Revival By Commercialization
"It's always a bit odd when you remember that pop culture does not consist of hermetically sealed elements that don't interact; it's like learning that 'As Time Goes By' was an old song by the time Dooley Wilson played it for Ilsa."
A mostly-forgotten song gets used in a prominent movie, TV show, or commercial
. Suddenly, it is everywhere. Other shows, movies, and commercials start to use it. A lot. It is back on the radio, maybe even back on the charts. The original album it came from sells like hotcakes. Somewhere, a songwriter makes a lot of unexpected money.
Also known as the "Guitar Hero
effect" — via the phenomenon of old songs finding a new audience by their inclusion in the game. Can be helped along by Watch It for the Meme
, at least in the case of Rick Astley
Particularly successful examples may eventually become Standard Snippets
. Might overlap with Breakaway Pop Hit
, and often creates a Newbie Boom
See also The Red Stapler
and Song Association
, which sometimes involves this as well. Also compare Colbert Bump
Ironically, if this works really well, the song can remain popular after the work that revived it has been forgotten about.
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- Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" after it was in that cereal commercial. It was also in Glee and IMAX Hubble 3D.
- The acapella act Straight No Chaser also mashed it up with Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours".
- Nick Drake's "Pink Moon", as used in a Volkswagen ad. His three albums, especially Pink Moon, experienced their highest sales ever to that point after the advertisment started airing.
- "Mr. Roboto", and Styx in general, came back with a vengeance after the VW commercial.
- Yet Another Volkswagen ad: "Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra.
- This seems unlikely, since the Volkswagen ad didn't exactly get a lot of airplay.
- This song was also used for the French telecom company SFR's ads — there is even a version sung by Lily Allen, which appeared in an ad.
- There was a Honda Accord ad that used "Hold On Tight."
- Monster.com used E.L.O.'s cover of "Do Ya." The album it came from was reissued, after being out of print for years, a month or so after the commercials started running. Coincidence?
- And still yet another VW ad: Clannad, "Theme to 'Harry's Game'." (Although, it disappeared just as quickly, as new-agey songs sung entirely in Irish Gaelic is something of a niche genre.)
- That was also sampled in "Saltwater" by Chicane, which in turn was used in a Tourism Ireland advert.
- The Christmas classic song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" got a big boost in downloads after British grocery chain Marks & Spencers used it in an ad campaign.
- In the U.S., it emerged from the holiday radio ghetto when it was used in a memorable "back to school" commercial for Staples.
- Prez Prado's "Guaglione" was a big hit after its use in a Guinness ad.
- Prado's "Patricia" got popular after its use in Royal Mail adverts.
- Jimi Hendrix's "Crosstown Traffic" enjoyed a revival in the UK after being used in a commercial for... um... something or other...
- Doris Troy's "Just One Look" (and/or cover versions of it) went through this big time back in The Nineties, appearing in many commercials (including a famous one for Pepsi starring Cindy Crawford). (Unfortunately this did not include the version by Klaus Nomi)
- After Louis Prima's "Jump, Jive, An' Wail" was featured in a commercial for The Gap, both the 1956 original and Brian Setzer's cover got a fair bit of radio play. Indeed, this may be a case of genre revival-by-commercialization, as the Gap ad is credited with (temporarily) re-mainstreaming swing.
- A strange Venezuelan case was Henry Stephen and his 1960's song "Limon Limonero", who became relevant (and parodiable) in The Nineties after being repurposed for a lemon-scented bleach commercial.
- If you've heard Trio's "Da Da Da" or a cover of it at any time later then the early 1980s, you almost certainly have Volkswagen to thank for that even if you don't remember the 1997 ad that revived the song. If you live in the UK, you may also have seen it in this mid-to-late 80s ad.
- The similar sounding "88 Lines about 44 Women" by the Nails (which was not the same band as Nine Inch Nails, YouTube commentators notwithstanding) was also used in some kind of car commercial in the 90s that nobody remembers now, which started it on the way to several well-known parodies and fan-made videos like this one.
- Levi's Jeans adverts have resulted in three UK number one singles by this method: Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" in 1987, Steve Miller Band's "The Joker" in 1990, and The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" in 1991, though a certain Stephen King movie may have also helped "Stand By Me".
