deal of their time sitting around watching 300-pound sweaty men tackle each other seem not so primitive.
5. Diet Coke: "Sweet Disposition" by The Temper Trap
The meaning of this ad is a tad lost on me. After a series of unrelated images, including a well-dressed man waking from a nap, a newborn baby, and an explosion, it's all capped off with "Stay Extraordinary." That's classy. Regardless, the sweet, swooning track is impressive in its own right. The Temper Trap, an indie-rock band from Australia, legitimately captures the feeling of a song released 25 years ago, and it's not even three years old. If it weren't for the song, this ad would be pointless.
6. iPod Nano: "1234" by Feist
Apple commercials have always featured solid songs (remember the ad for the non-color iPod featuring "Ride" by the Vines?) This Nano commercial helped propel Feist's career, as it was nominated for two Grammys and was ranked #19 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 best songs of 2007. It is still her most successful single to date.
7. Pepsi: "We Will Rock You" by Britney Spears, Pink, Beyonce
Freddie Mercury might be rolling over in his grave, but there's something secretly addicting about this commercial. Three iron-clad female gladiators emerge to a crowded and uproarious coliseum, then trade off singing parts to "We Will Rock You" by Queen. The king--aka Enrique Iglesias--is toppled by the crowd's foot stomping and is presumably eaten alive by a lion. No biggie.
8. Nike: "Don't Speak" by Eagles of Death Metal
One of the best sports commercials in years, the rough attitude and intense filming of the Nike soccer commercial plays excellent along side gritty band Eagles of Death Metal. The band, fronted by vocalist Jesse Hughes and drummer Josh Homme (who is also the lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age), has a garage rock vibe that goes well with just about anything involving testosterone.
9. iPhone: "Perfect Timing" by Orba Squara
A ditty like this sounds like it was written specifically for the iPhone commercial, but it's actually a song by New York singer/songwriter Mitch Davis. This isn't the first track Davis has had featured in a commercial, and it won't likely be the last. He has been coined "the new Moby" because nine out of 10 songs on his debut album Sunshyness have been licensed for television and film projects.
10. Geico: "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell
Geico managed to strip away the creepy lyrics from Rockwell's 1984 debut single, only by making the evil antagonist a stack of money. The song features Michael and Jermaine Jackson on backing vocals and has been covered and featured numerous times over the years.
What's your favorite song from a commercial? Post it in the comments below!