Brand endorsement is an eternally tricky thing and can easily segue into crass commercialism if not presented thoughtfully. That’s what these musicians must have struggled with when the sponsors came calling for their pound of flesh — but then again, a large paycheck is a seductive thing on its own. Here are ten stars who sang about soda, cereal, and more with dollar signs in their eyes — most of whom we never expected to see belting one out for the ad man.
After the success of Gary Numan’s band Tubeway Army and chart-topping hits like “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” company 7-UP looked to the English synth maestro for an ad jingle — which writer Geeta Dayal tipped us off to. He was offered $16,000 in 1982 for three songs. At that time, Numan was living as a tax exile in America. Reportedly the company was expecting something punk, but instead got Numan’s distinct vocal style and a lot of synth. The recordings were never used, but have been preserved for our amusement. We suppose it’s not too far a stretch for a guy who chose his stage name from the Yellow Pages.
Riding through the galaxy, all Marc Bolan wants to do is drink Pepsi. You can hear this glam-tastic jingle on the Marc Bolan & T Rex outtakes and demos release, Interstellar Soul.
The Ministry frontman’s fake British accent, circa With Sympathy, is in full effect for this 1983 Shasta ditty.
Sunkist paid New Order to bastardize their hit “Blue Monday” for a TV commercial, which even uses the group’s video for “Touched by the Hand of God” as the backdrop (directed by none other than Kathryn Bigelow). The cinematic vid parodies hair bands of the 1980s, adding another layer of weirdness to the Sunkist ad. “How does it feel/When a new day has begun/When you’re drinking in the sunshine/Sunkist is the one,” the lyrics tell us. Our souls just died a little.
Ok, we’re cheating a little bit with this one, because there seems to be no confirmation that Debbie Harry actually sang this jingle for Sara Lee, even though it sounds like it could very well be her. No one else could make enriched bleached flour sexy except for Harry, who unsheathes a loaf of French bread like she wants to take it to bed and treat it badly. Cue hilarious Videodrome-esque close-ups of her eyes and lips as she coos about how hot it is. Blink and you’ll miss the song near the end.
She did, however, sing one for Murjani Jeans in 1980.
Snider donned Twisted Sister-era makeup for carpet cleaning company Stanley Steemer. It’s hard to say who was more desperate here.
The catchy choruses of The Monkees were put to use by the band’s chief sponsors behind their 1960’s television series. Early commercials for Kellogg’s cereals and Yardley Cosmetics of London featured the band — and then came this tune for Kool-Aid when the show swapped networks and sponsors. There’s something appropriate and slightly eerie about the psychedelic pop band singing about the ghastly sugar water during the Jim Jones era.
This one first came to our attention thanks to Incredible Sestina Anthology editor Daniel Nester. One can never have enough eyeliner or too many pairs of leather pants when consuming pork products at Pat’s Chili Dogs.
LL Cool J
Ladies love Cool James, but the Gap had the performer all to themselves for this freestyle rap shilling their denim in 1999.
We’ve mentioned this one before, but it bears repeating. Is the Cornflake Girl really signing this Kellogg’s jam? It’s hard to say, but her piano hysterics were fierce even then.