By DYLAN BROWN
of Inland 360
But, man, was that iPod ad catchy.
Selling out in the most blatant way has catapulted what has become the unstoppable catchall for the music that fits somewhere between deserved obscurity and pop culture dreck — the indefinable genre of “indie” — into the living rooms of millions. An appearance on a 30-second spot as beautiful 20-somethings frolic on idyllic beaches has transformed the careers of many indie musicians as a brainwashed person immediately Googles the song they just heard before the eighth Geico ad in a row. And I found them.
Yael Naim: “New Soul”
Apple is at the forefront of indie advertising, simultaneously becoming ubiquitous and remaining cool — remember the silhouettes dancing to Jet or the Black Eyed Peas? Naim, an obscure French-Israeli singer-songwriter caught the Apple wave with her song on a 2008 ad for the MacBook Air and rode it into Billboard’s Top 10.
The iPod’s gradual shrink from brick to Saltine was in Nano phase in 2005 when Apple picked the perfect little song to go with the little screen you never watched another video on again because of the eye strain. After the ad debuted, Feist’s record sales skyrocketed and the song helped win her fame, fortune and a Canadian Grammy.
Santigold: “Disparate Youth”
Not to be left out, car companies started realizing less macho people wanted something besides a truck — let the hipster marketing begin. Honda handpicked Santigold’s track about “uncompromising young people” to go with their “Things Can Always Be Better” spot for the new line of Civics.
Arcade Fire: “Wake Up”
The Super Bowl is the grand pooh-bah of television ad space and Arcade Fire — the band that won the Grammy for Best Album despite no one on Twitter knowing who they were — conquered the world once again with their soundtrack to the NFL’s own ads. To cap it off, they donated the proceeds to Haitian earthquake relief.
Jose Gonzalez: “Heartbeats”
Sony wandered from the “look these people are happier than you” formula and harnessed the singer-songwriter’s beautifully tragic acoustic track to sell their new flat-screen TV. Millions of bouncy balls careening around San Francisco? Beautiful. Having to share Gonzalez with the world? Tragic.
Brown is a deejay for the University of Idaho student radio station, KUOI 89.3 FM. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2278. Follow him on Twitter @DylanBrown26.