The Best Super Bowl Commercials by the Music


The Darkness saved Samsung's ad from spiraling down into forgettable territory.
  • The Darkness saved Samsung's ad from spiraling down into forgettable territory.

Let's be blunt. This year's Super Bowl was dismal for Midwesterners.

Sure, there were exceptions. Transplants from Boston, New York City or New Jersey may have enjoyed the game. Some may have had a rooting interest in Chad Ochocinco's David Carr's quest for a pity Super Bowl ring. And who knows? Maybe some people just watched to see the artist who made this video dress up in a cheerleader uniform and flick off America.

In any case, this year's slate of commercials attempted to fill a void. And like every year, many of the ads incorporated popular music to snag the attention of the masses.

Which spots succeeded? And which fell flatter than Rex Grossman's performance in Super Bowl XLI? Here's an unscientific take on some of Sunday's most memorable advertisements:

BEST AD TOUGHENING UP A MID-SIZE CAR: Kia's "A Dream Car. For Life." Kia Optimas don't exactly conger up a particularly tough image -- it's basically in the same realm as a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry. But what happens when the car is paired up with Motley Crue's "Kickstart My Heart" and UFC legend Chuck Liddell? Well, it makes the car seem a lot more intimidating!

Motley Crue is one of the more popular touring bands around these days, so it was probably a smart move to get them involved. Interestingly, "Kickstart My Heart" is mainly about how somebody stabbed Nikki Sixx in the chest with adrenaline needles after a nasty heroin overdose.

BEST USE OF NELLY: Pepsi's "King's Court" St. Louis residents, take heart: The University City rapper's "Hot in Herre" was sung for just a few seconds by a tone deaf jester before Sir Elton John sent him into a dungeon with Flava Flav.

There were no other uses of Nelly in Super Bowl commercials, so this ad achieved this designation by default. As former state Rep. Don Calloway -- who now works for Anheuser Busch -- pointed out, the ad looks eerily similar to the video for Michael Jackson's "Remember the Time." Also, who would actually be imprisoned to drink regular Pepsi? That stuff is gross.

BEST USE OF KANYE: Bud Light Platinum's "Factory" While Bud Light utilized comedy to attract attention and Budweiser tapped into Prohibition-era nostalgia, A-B's newest product - Bud Light Platinum - used one of the better songs from Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as background music. The sparse piano from "Runaway" seemed to be a particularly poignant choice to go along with this no-frills, all-business spot.

There was actual competition for this ad, as The Throne's "No Church in the Wild" played during a trailer for the film Safe House.

BEST USE OF NUDITY: M&M's "Just My Shell" Those rascally anamorphic candies kind of took things to another level Sunday. While other companies used nudity to [unsuccessfully] grab attention, this spot played around with the concept to some degrees of success. It certainly got more plaudits than the billionth GoDaddy commercial or H&M's ad starring a nearly-nude David Beckham.

Also it's a safe bet that LMFAO -- a group that was featured in a Bud Light commercial and the halftime show -- will be utilized in Super Bowl commercials until the end of time. Those bros are commercial masterminds. MOST BIZARRE MUSICAL CONCOCTION: Budweiser's "Eternal Optimism" The second Budweiser ad commemorating the end of Prohibition mashed up Taio Cruz and Flo Rida's "Hungover" and The Cult's "She Sells Sanctuary." Now, hip-hop has utilized a lot of rock music in strange ways, but this is definitely up there.

ROCKIEST AD: Hyundai's "All for One" It's a tall order to provide an American tint to a Korean car, especially when Clint Eastwood is out there hawking Chryslers. But Hyundai gave it the old college try with a a capella rendition of "Gonna Fly Now," which of course was the theme song from Rocky.

Despite the obvious political contradictions, "Halftime in America" was probably more effective in its patriotic fervor than this ad. The combination of Rocky and Hyundais seems like an ill-suited match.

BEST USE OF A DOG: Volkswagen's "The Dog Strikes Back" Talk about a category with stiff competition. Nearly every company plunking down millions for a 30-second spot utilized a canine in some form or fashion. But some were clearly better than others, such as Volkswagen's pseudo-sequel to last year's "Star Wars Kid" ad.

Besides the surprising ending, this ad went up a few notches by smartly using James Brown's "Get Up Offa That Thing" as the soundtrack. Any ad that uses the Godfather of Soul correctly gets bonus points.

BEST USE OF NOSTALGIA: Honda's "Matthew's Day Off" There probably aren't that many people who actually remember when Prohibition ended, since it occurred nearly 80 years ago. But when Honda reached into the not-so-distant past to recreate Ferris Bueller's Day Off, it probably connected with a lot more people.

Adding in Yello's "Oh Yeah" - which played throughout the 1986 film - was a nice touch

MOST SURPRISING MUSICAL SELECTION: Audi's "Vampire Party" It was not particularly surprising to hear the music from the very ubiquitous LMFAO in a Super Bowl ad. On the other hand, this writer's eyebrows definitely rose a little bit when "The Killing Moon" by Echo & the Bunnymen played during this vampire-tastic Audi spot. That's not exactly "Party Rock Anthem" when it comes to marketability, but it fit with the moody theme.

If people didn't have to rob a bank to procure the actual product, it could be argued that Audi had the most effective ad of the night.

BEST COMMERCIAL OVERALL: Samsung "Thing Called Love" The Darkness' "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" may be a standard choice in karaoke bars, but it's dissipated from mainstream culture since its 2003 release. But thanks to Samsung, the song came roaring back in this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink ad for the company's mobile phone line.

This is an ad that features a marching band, skateboard tricks and freaking Brian Urlacher. But what most people will remember is how it may have taken t he Darkness out of the proverbial memory hole and back into the musical marketplace. Well done, Samsung.

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