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The Resonance of Song

Frank Sinatra once said that a song is poetry set to music. This statement has never been truer since Bob Dylan received the ‘Nobel Prize For Literature’.

A song can drive a narrative, ad context and thought provoking truths about aspects of life and our society, create an emotive ambience, and provide humour and pathos with evocative resonance.

Obviously it’s the audio component of audio-visual advertising that sets it apart from other mediums to make it the most powerful communication medium in the world. Music and songs should therefore, be very carefully considered and never be a casual afterthought.

Daniel Kuypers, Director of Music at BBDO emphasizes this point: “If you anticipate music being a driver in the commercial, give it the respect it is due. That includes dedicating the time and effort required in finding and crafting the right music”.

1. Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, The Parting Glass

Advertising Agency: Opperman Weiss, New York.

Directed by Laurence Dunmore, the narrative is driven by the beautiful lyrics of a haunting Irish song that underscores this superbly crafted commercial that is an evocative joy to watch and is definitely in a league of it’s own.

The Irish have a unique, philosophical, whimsical and stoically pragmatic approach to life that has sustained them through a long history of hardship.

Expressions of the indomitable ‘True Irish Spirit’ are abundant in Irish songs that are admired by so many.

Here are the ‘Parting Glass’ lyrics.

Oh all the money that e’er I spent I spent it in good company
And all the harm that e’er I’ve done 
Alas, it was to none but me
And all I’ve done for want of wit
 To memory now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
 Good night and joy be with you all
Oh all the comrades that e’er I’ve had 
Are sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e’er I’ve had
 Would wish me one more day
to stay
 To memory now I can’t recall
 So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all
 Good night and joy be with you all

2. Rekorderlig Swedish Premium Cider, Silver Skaters

Advertising Agency; Saatchi & Saatchi, London

Saatchi & Saatchi engaged Swedish Director Andreas Nilsson to film a commercial that would be quintessentially Swedish in character.

Jon Henrik’s Swedish folk track ‘Reindeer Herder was chosen for the soundtrack for its mystical resonance and it is central to the unique mood and atmospheric tone of the commercial.

His composition is based on the ancient and haunting ‘kulning’ herding call which is also a song.

Set on the frozen Torneträsk lake in Lapland, Sweden, the story centres on two skating brothers Henrik and Anders and their coach/singer Jarmo.

Their quirky routine is complex, but with all three men working together in sync, they create a sequence that seems effortless and ‘beautifully Swedish’.

The commercial won a D&AD Award for Film Advertising Crafts / Use of Music for Film Advertising.

3. Volvo Trucks, The Epic Split

Advertising Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors, Sweden

The ‘Epic Split’ commercial for the launch of Volvo Truck’s new dynamic steering system took the Internet by storm.

The resonant soundtrack of Enja’s ‘Only Time Will Tell’, adds an evocative and emotive aspect to a truck commercial that is unexpected and very effective.

Directed by Andreas Nilsson, the film stars Belgian martial-arts expert and actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, performing a live-test demonstration that received worldwide acclaim and motivated 86 million views on YouTube.

Many communication industry awards followed that included a Black Pencil from D&AD, Best of Show at The One Show, a Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Cyber and Film, and a second Cannes Lion Grand Prix for Creative Effectiveness.

The lyrics of Enja’s ‘Only Time Will Tell.

Who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows, only time
And who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose, only time

Who can say why your heart sighs
As your love flies, only time
And who can say why your heart cries
When your love lies, only time

Who can say when the roads meet
That love might be in your heart
And who can say when the day sleeps
If the night keeps all your heart
Night keeps all your heart

Who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose
Only time
And who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows, only time

Who knows? Only time

4. Wrigley’s Extra Gum, The Story of Sarah and Juan

Advertising Agency: Energy BBDO

The soundtrack features a stirring new rendition of Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ sung by Haley Reinhart.

The commercial won a Gold Clio Award for use of music in a short film, and a released single of the soundtrack went to Gold in 2017.

Directed by Pete Riski, this engaging love story is still being watched three years after it was released on YouTube and has surpassed the 22 million, last recorded view-mark. Many viewers claim to have watched the commercial several times and each time it brought tears to their eyes.

Here are the lyrics of ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love”.