- A Volkswagen ad featuring "Young at Heart" by The Bluebells got that song to No. 1 in 1993.
- The Hollies' "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" reached No. 1 in 1988 (almost 20 years after its original release) after being featured prominently in an advert for Miller Lite beer.
- It was also used in promotional material for the American Boys Town in the 1980s, which is appropriate because it was inspired by a legend based around an illustration which was used by Boys Town by founder Father Edward Flanigan in the 1940s to promote what Boys Town was doing.
- It is primarily known in Canada as the backing track for a famous anti-drug commercial produced by Concerned Children's Advertisers, which featured a man going to visit his ailing brother at a hospital and hugging at the end. The commercial played for many years on various Canadian stations and grew very popular as a result.
- Andy Williams's "Music to Watch Girls By" got a boost after it was used in a British car advert. The funny thing is that it was a Top Ten Jingle to begin with - the music came from a McDonald's ad.
- The Human League's "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" has recently been revived in a Verizon smartphone commericial, and as a Softer And Slower Cover by Rob Crow in a Kingsford Charcoal commercial.
- Gorillaz's "Feel Good Inc.", appearing as the cover in an American Ipod ad, led to the popularization of the band in the United States outside of Alternative radio. (It remains their only top 40 hit in America.) It's even mentioned in their book Rise of the Ogre as one of the main reasons they became popular to begin with.
- Similar effect happened to "New Soul" by Yael Naim and "1234" by Feist, two indie folk songs that managed to make the Top 10 in the US after appearing in Ipod ads. Brazilian electro-indie band CSS' "Music is My Hot, Hot Sex" only made it to #63 after appearing in an American Ipod ad, but this was still the highest charting placement by a Brazilian artist on the Billboard Hot 100 since Sergio Mendes had a top 10 hit in 1983.
- "Tainted Love" was an obscure B-Side by Soul singer Gloria Jones until New Wave artists Soft Cell took their cover version to the charts in 1981, but by the early 90s even that had faded from all memory. Enter Levi's Wide Leg jeans.
- Canadians of a certain age hearing "Bang a Gong" are instantly reminded of a slew of 1980s Labatt's Blue ads.
- In America, the theme from The Magnificent Seven is always linked to Marlboro commercials (at least, back when cigarette commercials were legal in the U.S.).
- It's hard to listen to the "Hoedown" movement of Aaron Copland's ballet Rodeo and think of anything but "Beef: It's what's for dinner!"
- Brazilians know "Chopsticks" as "the Danoninho song" (the product being a petit suisse by Danone). Of course many foreigners associate that one with Big...
- Most Brits above a certain age will automatically think of Cornetto ice creams when they hear the music for "O Sole Mio"
- This will forever be known as "The Viagra Song" for a certain section of the North American population.
- "From the New World" (colloquially known as "The New World Symphony"), composed following Dvorak's visit to America, will forever be known as "the Hovis music" to a certain section of the British public, following its use on a 1973 advert for bread baked in Hertfordshire.
- For Americans, Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" will always be linked to montages of sad, abused animals in cages in commercials for the ASPCA.
- When Americans hear any part of Rhapsody In Blue by George Gershwin, they can't help but think of United Airlines.
- The Youngblood's "Get Together" is now remembered as one of the essential songs of The Sixties, but it was just another unsuccessful folk-rock cover when originally released in 1967. Only when the National Conference of Christians and Jews used it in radio ads in 1969 did the song become a hit.
- Dave Grohl said he tries to avert this - even rallying with John Kerry after George W. Bush used "Times Like These" in commercials - but agreed to license a song for a Japanese beer ad so that the Foo Fighters' dressing room would always be filled with Kirin.
- Modern English's "I Melt With You" has experienced a resurgence in recent years via inclusion in several commercials, including one for the GMC Acadia Super Bowl clip (which featured a lounge version) and a 2010 Hershey's Chocolate promo (which featured a holiday-themed cover of the chorus).
- Yellow Magic Orchestra recorded an acoustic version of "Rydeen" for a beer commercial, putting both the new and original versions of the song on the charts nearly three decades after it was first released.
- Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" became popular again after it was used in a commercial (the skydiving one) for HTC smartphones.
- Alex Clare's song "Too Close", released in 2011, had little success despite having a top production team, and Clare was eventually dropped from his record label. In 2012, "Too Close" was used in an ad for Internet Explorer 9, and within months of the ad's debut the song reached the top 10 on the Hot 100.
- New Radicals' "You Get What You Give" was used in a Mitsubishi ad in New Zealand and Australia several years after it reached #1 and #13 in those countries respectively. The song's renewed popularity led to a re-release of the band's only album with a sticker reading "featuring the song from the Mitsubishi ad".
- A Carlsberg advert with a Vindicated by History message did this with the Ira and George Gershwin song "They All Laughed" in 1999, leading to at least one modern cover in 2000.
- 1976 Fruit and Nut commercial("Everyone's A Fruit and Nut Case"), set to the tune of Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Reed Flutes".
- The somewhat obscure ZZ Top song "Velcro Fly" has been given a popularity boost thanks to a prominent mention in The Dark Tower books.
- Reversal: this happened to the source novel when the 1986 musical version of The Phantom of the Opera arrived.
Live Action Television
- Brazilian artist Supla was mostly forgotten around 2001. Then a MTV Accentuate the Negative show, Piores Clipes do Mundo ("The worst music videos in the world") decided to showcase one his videos, "Green Hair". Even though Supla initially complained about it ("they never show my videos, and when they do it's on Piores!"), the exposition was enough to revive his career - it helped the show was so fond of "Green Hair" it appeared nearly Once an Episode.
- Frank Sinatra's cover of "Love and Marriage" was a hit in 1955, then forgotten until it became the theme to Married... with Children in 1987.
- Rock around the Clock used in Happy Days.
- "In The Street" which introduced the mainstream late 90s audience of That '70s Show to the music of cult musician Alex Chilton and Big Star.
- Somewhat related: Elvis Presley' "A Little Less Conversation" was mostly forgotten, and didn't even make the top 40, when originally released (it only peaked at #69). Then in 2002, it was remixed by Junkie XL, got featured in commercials and soundtracks, and became a #1 hit in many countries. It's now a standard number in Elvis impersonator acts in Las Vegas. It is also used as the theme song to the TV show Las Vegas.
- The song "Skinnamarink" ("Skinnamarink-a-dinky-dink, skinnamarink-a-doo") dates back to 1910, but is best remembered now as the theme of the Canadian children's show Sharon, Lois & Bram's Elephant Show.
- The song "Rubber Bullets" by 10cc was released in 1973, but has since become more well-known after it was used in the Superjail! pilot.
- Glee is doing that to most of the songs it features. So much so artists are offering licensing at a reduced rate.
- While it's never exactly been obscure per se, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" is back in the forefront of pop culture's noggin thanks to The Sopranos series finale and its appearance in an episode of Family Guy involving a karaoke bar.
- It was also helped by being featured prominently on Glee.
- Before that, it was the film Monster.
- And the big Eliot/Shaun relationship scene in Scrubs. The song was featured in a few scenes("My Journey"), since JD insisted that Turk and Carla should have a Journey cover band at their wedding.
- People forget that this song was far from Journey's greatest hit when they were active, but it is now the song they're best remembered for, and to people who weren't around during Journey's prime, it's probably the only song they know by them..
- American Idol will do this for a song, especially after a very good performance. Heart's "Alone" was performed by Carrie Underwood in the fourth season to great acclaim, and then surfaced on albums by Celine Dion and (previous Idol contestant) Clay Aiken not long after, on Glee a few years later, and several times on later seasons of Idol by luckless female contestants at trying to outdo her.
- Soul classic "Reet Petite" by Jackie Wilson reached number one in the UK in 1986 (almost thirty years after original release) after a BBC Two arts show called Arena played a claymation video of it.
- Billy Vera's "At This Moment" went from being a little known song released in 1981 to the #1 song for 15 weeks in 1987 after it was played on Family Ties.
