12 Cool Songs Totally Ruined by Commercials

by Bill Murphy Jr.
Originally Published: 

Then I realized it was all part of an ad for some kind of cereal that cures constipation.

I guess every generation gets these moments. Boomers probably weren’t thrilled when Nike used The Beatles’ “Revolution” in a commercial in the 1980s, and while I’m not sure it ever aired, there was supposedly a commercial for Buick in the 1960s using The Doors’ “Light My Fire.”

But still. Here are a dozen of the worst offenders. Which ones did I miss?

1. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for Fiber One

This is the song/commercial that prompted this list. Awesome 1983 song by Bonnie Tyler, with lyrics bastardized to promote snacks that help you go to the bathroom. I wonder what it was like for the singers to belt out lines like, “I finally found the right snack!”

2. “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” for Subaru

Pogues lead singer Shane MacGowan’s dental surgeries don’t come cheap. At least they just left the song itself alone.

3. “Lust for Life” for Royal Caribbean

Let’s use a song about heroin addiction to sell cruises. That makes sense.

4. “Bittersweet Symphony” for Nike

Backstory. The Verve’s 1997 hit song was largely sampled from a version of the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time.” The Stones complained, won, and wound up with 100 percent of the royalties from the song, which they promptly licensed for commercials like this one for Nike. It’s still a good song, though.

5. “Think” for Big Lots

The original lyrics are about “freedom.” Here, they change the word to “value.” This is sad on all kinds of levels.

6. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” for Alamo

In 1998, Alamo Car Rental changed the lyrics of Bobby McFerrin’s a cappella hit from a decade before. This one doesn’t bother me as much, because while the song is catchy and nostalgic, it was on the soundtrack to the movie Cocktail, which should clearly be forgotten anyway.

7. “99 Red Balloons” for Coca-Cola

Remember how this song used to be about nuclear war?

8. “Push It” for Geico

At least Salt-N-Pepa are in on the joke.

9. “Mony Mony” for Nissan

It’s not so much that this is such a great song, it’s just that doing things like drinking from kegs and making bad decisions shouldn’t be associated with driving a car.

10. “Blue Monday” for Sunkist

I’m putting this one low on the list because I’m unsure if it actually ran in the United States. But still, New Order for Sunkist?

11. “Unbelievable” for Kraft

I hope EMF got a lot of cheese from Kraft for being willing to change the lyrics from this song to “Crumbelievable.”

12. “Whip It” for Swiffer

The guys in Devo said they agreed to allow their best-known song to be used for a Procter and Gamble product commercial because they found the entire idea absurd. I couldn’t find an embeddable YouTube link for this monstrosity, but you can see the full commercial “archived for educational use” here.

This article was originally published on