Wise men say, only fools rush in
But I can’t help falling in love with you
Oh shall I stay?
Would it be a sin?
Oh if I can’t help falling in love with you
Oh, like a river flows, surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Oh, take my hand
Take my whole life, too
For I can’t help falling in love with you
Oh, for I can’t help falling in love with you

5. Haley Reinhart, Can’t Help Falling In Love

The video of Haley recording the soundtrack for Wrigley’s ‘Story of Sarah and Juan’ was a great treat for her fans and widely shared.

6. Adidas, Original Is Never Finished

Advertising Agency: Johannes Leonardo, New York

Creative Director Wes Phelan insightfully noted that the past empowers the future. “We wanted the film to reflect the rich past of all creative spheres: music, art, film and sport.

Starting with the music, we intentionally chose a track that had been done multiple times before to prove our point, that original is never finished.”

“The song provides the narrative thread that connects the different role players and the motivation of their creative drive.”

The commercial was filmed in various locations throughout Europe and Africa by South African film director Terence Neale. The image disruptions and definition fluctuations are intentional and part of the desired ‘actuality’ look and feel he wanted to create.

‘Original Is Never Finished’ was one of YouTube’s 10 most watched commercials of 2017 having reached a staggering 25.4 million views.

The mix of contemporary creative talents featured are: Snoop Dogg, hip-hop artist Stormzy, basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and artist Petra Collins’ re-imagining of Boticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’; all set to the re-worked sounds of Frank Sinatra’s classic tune ‘My Way’.

‘My Way’ was especially written and composed by Billy Joel for Frank Sinatra. It was a huge global hit and today it is still sung in carioca bars across the globe. Here’s an extract of the lyrics that probably many of us already know by heart.

I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way

7. Cadbury Chocolate, Irrepressible Joy Triplets

Advertising Agency: Ogilvy, Johannesburg, South Africa

Directed by Adrian De Sa Garces, with special effects by studio Glassworks UK, I find the pivotal soundtrack exceptionally emotive.

The soundtrack was arranged and produced by Alun Richards. A widely acclaimed, special edition of the beautiful song ‘Joy’ was recorded for the commercial by the South African acapella group ‘The Soil’.

8. Melbourne Metro Rail, Dumb Ways To Die

Advertising Agency: McCann, Melbourne

The soundtrack of the most awarded campaign ever, in the history of the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, is tops of my list for its originality and resonance.

‘Dumb Ways To Die’, an animated, public safety commercial for Melbourne’s Metro Rail, won a record breaking 5 Grand Prix awards, 18 Gold Lions, 3 Silvers and 2 Bronzes.

When the commercial was released online, It notched up over 50 million views in a little over a week.

The song, written by John Mescall, was composed and performed by the Cat Empire and Tinpan Orange bands of Australia.

It hit music charts in 28 countries and rocketed to the top 10 on Apple’s Australian iTunes charts within 24 hours of its release.

9. Pepsi, Gladiators

Advertising Agency: BBDO Paris

Launched during the live broadcast of the American Super Bowl football championships of 2004, the epic Gladiator spoof hit the right note and took a 100 million plus TV viewers by storm.

Britany Spears, Pink and Beyoncé, turned Queen’s, Grammy Hall of Fame hit song ‘We Will Rock You’, into an unforgettable anthem of girl power.

Directed by Tarsem Singh and filmed at the Coliseum in Rome, the commercial also amusingly stars Enrique Iglesias as a villainous Roman Emperor.

Pepsi ‘We Will Rock You’ Lyrics by Queen guitarist Brian May:

We will, we will…Rock You!
We will, we will rock you!

Buddy, you’re a boy
Make a big noise
Playin’ in the street
You’re gonna be a big man someday
You got blood on your face
Big disgrace
Kickin’ your can all over the place

We will, we will rock you!
Uh! I said:
We will, we will rock you!
Oh, yeah!

Buddy, you’re a young man
Hollerin’, fightin’, in the streets
Gonna take on the world someday
Blood on your face Big disgrace
Wavin’ your banner all over the place, yeah!

We will, we will rock you!
We will rock you! Yeah… oh!
We will, we will rock you!
Oh, yeah!

Buddy you’re an old man poor man
Pleadin’ with your eyes gonna make you some peace some day
You got mud on your face
Big disgrace
Somebady better put you back into your place, yeah, yeah, yeah!

We will, we will rock you!
We gonna, we gonna!
I said:
We will, we will rock you!
We will rock you, uh-huh
Sing it, come on!
We will, we will rock you!
Whoa, oh
Yeah, yeah
We will, we will rock you!
We will rock you!