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Ten Best Songs In Car Commercials

Tamara Warren
October 24, 2011


There’s more than one way to measure the best songs used in car commercials. Since “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” became a diddy for California Raisins, it’s hard to hear the classic Marvin Gaye track without picturing those darn dancing raisins wearing sunglasses. If you see a flash of a vehicle and a song comes into your head, that’s is the mark of an agency’s effective commercial campaign. The drawback, of course, is that a decent song becomes a tiresome. While you can bet that the artist or label that holds the publishing has garnered a splendid licensing fee, the song will never sound the same. Both  and  have compiled lists of their favorite songs from car commercials. But I use different criteria -- the more pervasive, the better.

Here are ten of the most memorable songs in car commercial form:

10. John Mellencamp’s “Our Country” for Chevrolet. Mellencamp was handed down the classic Chevy truck title after Bob Segar’s “Like a Rock” owned it for two decades. The song was the first single from his 2006 album “Freedom’s Road” and captured the essence of middle America on a quest for something more substantive in their trucks.

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9.  Black Sheep “This or That” for Kia

Black Sheep’s party favorite was used for this 2010 Kia commercial. It was reported that one of the group’s members wasn’t aware that Universal had licensed the song according to until after the commercial aired.

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8. Wilco "Sky Blue Sky: Volkswagen

Wilco released this statement when they were accused of being sellouts for licensing their music (via )

As many of you are aware, Volkswagen has recently begun running a series of TV commercials featuring Wilco  music. Why? This is a subject we've discussed internally many times over the years regarding movies, TV shows and even the odd advertisement. With the commercial radio airplay route getting more difficult for many bands (including Wilco); we see this as another way to get the music out there. As with most of the above (with the debatable exception of radio) the band gets paid for this. And we feel okay about VWs. Several of us even drive them.

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7. Sting’s "Desert Rose" for Jaguar

Sting’s manager sent the video for the song to Jaguar, and then collaborated with Jaguar’s agency Ogilvy & Mather on the video, opening up the doors for commercial and art to mingle with some degree of credibility.

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6. Vampire Weekend - “Holiday” for the Honda Civic

This Vampire Weekend song was also licensed to Tommy Hilfiger according to the raising the question, do Honda owners wear Hilfiger?

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5. Cat Power covering David Bowie's "Space Oddity”  Lincoln MKS

In 2008, Lincoln opted for cool, conceptualism that didn’t go over well by of Bowie’s lyrics.

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4. Sheryl Crow's "Every Day Is A Winding Road" for the Subaru Impreza.

Sheryl Crow explained the use of her hit song to Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. According to :

"I get a bit itchy about things like that. And I'm sure most artists do. When I was coming up, an artist would never have sold a song to a commercial. That would be the quintessential selling-out, and I think when Sting got in the Jaguar and Bob Dylan was in the Victoria Secret commercial, it felt like 'okay the floodgates have been opened and now that our industry is really suffering so badly, the best way to get marketing dollars and to have your music heard is through a commercial.

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3. Dirty Vegas "Days Go By" for Mitsubishi

It was reported that the licensing of this song jumpstarted Dirty Vegas in the club circuit.  devoted an article to the resurgence of commercial pop locking that happens in the Mitsubishi interior.

"Dirty Vegas had already chosen "Days Go By" as a single when a Mitsubishi executive saw the video in a hotel room in Europe. That person tracked the trio down and they agreed to license the song because they felt good about the company. "I don't think we'd do a burger commercial," Smith. "With a car commercial, you know, Sting does it. Massive Attack. Fatboy Slim does it. I think it's changed because you've got cool directors directing the [commercials], so visually, you know they're really rich and colorful.” "In America, with your segregation of radio stations, you can't get your music to a massive audience at once," Paul added. "Everybody watches TV, and the advertisement gets every sort of person in one hit."

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2. Like A Rock - Chevrolet

When Chevy dropped “Like A Rock” in 2004, the new made headlines on and other car news outlets. The song was adapted to the Chevy truck image and 1991 and became the ultimate car commercial song long after the ads retired into the sunset.

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1. Eminem “Lose Yourself” for the Chrysler 200

Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” tops the list of car commercial songs after it made its debut at the 2011 Super Bowl. It was one of the few car commercials that attracted a fan base of its own, receiving tons of hits. It was a win for Chrysler that the company is still riding in its advertising campaigns with the first few bars of the track first made famous on the soundtrack to movie . deconstructed the landmarks that accompany the soundtrack and Eminem cameo.

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