The original idea was for companies like Mitsubishi and the Gap to use artists like Groove Armada and Badly Drawn Boy to sell cars and clothes. But in the end, it may be that Groove Armada and Badly Drawn Boy were simply using cars and clothes to sell their music.
Exhibit A: As Seen on TV: Songs From Commercials, due June 5 from the people behind the chart-topping Now That's I What Call Music compilations. As Seen on TV includes some of the more memorable TV ad songs of recent months, from late singer/songwriter Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" featured in a much-remarked-upon Volkswagen ad to Badly Drawn Boy's equally delicate "The Shining," which the Gap used in a winter-themed ad.
The 20-song album also includes Trio's new-wave nugget "Da Da Da I Don't Love You You Don't Love Me Aha Aha Aha," used in a Volkswagen ad, the Propellerheads and Shirley Bassey's "History Repeating," used in a Jaguar ad, and Groove Armada's "I See You Baby," used in a Mitsubishi commercial.
Fittingly, As Seen on TV's makers plan to promote the TV-commercial comp with TV spots of its own.
Adam Starr, the UTV Records product manager who dreamed up As Seen on TV, said he hopes the compilation will give more exposure to acts like Drake and Badly Drawn Boy, whose sales hardly match their critical acclaim.
"When the Nick Drake commercial first happened, people were half disgusted by it and half, like, 'Great, he's getting attention.' And that's kind of the gist of what this is about," Starr said Tuesday (May 22).
Other tracks on the album, which UTV A&R Vice President Jeff Moskow described as "either cool or kitschy," include Handsome Boy Modeling School's "Rock n' Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This)," the Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds," the Buzzcocks' "What Do I Get?" and, of course, Styx's "Mr. Roboto." UTV isn't the first company to see potential profit in the boom of hip commercial soundtracks Volkswagen itself recently released the collection Street Mix Music From VW Commercials Volume 1, which includes the same Trio, Drake and Styx tracks (see "Volkswagen Rolls Out Mix CD With Styx, Trio, Other Commercial Hits").