my personal bias set causes a dissonance between the idea that corp execs actually know music that cool, much less that they would promote it. so recently, i came up with a different, more palatable theory. the theory is that the use of some of this music is actually sneakily subversive of the corporate condition. who really picks out the music that goes into tv commercials? or rather, who creates the pool of music to choose from? likely, it is some low-wage earning geek, who does this in addition to other, less dignified and enjoyable duties. it may even be one of the few bright points of this (these) person's job. why not offer songs that have not only a catchy sound, but also a built-in irony of purpose? why not make your own mark on american culture?
think i'm exaggerating? well, think about it for a minute. how many of you haven't, at one time or another, heard a song in a commercial and wondered what it is? some of us even go as far as looking it up, and then purchasing it (a great place to do this kind of lookup, btw, is AdCritic). So sometimes obscure (or certainly less than mainstream) artists get a bit more exposure. Music is, in itself, subversive. It's the ultimate subliminal advertising…particularly for those who just use it as pleasant background sound. to those of us who the music affects profoundly, this seems a waste…but really it's not. it's a way of getting specific thoughts and concepts across to those who might otherwise never encounter them(or if they encounter them, run screaming, so to speak). by the time people may realize what the music is actually about, they may well have already reached a certain comfort level with it…a familiarity, just from having listened to it less-than-consciously a few times. all good.
of course, i don't believe that all music used in commercials has some deeply profound message in it, or is a method of subversion. there are undoubtedly a huge variety of people providing information for the pool of music i imagine is made available to ad firms. i'm sure that many of them are as mainstream as the next drone, and choose music strictly on how it sounds, rather than based on any actual thought.
but for anyone out there who isdoing this kind of thing, applause is due you. keep up the good work! for anyone out there having certain & specific knowledge that this isn't true (and that it really is corporate co-option), please don't tell me. i'm working on this whole "creating my own reality" concept, and am not ready for my bubble to be burst just yet.