It’s amazing how music can bring back memories. A familiar song comes on the radio and what happens? Suddenly your mind is flooded with thoughts of another place and time, thoughts of old friends, maybe even thoughts of a lightweight mop that can also sweep and dust.
That’s what I think of when I hear Devo’s “Whip it.” The song was recently part of a commercial blitz for the Swiffer, which is truly the most exciting household cleaning product ever to include the phrase, “When a problem comes along, you must Swiff it.”
Sure, the original song was about something very different than housework, and the music video featured whips, mature content and –- unless I missed it -– no Swiffering. But I’m sure turning “Whip it” into “Swiff it” was irresistibly easy.
Kind of like another ’80s song, “I Melt with you,” ending up in a commercial for Burger King. So what if the song has lines about living without hate and saving the human race? Melt with you, melting cheese on a hamburger ... it’s perfect! And come on, you can’t save the world on an empty stomach.
You also can’t survive the world with an empty wallet, which is why many ’80s tunes have been used in commercials. The musicians who take the cash are often called sellouts. But I see them more as clever opportunists because they give new life to their music, help sell quality products, and most importantly, because I’m contractually obligated to mention that milk does a body good. Also, this sentence is sponsored by Odor-Eaters and the entire column is built Ford tough.
Anyway, ’80s songs peppered commercials last decade. But now that it's 2012, it’s time for songs from the ’90s to get a chance. Some of the songs that we could see in commercials:
1. “Livin’ la Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin
The song became a hit in 1999 and it’s tune is recognized worldwide. That makes it perfect for a commercial that's memorable --- in a horribly bad way, of course -- for McDonald’s blended coffees.
Original lyric: “She will wear you out, livin’ la vida loca”
In commercial: “Everyone will shout, I love frappuccinos with mocha!”
2. “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus
Before Billy Ray Cyrus was wowing people on Dancing with the Stars by wearing too much makeup, he was known for making people all achy-breaky in 1992. Could his tune sweeten sales for Pop Tarts?
Original lyric: “Don’t tell my heart, my achy breaky heart”
In commercial: “Don’t take my tart, my flaky, tasty tart”
3. “Macarena” by Los Del Rio
The song that took over the planet in 1996, aided by a simple set of moves that made us all look like we were playing a game of Simon Says. The song was so overplayed that it quickly became cheesy, making it ideal for a Kraft “Cheese and Macaroni” commercial spot. I’m so confident this will happen, child actors might be doing the dance at auditions today.
Original lyric: lots of Spanish words, followed by “Hey Macarena!”
In commercial: lots of kids dancing, followed by “Cheese and Macaroni!”
4. “Ice, Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice
Yes, it’s perhaps the most lampooned song ever. But hear this 1990 song once and it’s stuck in your head the way Vanilla’s hurricane-proof hairdo was stuck to his head.
Original lyric: “Ice, Ice Baby”
In commercial: So many possibilities. Minute Rice, rice baby. Old Spice, spice baby. Smirnoff Ice, ice baby. Or maybe as a public-service announcement featuring Vanilla Ice talking about how to get rid of lice, lice baby.
5. “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba
The title might not give it away, but this is the song that gave us “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down” in 1997. Yes, that will now be stuck in your head all day. But in a country that seems to discover maladies so we can have more medication, this is bound to show up in a pain-reliever commercial.
Original lyric: See above
In commercial: People getting knocked down, getting up again, but thanks to pills, nothing’s keeping ’em down.