There's a reason companies pay huge money to stick famous songs into their TV ads -- half the time, the song is the only thing that makes the commercial memorable. So you would think advertisers would be extra picky come time for music selection, since the whole point is to get their product to absorb some of the cool factor of the song by some kind of cultural osmosis.
Yet, as we've shown before, some marketers are content to slap any old catchy riff into their ads, regardless of the incredibly awkward context that the lyrics might create ...
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According to Apple, if you purchase the new iPhone 5s, you've basically purchased Utopia. To hammer that point home, they've saturated the market with a commercial hyping all the amazing things you can do with their phone: conduct orchestras, launch rockets, translate shady-looking road signs, and possibly make a stupid phone call if you must.
Their kick-ass song of choice is The Pixies' "Gigantic." You know what's gigantic (besides your phone bill if you don't read the fine print)? A black man's penis, according to the song:
Yep, no amount of taking the chorus out of context (Gigantic, gigantic, gigantic / A big, big love) helps in this case. The verses make it 100 percent clear that the band has a thing for big, black cock:
Lovely legs they are
What a big black mess
What a hunk of love
Walk her every day into a shady place
He's like the dark, but I'd want him
If inadvertently reminding us that you can access porn on your iPhone wasn't enough awkwardness for one day, Apple included this young lady among the gaggle of photogenic musicians using their phone to rock out to '80s grunge:
Why, yes, that is an 8-year-old girl some ad agency has now permanently attached to an ode to hard schlong. And considering how Apple re-recorded the song to make it sound less raw (and added a celebratory horn break to boot), they had to have heard the lyrics and figured out what they entailed. Besides, the band itself has all but confirmed the message, citing the movie Crimes of the Heart as inspiration. A major plot point in Crimes? Sissy Spacek bones a black teenager.
And suddenly, a rocket is no longer just a rocket.
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As far as commercials for hard liquor go, this one by Jack Daniel's seems pretty harmless. It's simply a montage of people doing fun shit with bottles of Jack scattered all over the place. Whether in a swank hotel lounge or some sketchy-as-fuck watering hole you wouldn't enter without a SWAT team backup, mash whiskey is there for you.
The soundtrack is a late-'80s rock song, and what the hell else would you expect from a Jack Daniel's ad?
Instead of a party song or an old-timey drinking song, Jack Daniel's chose to sell their shit to the tune of Jane's Addiction's "Jane Says" ...
... a light and cheery bit of sunshine detailing the woes of a heroin addict (a real-life woman named Jane) caught in an abusive, codependent relationship with her boyfriend/drug dealer.
Triple X Records
"Not every girl is lucky enough to get immortalized in song as the ultimate junkie loser."
It, as you might have gathered, is not a love ballad:
Jane says, "I'm done with Sergio
He treats me like a ragdoll"
She hides the television
Says, "I don't owe him nothing,
But if he comes back again
Tell him to wait right here for me
Or just try again tomorrow
I'm gonna kick tomorrow."
Poor Jane has to wear a wig due to hair loss, barely eats, constantly talks about saving money for a trip to Spain but never does, and is generally an absolute mess of a human. Jack Daniel's took that life and used it to hawk an addictive product that could easily mess up other people's lives. But hey, dig that funky steel drum!
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Tales of hopelessness and total despair you can shake your tail feather to.
Naturally, Jack Daniel's played dumb, as companies are wont to do. Their official stance: "We weren't aware that this song allegedly deals with drugs." Why, were the lyrics translated into Urdu on their copy? Did they think "I'm gonna kick tomorrow" meant Jane wanted to play soccer in the morning? For fuck's sake, the band's name is JANE'S ADDICTION. The song couldn't have been more obvious if they called it "Woman Doing Drugs."
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In 1995, Volkswagen wanted to market their new line of hatchbacks by presenting them as 4,000 pounds of freedom. Without their cars, the ad argued, humanity traps itself in a bubble of homebodied sterility, with 500 channels and Windows 95 sheltering us from the joy of zooming around the great outdoors.
Sure enough, the whole thing plays over a rockin' song about freedom (presumably, since all we hear is the singer shouting the word "free" several times). What the hell could be offensive about freedom?
The song you hear is "Roman P" by the band Psychic TV, featuring the catchy-as-fuck chorus of "Are you free? Are you really free? Are you really, really, really, really free?"
Just one problem: "Roman P" is Roman Polanski, the song being about the famous filmmaker and how he infamously raped a child and got away with it. He's certainly really, really, really, really free, but only because he fled to France in the '70s and has hid from justice ever since. "And you, too, can flee from justice ... in a Volkswagen!"
As long as it isn't the one these kids are in.
The song isn't exactly a scathing attack, either. In fact, one verse all but praises his extremely questionable life choices:
Life of money, life of sex
Life of money, life of hex
Little girls drinking and eating of cake
Little girls gorge you, your greatest mistake
Damn those little girls and their sexy-ass gorging! As if this wasn't bad enough, the song then pays "tribute" to Sharon Tate, Polanski's ex-wife who died horribly at the hands of the Manson Family:
Sharon walks alone as your wife
Sharon gives her life for a knife
Sharon floating high up above
Sighing, crying, dying below
Clearly, nothing says "break free from the mundane and embrace life" like child rape and ritualistic murder.