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The Five Most Hilariously Offensive Misuses of Classic Songs For Commercial Purposes

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Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 9:04 AM

click to enlarge marleys.jpg

We were so excited when we saw the wooden box on our desk with the words "Bob Marley" branded into the top. A CD box set? Possibly--if we are very very lucky--a box set of 7"s? With little booklets that have liner notes full of interesting and amazing facts about one of the word's seminal performers of reggae music?

No. It was none of those things. It was a box full of Bob Marley energy drinks relaxation drinks. They are called Mellow Mood, after a song that appeared on the B-side of the 1966 song "Bend Down Low". Often hailed as one of Marley's first masterpieces, it is now the name of a concoction consisting of valerian and corn syrup and some other herbs whose effectiveness has not been evaluated by the FDA.

This is not the first time a legendary song, band, or musician has been used in bad taste to hock cheap wares or advance corporate interests, and it probably won't be the last. What follows is a list of five other horrific examples thereof.

Artist: Bob Dylan

Song: Forever Young

Product: Pepsi

The iconic folk-singer who wrote countless protest songs and has been a major figure of American music for over five decades appeared in 2009 with Will.i.am to perform Forever Young in an effort to advertise Pepsi Cola products to Super Bowl fans. You know, Pepsi? The $43 billion dollar snack food and beverage multinational corporation currently developing special products to give sell to malnourished and starving people in the global south.

The Guardian seemed somewhat disgusted when it wrote:

The advertisement, entitled Refresh Anthem, will likely air during this Sunday's Superbowl game. These commercials cost £2m for every 30 seconds and Pepsi are reportedly considering three or four different spots for the game. Only one of these spots features the man who wrote Blowin' In the Wind and the man who co-wrote My Humps.

The commercial features a "mash up" of Bob Dylan's Forever Young and Will.I.Am's doubtless poignant interpretation. Will.I.Am will perform over a "visual collage of iconic images celebrating generations past and present", Pepsi said in a statement. They may show footage, for instance, of Bob Dylan drinking Pepsi. Or Will.I.Am drinking Pepsi. And if they are lucky, of Barack Obama drinking Pepsi.

Artist: Janis Joplin

Song: Mercedes Benz

Product: Mercedes Benz

Janis Joplin, blues singer, rock'n'roller, and rebel, recorded this a capella tongue-and-cheek song as the B-side to "Cry Baby" and it is considered one of her best and best known tracks . The song showed off her vocal skills, and the lyrics ridiculed consumerism while also acknowledging the degree to which she was unwillingly ensnared in its clutches. A song of "great social and political import", in her own words, that left the listener wondering if she was or wasn't just a teeny bit serious. The ad features a fleet of Mercedes escaping their garages and heading for a dealership warehouse, or something that looks sort of like a dealership warehouse while playing "Mercedes Benz" on the radio. The ad ends with P.Diddy looking for his silver Mercedes. Ha! Ha! Ha! Get it??? This ad also aired during the Super Bowl.

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