7 Commercial Jingles Written by Famous Musicians

Art. It’s a tricky, precarious thing.

Videos by American Songwriter

On the one hand, can everything someone makes be considered a form of art? The artists on this list, from Justin Timberlake to Randy Newman, have all created masterful works of art in their lengthy, popular careers. But did you know that some of the world’s most catchy and long-lasting commercials have come from the pens of legends?

Here, we will dive into six such offerings. Six commercials you’ve heard on television and may not have known that they come from the minds of some of the best songwriters.

1. Justin Timberlake, McDonald’s

In 2003, McDonald’s needed a new tagline. So, they reached out to pop sensation Justin Timberlake to commission a new song. The resulting offering? “I’m Lovin’ It.” The former Boy Band member was paid some $6 million for his work. Today, the music video boasts some 17 million views on YouTube and it includes the tagline and the now-famous “Ba-da-ba-ba-ba” that has become synonymous with the burger brand.

2. John Tesh, The NBA on NBC

Every basketball fan of a certain age remembers the enlivening opening song for the NBA on NBC in the ’90s. Fans waiting to see Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, and Larry Johnson all heard the song “Roundball Rock,” created by composer John Tesh. There’s a famous YouTube video where Tesh, onstage, tells the story of the song. It came to him one day and he called his answering machine and sang it into the phone. The result? Magic.

3. Barry Manilow, State Farm

Barry Manilow is the king of commercial jingles. The songwriter wrote “Like a Good Neighbor” for State Farm, “Stuck on Band-Aid” for Band-Aid, “Give Your Face Something to Smile About” for Stridex, “Grab a Bucket of Chicken” for KFC, “You Deserve a Break Today” for McDonald’s and more. Check out the ad for State Farm below.

4. Randy Newman, Dr. Pepper

Dr. Pepper, a beverage that has been around since 1885, hired Randy Newman (of “You Got a Friend in Me” fame) to write the jingle “Most Original,” to promote its unique soda pop. The song was used for the company’s campaign of the same name. Below, check out an hour-long video from YouTube in which great songwriters like Doc Watson and Chuck Berry cover Newman’s pop (get it?) song.

5. Mark Foster, Muscle Milk

The “Pumped Up Kicks” singer, Mark Foster of Foster The People, wrote a jingle for the beverage brand Muscle Milk. He called the song “Spring Break It Down.” With bikinis and attitude, this song became a hit. So much so that Muscle Milk sold the company to Pepsi in 2019 for $465 million. Check out the song below from Foster.

6. The Rolling Stones, Rice Krispies

In 1964, the baddest rock band on the planet recorded a cereal commercial jingle. While the band didn’t actually write it (it was penned by ad executives), they recorded it and it went out into the world. If you were making a list ranking the most rock and roll jingles ever, this one would be near or at the top, for sure. Wake up in the morning there’s a snap around the place/ Wake up in the morning there’s a crackle in your face.

7. AC/DC, Hoover

On the same day Brian Johnson auditioned for the rock band AC/DC, he stopped over to record a commercial for Hoover vacuums. He apparently walked from one studio right to the next. He was hired (to replace Bon Scott, who had recently passed) and the commercial was a success, too. He reportedly was paid about $700 for the spot, plus residuals. Check out the commercial below.

Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Berklee

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