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Adtunes presents the Top Ad Music of 2008. Here is our annual list of the most memorable ad music trends from the past year.



10. Justice is Served
U.S. cars and SUVs may have fallen out of favor, but luxury car maker Cadillac doesn't want you to forget about the Escalade. The band Justice (French DJ duo Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay) lent their electro house track "Genesis" as the theme for 2008 Cadillac Escalade commercials featuring actors Brian Bloom and Sofia Vergara. The track was also used in a commercial for Levi's 501 jeans and in the Punisher: War Zone movie soundtrack. Taken from the band's 2007 album Cross (album title "" according to the band), Genesis imparts the crunchy techno that commercial producers love.

9. Mickey Mouse Club
The stars of the Disney Channel appeared in countless TV commercials throughout the year, making them the go-to talent pool for "tween" themed ads. The Jonas Brothers covered "Hello Goodbye" for retailer Target. High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens sang for Sears and Mark Ecko. Ashley Tisdale performed wearing Degree Girl deodorant. The Disney movie High School Musical 3 got a bit of cross-promotion courtesy of a Sara Lee commercial. Songs by Disney artists including Miley Cyrus were featured in an Target holiday commercial.

8. Welcome to The Show
This year's "pop folk female singer-songwriter makes the big time via commercials" would be Australian singer Lenka (aka Lenka Kripac). Her song, "The Show", first premiered in an Old Navy commercial, later in an Ugly Betty commercial for ABC, and then followed by a trailer for the Renée Zellweger movie New in Town. Not bad for a former children's television show host. Lenka and her music are no strangers to television -- her songs have previously been featured in shows like 90210 and Grey's Anatomy.

7. Studio Work
In recent years, TV commercials have been using well-known pop songs, breaking new artists, or even hiring popular musicians to perform licensed ad music. (Which reminds us of our yearly requirement to mention the reigning ad-cover queen Cat Power.) All of this comes at the expense of music created exclusively for commercials and other ad songs produced by music studios and producers. But in 2008 there was a slight shift back towards agency produced music. A few examples: Ad music gurus Wojahn Bros Music received a surprising amount of attention for their tongue-in-cheek "Oh No You Didn't" song for the Mercenaries 2 video game commercial and the musical nursery rhyme "Follow Me" for a Shaun White Snowboarding game ad. Commercials for the video game Pure featured "Fragments of Time" by Stuart Cary Hunter, a licensed track from APM Music. Blurring the lines between a record label, indie musicians, and ad music agency, Black Iris scored several TV spots including Cadillac, Miller Lite, and We Can Solve It. Kael Aiden, of the band Faded Paper Figures, composed the song "Where You Belong" (available as a free download from music studio Robot Repair) for the Lexus RX350 "Pebble Beach" commercial.

6. A New Enterprise
Diretor J.J. Abrams is "re-imagining" the Star Trek franchise for his upcoming Star Trek XI film. Something else that is being re-imagined is the music in the Star Trek movie trailer. The original music is called "War Begins", from the Children of Dune miniseries score by film composer Brian Tyler. The Star Trek trailer uses a new arrangement of the "War Begins" track, which is titled "Down with the Enterprise". This new extension of the Dune track was created by composer Nick Phoenix of the trailer music company Two Steps From Hell. Nick Phoenix writes: I was hired to continue 'War Begins' where it left off. It doesn't get big and exciting enough for a trailer and it's a bit short. The additional music I wrote is now property of ABC and is being called a new arrangement of 'War Begins'.

