The commercial band
The Heavy—a British band that effortlessly weds funk, rock and soul—is the commercial band, or rather, a band that is always in commercials.
The House That Dirt Built (2009) is a good album. It’s an album’s album, built for a full listen. It’s not a straight-drive of an album. It winds. I found the band and bought the album after the single, “How Do You Like Me Now?” starred alongside a few stuffed animals in a 2010 Super Bowl commercial for Kia. The frolicking toys were memorable but the chorus of the song, playing over action sequences and car shots, was more arresting. So with the album in casual rotation for the last year or two, it was surprising to hear the same song in a new Miller Lite ad.
Looking further into the band’s “commercial” success, we find “How Do You Like Me Now?” has appeared on television shows such as Entourage, Community, Rookie Blue, White Collar and Outlaw, as well as in films The Fighter, The Change-Up and Horrible Bosses. It was used in some capacity in trailers and on the soundtracks of films This Means War, Limitless and the forthcoming Ted. It’s in a Major League Baseball video game. The Heavy has also had songs in Californication, True Blood and the video game Batman: Arkham City.
Why is a band without large commercial appeal in the States, the States’ commercial band?
It’s simple to see why “How Do You Like Me Now?” is attractive to advertisers. It’s quick and sharp. The band’s lack of mainstream acclaim may be attributed to its breadth of sound. The band has range. On one track, “Sixteen,” the singer croons over a sample of “I Put a Spell on You” about love, the devil and “black and white Jordan elevens.” “Short Change Hero” is more ominous. While “Stuck” opens with a guitar piece that could have been stolen from Beck’s (brilliant) Sea Change or an early Hootie and the Blowfish track. The Heavy is fun and original in the sense that most tracks have a unique identity. Most tracks, however, are less unique in that they sample old music. “How Do You Like Me Now?” gets its meat from “Let a Woman be a Woman” by Dyke & the Blazers.
It’s interesting that advertisers are recycling the music of an original band who happens to recycle sounds to create hits. I don’t know what it says about us or advertising other than we often appreciate the 30-second preview more than the long, winding road. The Heavy is all over, but the band is more than 30-seconds of romping stuffed animals and beer.
*Sources: Wikipedia and my ears.
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