- Saturday Night Live did a sketch about this: a fake commercial for a compliation album of songs that both parents and teens could enjoy together because of their re-emergence in commercials. For example, "Good Vibrations", which Mom remembers from listening to Beach Boys records as a kid, and daughter recognizes as the theme from a Sunkist ad.
- The NBC Sunday Night Football song — originally sung by P!nk, currently sung by Faith Hill — is a rewrite of the 1988 Joan Jett song "I Hate Myself For Loving You".
- Tracey Chapman's "Fast Car" got to number 4 in the UK music chart after it was covered by a contestant on Britain's Got Talent.
- "Harder Than You Think" by Public Enemy, released in 2007, saw a re-emergence five years due to its use as the theme tune to 2012 Paralympic coverage on Channel 4, including its adverts prior to the event. Reaching 4 in the UK singles charts, it became Public Enemy's highest-charting single in the country to date.
- The fairly recent spike in popularity of "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" in certain circles has been linked with a video of David Tennant and the cast of Doctor Who dancing to it.
- Part Live-Action TV and part Web Original: An early viral video on the internet was a loop of a CGI baby dancing to Blue Swede's cover of "Hooked on a Feeling". Combined with the video's appearance in an Ally McBeal episode, the song received a resurgence in popularity and is even mistaken for a '90s song by somenote .
- Ant And Dec performed their old song Let's get ready to rhumble on Saturday Night Takeaway in 2013. A week later it was Number 1. It only managed Number 9 the first time round in 1994.
- The 2000 rap song "Danger (Been So Long)" by Mystikal found new popularity after John Oliver used it to ridicule NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner's online alias "Carlos Danger" on The Daily Show in the summer of 2013.
- Badfinger's "Baby Blue" re-entered the iTunes top charts after its use at the very end of the series finale of Breaking Bad.
- The song "Cult of Personality" was successful back in 1989, winning a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for the band Living Colour. It (and the band) toiled in relative obscurity since the mid-1990s. When CM Punk began to use this under his new "voice of the voiceless" gimmick (he had used the song previously in Ring of Honor), it created a new audience for the song, which jumped into the iTunes Top 100 downloads list, and also reached the top 10 of the rock charts. The band confirmed on their Facebook page that they will be performing it for CM Punk's entrance at WrestleMania 29. A true CMoA in the making.
- Older than Television: Reginald De Koven's song "O Promise Me" was originally published years before it became a popular interpolation in his 1890 comic opera Robin Hood.
- On their Greatest Hits Album, the band Goldfinger happily acknowledge that they had no fans in the UK until they had a song of theirs put on the first Tony Hawk game.
- Rage Against The Machine's Guerilla Radio and Anthrax's Bring The Noise are fondly associated with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, as well.
- Tony Hawk's Underground 2 is considered to have the best soundtrack of the entire series, and increased the popularity of Los Angeles by X and Break On Through (To The Other Side) by The Doors.
- The Grand Theft Auto games have re-popularized the songs featured on their soundtracks. It was even the Trope Namer for Song Association.
- This is especially true for a lot of the great, classic New Wave tracks selected for the games. As an example, "Vice City" alone introduced a brand new generation to Romeo Void's "Never Say Never", "Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Tears for Fears's "Pale Shelter", "(I Just) Died in Your Arms' by Cutting Crew, INXS's "Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down the Mountain)", and "Life's What You Make It" by Talk Talk, amongst other musical gems.
- The songs Vice City is most remembered for by UK fans are The Pointer Sisters' "Automatic" and Aneka's "Japanese Boy" due to their obscurity but the fact they are always playing when you go into the Malibu bar.
- Robot Unicorn Attack did this for Erasure's "Always".
- So many songs have found new life after being used in Rock Band and Guitar Hero that it's easier to just say that rock as an entire genre has been revived by these games.
- (In their live shows, however, DragonForce refer to "Through the Fire and Flames" as "The song that made Guitar Hero famous".)
- Guilty Gear Isuka brings us "Might is Right but Tight." You may know it better as I Wanna Be the Guy's Game Over (Press 'R' to try again) theme.
- The Menu Theme for IWBTG is the character select screen for Isuka, and the first gameplay music is "Home Sweet Grave".
