Jingle Jangles – Pop Songs in Commercials 6

Actually what I’m getting ready to talk about are not actually jingles since they are not created specifically for television.  Rather I’m talking about pop songs used in two commercials currently in rotation.

I like the current Swiffer advertising campaign.  The image of dust mops/brooms being rejected and using lyrics like “Baby Come Back” or “Don’t You Want Me Baby”  to woo back their former users is clever. (Although I don’t use Swifter because it’s disposable and that doesn’t jibe with my environmental concerns). 

However, I find the new Hoover commercial really upsetting, It uses the original Etta James version of “At Last.”  This is far too romantic a song to pitch a vacuum cleaner! The opening refrain of the song with the violins,is so recognizable that I run to the screen whenever I hear it.  Imagine my chagrin when I realized it was being used in a commercial for a vacuum cleaner. 

At Last is a song that will be forever associated in my mind to the powerfully romantic image of President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama dancing at the first ball on Inaugural night, while Beyoncé crooned to them.  As far as I’m concerned the song can now be retired from commercial use except at private parties where those of us who are romantically inclined can dance to it with our very own mates.

Here are the lyrics in case you haven’t heard them.

At Last
(Lyrics  by Mack Gordon & Harry Warren)

At last, my love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song
Oh, yeah, at last
The skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clovers
The night I looked at you
I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to rest my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known
Oh, yeah when you smile, you smile
Oh, and then the spell was cast
And here we are in heaven
For you are mine
At last

Over the years, there’s been plenty of controversy about pop lyrics being used to sell commercial products.  Songwriters want to and should be paid,  However, using At Last to sell Hoover vacuum cleaners just ain’t right. It’s damn near blasphemy because both the Etta James and Beyonce versions of the song are divine in my humble opinion.

What songs have been  used in commercials and made you cringe?

Am I just being sentimental, foolish and sensitive? 

(Quick  facts:  The song was originally written in 1941 for the film Sun Valley Serenade. Etta James recorded it in 1961 shortly after signing with Chess Records.  It was a hit! A whole lot of other people, including Glenn Miller and his orchestra, Gladys Knight and Cyndi Lauper have recorded versions of it.  For more info, check out Song Facts.  .Despite Etta James’ tirade about Beyoncé being selected to sing it for the inauguration, there’s a video of a lovely tribute by Beyoncé to Ms. James at the Fashion Rocks awards show. You can find it on Youtube.)


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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6 thoughts on “Jingle Jangles – Pop Songs in Commercials

  • Jim

    Next time you hear it on the tube, just close your eyes and enjoy. The picture in your head is worth a thousand pictures on the tube. Better yet, turn it off and put on the real thing. I’ve never heard the Beyoncé version. In fact, I’m going to put Etta on right now.

  • LeeAnn WIlmot

    You know – you could write a regular music column. I love it when you discuss these things – I do! And! I always reminds me to pull out some of that music I’ve neglected but I so love. Thanks! I’m going to get Etta too right now!

  • Rick Umali

    I’ll have to look out for that Swiffer commercial. I have mixed feelings on this stuff. On the one hand, I don’t like artistic music to be used for “commerce”, but on the other hand there’s an artist behind the music getting paid. But then when songs from Led Zeppelin began appearing in commercials, my first thought was “sell out!” I don’t think you’re overly sensitive about this. I think it takes a certain insight and musical knowledge just to have an opinion on this!