10 Best Commercial Songs of 2012
Say what you will about artistic merit: Our 10 Best Commercial Songs of 2012 list represents the year's most searched-for tunes, according to Diffuser.fm's crack team of Internet researchers, and the numbers don't lie. These tracks tickled the ears of countless TV viewers and sent the curious to their Google boxes in search of artist and song names. Many of these folks landed on Diffuser.fm's What's the Song? posts, which identify and give background information on indie and alt-rock songs featured in commercials, movie and video game trailers, TV shows and more. So go ahead and like or loath this music, but be sure to check out Diffuser.fm's list of the 10 best commercial songs of 2012. How else will you know what to buy?
The Talking Heads, ‘Once in a Lifetime’
Entertainment powerhouse Disney went old-school when it came time to pick music for the trailer to their new 3D animated flick ‘Wreck-It Ralph,' digging up the 30-year-old Talking Heads gem ‘Once in a Lifetime.' 'Ralph' just hit screens last month, but this trailer was making the rounds back in June, introducing David Byrne and his band to a whole new generation. ‘Once in a Lifetime' was featured the Talking Heads' 1981 album, 'Remain in Light.'
Hanni El Khatib, ‘You Rascal You’
Can't nail down the garage-rock stylings of the Black Keys for your TV spot? Hire a sound-alike! That may have been the thinking of the advertising team behind this Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum commercial, which features Los Angeles-based garage rocker Hanni El Khatib's hard-hitting, speaker-cranking — and admittedly very Keysian — jam ‘You Rascal You,’ which is in fact a modernized cover of a song popularized decades ago by jazz musician Louis Armstrong. The Keys' influence on the song ‘You Rascal You’ is no coincidence, as El Khatib will be recording his next album with none other than the band's frontman, Dan Auerbach.
Alex Clare, ‘Too Close’
Does a product that comes free with over 90 percent of the computers sold in America really need to advertise? Regardless, Microsoft put together a pretty killer spot for Windows 9 back in March, and the wildly colorful clip came complete with an equally groovy slab of electro-soul, compliments of Alex Clare, the British singer-songwriter who is known as much for his brief dalliance with late singer Amy Winehouse as he is for his debut solo album, 'The Lateness of the Hour,' which earned rave reviews when it dropped last year.
Bat for Lashes, ‘Glass’
Singer Natasha Khan probably wouldn't want to admit it, but the overly dramatic music she records as Bat for Lashes could almost be tailor made for something like the ‘Assassin’s Creed 3′ trailer, which provides the next entry on our 10 Best Commercial Songs of 2012 list. The latest chapter of the wildly successful and critically acclaimed series of video games hit stores last month, but the tremendous buzz behind it started as early as June with the release of this trailer, which features 'Glass,' a tune off Bat for Lashes' 2009 album 'Two Suns.' Never before has indie rock been so seamlessly integrated with a Revolutionary War-themed video game.
Eagles of Death Metal, ‘Only Want You’
Last month's massive roll-out of advertising behind Windows 8 got a major shot of adrenaline in the form of ‘Only Want You,’ the up-beat punk jam by Eagles of Death Metal that's heard in this, the first of several commercials promoting Microsoft’s first new operating system in three years. The clip features all the requisite footage of Windows 8 in action, but its ‘Only Want You' that really brings some frenetic energy to the proceedings.
Imagine Dragons’ ‘It’s Time’
The timing of this trailer — the source of the next selection on our 10 Best Commercial Songs of 2012 inventory — couldn't have been better if it had been planned months in advance. The film adaptation of author Stephen Chbosky’s critically acclaimed coming-of-age novel ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ was already garnering a bit of buzz when this trailer surfaced in June, but it was the inclusion of 'It's Time' — Imagine Dragons' own buzz-heavy hit, which was just starting to gain traction at the time — that pushed it over the top.
Neon Trees’ ‘Everybody Talks’
It's not your father's Buick! This clever spot, aimed a younger generation of potential Buick pilots, highlights the car's built-in Pandora streaming radio by showing a line of several tour buses, each carrying a different musical act. There's a country band, a symphony, chanting monks and, of course, Neon Trees, and they're all ready to jump into action when the woman driving a Verano at the front makes her musical selection on Pandora. “You guys are on,” says the bus driver when she picks Trees, and the band launches into their hit ‘Everybody Talks,’ right in the back of the bus.
The Lumineers’ ‘Ho Hey’
“I've been living a lonely life,” Lumineers frontman Wesley Schultz sings in 'Ho Hey' — but that loneliness won't last long. In this commercial for the Bing search engine, a young man stuck at home in the rain uses the power of Bing to consult his online friends for tips about a trip to Hawaii — and next thing you know, his plane is landing in Oahu, he's jumping off Waimea Rock and generally living it up in a tropical paradise, all thanks to Bing. It's all soundtracked by the gorgeous, folky grooves of 'Ho Hey,' the lead track from the Lumineers' stellar self-titled debut album, which dropped in June.
Interpol, ‘The Heinrich Maneuver’ + More
We'll admit it: We've had the music from this commercial in our heads, on and off, ever since the day we first saw it back in May. A couple on a cross-country road trip from California to New York City uses AT&T's 4G network to power their phone's playlist for the trip and listen to regionally themed tunes as they go. “How are things on the West Coast,” Interpol singer Paul Banks sings on the opening track of the spot as the couple cruises alongside the Pacific Ocean, and as they make their way east, their soundtrack runs through tunes by John Denver, George Strait and Creedence Clearwater Revival before ending with Ace Frehley's ‘New York Groove’ as they cross over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes’ ‘Love Letter’
Three guys walk into a sparse, no-frills dive bar and order three Heineken, and when the bartender pulls on the Heinekin draft arm, a series of wheels and wires spring into action, revealing an upscale joint full attractive young partiers getting down to the sounds of Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes, a nine-piece Australian outfit with a decidedly retro sound — and a singer with a soulful voice and more than passing resemblane to Amy Winehouse. It's a simple concept, really — showing the transformative powers of Heineken — but it worked, making their ‘Love Letter’ and the Heineken spot by far the most traffic-generating commercial on our site in 2012.