Some may think an artist’s song being featured in a commercial is a death sentence, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Sometimes, it can give unknown artists mainstream listeners or remind us of bops we once loved.
It’s not selling out to get paid well for your hard work.
I argue that the music heard in back-to-school ads deserves some respect. Thus, I have taken it upon myself to rank some of the songs I’ve heard while watching back-to-school ads on TV.
I have no actual musical reasoning for my ranking, but it is instead based purely on my opinion of the song used and how it plays into the commercial.
5. “Here We Go” by WILD
Walmart features WILD’s “Here We Go” in their back-to-school commercial. I know I’m really contradicting myself here since I just said it shouldn't be a bad thing for a song to be used in a commercial, but it was bad in this instance.
The commercial's use of it makes the song seem utterly unremarkable. The song could have been replaced with any folksy, indie, royalty free music and I would have not noticed a difference. This is not to knock the group themselves, because I have not listened to anything else by them.
4. “We Back” by I Am ORFA FEAT. Bodytalkr
The Macy’s ad, which shows students literally covered in dust dusting themselves off, includes I Am ORFA’s “We Back.” I didn’t know this song before writing this column, but it is upbeat and fun, though it does lack lyrical prowess. The main reason this didn’t rank higher is because I normally don’t listen to this music genre.
3. “Nothing Like This” by Allister X
Students dance by their lockers and in a science lab to Allister X’s “Nothing Like This” in the fall 2021 Old Navy commercial. The song, released July 9 of this year, is one I’ve probably heard only once or twice on a random playlist. I have to appreciate when commercials don’t use songs that have been way overplayed, so that was refreshing here.
Allister X posted on Instagram Aug. 9 that the song is number six on the Shazam dance charts, which could possibly be linked to its use in the ad. Even though the song is new, the artist has a few more singles I will probably check out.
2. “This Will Be Our Year” by The Zombies
This ‘60s throwback is used in the Kohl’s back-to-school ad and sits at number two for a couple reasons. One, The Zombies are an iconic group and seeing the song in this commercial shows they’ve stood the test of time. Two, it is a witty song title, “This Will Be Our Year,” for a back-to-school ad campaign.
In the commercial, the dad cranks “This Will Be Our Year” on the radio. He starts singing along after dropping off his kid at school, only to be interrupted by the kid coming back to the car just to tell his dad to have a good day ... and it’s really cute. For me, this song was a classic as opposed to a newer hit.
1.”Perm” by Bruno Mars
I have to put this Target commercial, featuring Bruno Mars’ “Perm” at number one, because this song sparked my idea for the whole column. “24K Magic,” the album that the song is on, came out in 2016 — I was a huge Bruno Mars fan at the time, and even went to a concert for this tour.
When the Target ad came on while I was watching TV, the song transported me back to 2016, and I couldn’t help but sing along with the catchy tune. Thanks to Target, “Perm” and the rest of the album “24K Magic” have made it back on my Spotify rotation.