5. Battle of the Bands
The recession may be hurting the overall economy and ad spending, but one corner of media may be recession-proof: video games. 2008 saw countless ads for the Guitar Hero and Rock Band video game franchises. Guitar Hero ads highlighted special editions: Guitar Hero Aerosmith and the upcoming Guitar Hero Metallica. Rock Band commercials featured songs from Coheed & Cambria and AC/DC. The most prolific ads were the Guitar Hero World Tour spots created by film director Brett Ratner. The ads re-create the Tom Cruise Risky Business underwear scene with the Bob Seger anthem "Old Time Rock and Roll", despite the fact that the song isn't included in the game. Versions of the ad featured High School Musical alumni Corbin Bleu, American Idol contestants David Cook and David Archuleta, and an all-star "sports" band with Kobe Bryant, Michael Phelps, Alex Rodriguez, and Tony Hawk. But the only version anyone noticed was probably the one with supermodel Heidi Klum, especially the more risqué "Director's Cut" of her Guitar Hero commercial.

4. Striking Gold
This year's Overseer Overexposed Award goes to singer Santogold (aka Santi White). Her self-titled debut album Santogold (and album singles "Creator" and "L.E.S. Artistes") have appeared on several year-end top music lists, including top singles and albums of the year in both Spin and Rolling Stone magazines. In 2008, Santogold's music received exposure in several TV commercials, including ads for Converse, Budweiser, Ford Flex, and VO5. She even appeared in the Converse commercial along with Pharrell Williams and Julian Casablancas. It should come as no surprise that two thirds of Santogold's album has already been licensed for use in advertising. She seems to be okay with that arrangement, even if some others are not.

3. Viva Backlash
Sometimes really bad ideas in advertising can elevate a simple ad-pitch into a target of outright hatred. This is particularly true if an ad takes a beloved piece of music and pushes it in directions the viewer is unwilling to go. For example, many were not up for hearing the Elvis Presley classic "Viva Las Vegas" reanimated into "Viva Viagra" ads. Fans of the John Hughes 1980s classic film The Breakfast Club did not appreciate the JCPenney "High School Cinema" commercial cover version of the film and it's signature Simple Minds song "Don’t You (Forget About Me)". But the biggest negative reaction to a TV ad had to be directed at Toyota and it's less than inspired re-recording of The Fixx classic "Saved by Zero" used in the Toyota 0% APR financing commercials. The Fixx lead singer Cy Curnin: It's a bit cheesy. I would prefer to have been the one singing it.

2. Making Progress
An interesting Audi A4 commercial called "Living Room" premiered during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The spot shows a time lapse transformation of a room ending with an Audi car in the driveway along with the tag line "Progress is Beautiful". The piano track from the ad is called "Notes on Progress". Composed by Nate Morgan of ad agency EliasArts, the song was a popular topic in our forums. The commercial was part of the Audi Truth in Engineering campaign. Elias Arts Creative Director Dave Gold: For ‘Living Room,’ our goal was to combine orchestral instrumentation along with contemporary rhythms and voices, to create an organic/classical musical feel. We wanted to mirror, through music, the visuals, which were a depiction of standard luxury, which slowly evolves into a more contemporary, modern luxury. Starting with just piano and strings, portraying an older luxury feel, we expanded the music with more traditional elements, mixing, recording and filtering them, to ultimately deliver a more than traditional, yet still contemporary/modern feel -- a musical evolution of luxury.

1. Flying High
In 2008 the trailer for the "stoner action comedy" Pineapple Express featured a distinctive musical hook courtesy of British singer-songwriter M.I.A. (aka Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam -- our third "aka" stage name in this year's list). Her song "Paper Planes" did not receive much attention until it appeared in Pineapple Express spots and later in the movie soundtracks for Hancock and Slumdog Millionare. The track samples the Clash song "Straight to Hell" for the musical hook. (And to keep the sample family tree going, "Paper Planes" was later sampled in "Swagga Like Us" by T.I. and Jay-Z.) All of the attention from Hollywood eventually led to "Paper Planes" being nominated for a Grammy award for Record of the Year. "Paper Planes" by M.I.A. may be the first example of a pop song gaining popularity and a Grammy award nomintation as a direct result of it first appearing in an ad.

Download the iTunes iMix of the Top Ad Music of 2008

Paper Planes
by M.I.A.


Download from Amazon iTunes