- BioShock. How many people born after, say, 1980 would know Bobby Darin's "Beyond the Sea" and other such songs? Some would know "Beyond the Sea" from Finding Nemo — but this also qualifies for the trope (and Covered Up, since it's sung by Robbie Williams). It's also popularized a number of Billie Holiday's minor singles, among other songs on it's soundtrack.
- Happened again with BioShock Infinite. How much are you willing to bet that not a whole lot of people knew about "Beast" by Nico Vega before the Beast of America trailer came out?
- Same for the Fallout series for even earlier tunes (The Ink Spots' repertoire, Cole Porter's "Anything Goes"...), usually thanks to the fact that the tunes chosen can either set up Soundtrack Dissonance or Suspiciously Apropos Music, depending on what you're doing at the time.
- A number of Ink Spots songs also appeared in the BioShock series.
- Another Ink Spots song, "It's a Sin to Tell A Lie", appears in Fallout: New Vegas, but it's Bill Kenny's solo version rather than the original. In addition, FNV's Radio New Vegas features Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Marty Robbins, Nat King Cole, etc.
- Several classic rock songs used in Call of Duty: Black Ops, plus The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter", which was used in the commercial for the game, experienced a rise in popularity and iTunes sales.
- "Someone Else's Song" (by Wilco) AKA More Gun
- "Do You Believe in Magic?" by Lovin Spoonful is by no means an obscure song. But then it was used in The Pyro's happy dream sequence...
- "Fly Me To The Moon" was revived in Bayonetta (sort of, it's known as "That Evangelion song" in Japan.)
- Spy Hunter revived Henry Mancini's theme music from the by-then forgotten series Peter Gunn; to the point where it was more commonly known as "The Spy Hunter Theme".
- "Carbon Kid" was a relatively obscure (but epic) song by the even more obscure electronic rock band Alpinestars. It got then featured in 3 games, which are all (or have elements of) racing games: Project Gotham Racing 3, Test Drive Unlimited and All Points Bulletin (the free-to-play GTA-ish game known today as APB Reloaded).
- Like they did with BioShock 2K Marin has made people looking for "Don't Lie To Me" by Stompy Jones, when it was used in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified trailer.
- The ever-popular "Tetris A-Type theme" is an arrangement of Korobeiniki.
- Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" thanks to the Rickrolling gag. Rickrolling made Astley so popular he came out of retirement and is making new music again.
- Caramell (now the Caramella Girls), after the Caramelldansen Vid.
- Loituma’s version of the Finnish folk song “Ievan polkka” surged in popularity after a snippet was featured in Leekspin.
- Pretty much any song featured on "The Weather" from Welcome To Nightvale
- World Of War Craft Machinima "Dude Where's My Mount?" renewed interest of "Butthole Surfers" - "Dracula from Houston" when they used it as their intro.
- Styx's "Come Sail Away" experienced a surge of new popularity after Eric Cartman sang it on South Park.
- Family Guy:
- "First of the Year (Equinox)" by Skrillex got a boost in popularity when it showed up on the premiere of the Beavis And Butthead revival.
- The original show popularized songs such as White Zombie's "Thunderkiss '65", and contributed to the downfall of Winger when a Butt Monkey character constantly appeared wearing a Winger t-shirt.
- Several music are made known thanks to Regular Show, such as "Hangin Tough" by New Kids on the Block, and I Get Around by the Beach Boys.
- Number 14 of The Thirty-Six Stratagems is "Borrow a Corpse to Ressurect the Soul", meaning to revive something from the past by giving it a new purpose, or reinterpret it to your advantage.
- "Mississippi Queen" by Mountain went through this twice. The first time was when it was featured in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, and the second time was when it was featured in the Regular Show episode "Weekend at Benson's."
- Ravel's Bolero became very popular in the UK after Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean ice-danced a medal-winning duet to it at the 1984 Winter Olympics. In 1994 the couple did the same favour for Let's Face The Music And Dance.
- Similarly, "Parisienne Walkways" by Gary Moore shot up the download charts in Japan to take the #1 spot after figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu used the song for his record-breaking short program in the 2014 Winter Olympics.