Rock and rollers are usually renegades who see themselves as walking middle fingers in the face of The Man. But then alimony payments start adding up, and those Bentley’s don’t just pay for themselves. Sooner or later, “stars of a certain stature” cave and do a commercial or two. There are tons of reasons why it happens: from legal SNAFUs and bankruptcy, to just honest love of the product (maybe?). But when done poorly, the results can leave you screaming “Come ON, you’re better than that!” at the television screen. Check out 15 of the most heartbreaking commercial sell-outs of all time! Don’t worry, bands…we still love you.
15. “I Wanna Rock ’n’ Roll All Night” by KISS vs. Old Navy (2011)
The clothiers only got a snippet of the KISS anthem, but the damage was done. We can’t hear it anymore without thinking of a ’70s gameshow host playing air guitar.
14. “Lust For Life” by Iggy Pop vs. Royal Caribbean Cruises
Iggy Pop has been doing more than his fair share of ad work in recent years, including Crystler cars and Swiftcover insurance. But this one for Royal Caribbean is the most offensive. Maybe doing ads is the only way to stay shocking and (therefore) punk rock these days.
13.”Revolution” by The Beatles vs. Nike
This is pretty rough. Following the sale of the Beatles song catalog to Michael Jackson in the late 1980s, this became the first of their songs licensed for use in commercials. But apparently the Fabs themselves were not into the ad. In July 1987 the three surviving Beatles filed a lawsuit against both Nike and the advertising firm, but it was dismissed because John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono had signed off on the deal, saying that the commercial “is making John’s music accessible to a new generation.” The suit was settled out of court in 1989.
12. “Rock ’n’ Roll” by Led Zeppelin vs. Cadillac (2010)
The automakers originally offered the Doors a record-busting $15 million to use “Break On Through” as the soundtrack to this 2010 ad, but drummer John Densmore vetoed the deal, feeling that it violated the band’s artistic integrity. Led Zep, on the other hand, had no such qualms.
11. “The Art Of Self-Destruction” by Nine Inch Nails vs. Levi’s Jeans
Maybe Levis were trying to keep up with Wrangler’s ad with George Thorogood’s “Bad To The Bone.” But this 1996 ad overdid it just a smidge.
10. “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf vs. Diet Pepsi
This ad was meant as an homage to the 1969 counter-culture classic Easy Rider, making it doubly heart-breaking.
9. “Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones vs. Pepsi
Pepsi is brown and it’s sugary , but maybe someone should tell them that the track is referencing heroin.
8. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard vs. T-Mobile
Rock ’n’ roll in ads are bad enough, without hearing a rando badly sing his own rendition. Cringe-worthy in the extreme.
7. “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys vs. Sunkist
Brian Wilson’s 1966 “pocket symphony” cost a record-breaking $50,000 and his sanity. It went on to be used to sell a carbonated orange drink. We wonder what Kel Mitchell has to say about this.
6. “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Presley vs. Viagra
Get ready to have this mojo-shakin’ Elvis classic ruined for the rest of your natural life.
5. “Mercedes-Benz” by Janis Joplin vs. Mercedes-Benz
It looks like the car execs missed the point on Janis’ satirical take on materialism.
4. “Walk On The Wild Side” by Lou Reed vs. Honda Scooters
A two-fer! Ol’ Lou scores bonus points by also licencing this one out to HP. Nicely played!
3. “Venus In Furs” by The Velvet Underground vs. Dunlop Tires
More Lou Reed! “Tested For The Unexpected” was the tagline for this 1993 ad. They got that right with this incredibly unexpected use of the Velvets art-rock track.
2. “Pressure Drop” by The Clash vs. Nissan
“The only band that matters” really went rogue for this 2007 Nissan ad.
1. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson vs. Pepsi
OK, this one was actually pretty cool.
[Photo: Getty Images]