What's That Song? Commercial Edition: The story behind the new Target ad

We’ll be looking at a host of new ad songs in next week’s print issue, but as our spelunking sent us far (Uraguay!) and wide (Swedish songstress Miss Li: a friend to Volvos and Nanos alike), it also got us an unexpected backstory, via this high-rotation Target ad:

That song: “Birds are sending down a message / flower blossoms overhead”… Dug up from the archives of some shoe-gazey, nature-whispering Brit-pop act, decades and continents away? Oh contraire, commercial-music friend. The track—or more accurately, stand-alone 30-second snippet—was made to order for Target by a Minneapolis production house, Modern Music.

We called MM’s headquarters in Minnesota to find out more, and learned that this isn’t the first time that one of their made-for-TV jingles spurred a raft of Yahoo! Answers queries. Their jazzy recast of The Sound of Music classic “16 Going On 17″ for a State Farm ad (streamable here) apparently inspired enough demand to instigate a full-length free download of the song on State Farm’s betterteendriving.com.

As for the still-untitled Liberty of London track, composed in-house by MM employees John Hermanson and Eric Fawcett, creative director Daron Walker tells EW, “We gathered a bunch of music we thought was interesting just for reference, and the first thing we did for it was this kind of glitchy slower disco, but it was just too trippy with the visuals. And then Eric, who’s British, was like, ‘It should be more British!’ We’re working on [recording] a full-length version, but we don’t actually own the song, Target does.”

Your turn, readers: Have other recent ads sent you hunting on iTunes, to no avail? What are your current commercial-to-playlist favorites? Tell us in the comments section below.

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
The Diet Coke Oscars ad, and the song that won’t die
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony: Eyewitness report
The Lonely Island and Julian Casablancas’ “Boombox” comes to SNL (finally!)
The Specials: Terry Hall and Lynval Golding on the ska-rock legends’ reunion shows—and why their absent keyboard player is a ‘Scrooge’
Adam Lambert ‘Unplugged’: Watch his VH1 performances here
Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’ video

Comments (8 total) Add your comment
  • **

    I am actually glad that they are writing songs just for commercials now. Nothing more frustrating than having bandwagon people suddenly latch onto a band you have long-loved just because of an ad.

    My question now becomes is the voiceover actually British? I am thinking no.

  • Al


  • KRibbons

    Geico had that commercial with a cover of “Somebody’s Watching Me” and I could NOT find it on iTunes. I finally had to get it off LimeWire. I feel like I find 30% of my music just from commercials.

  • Geo

    I would say I find a good 90% of new music from the TV. Between catchy Ad tunes and certain shows which incorporate new music into their episodes I am finding all kinds of good stuff out there. Heck, it beats listening to the same 10 songs over and over again on the radio!

  • Nick T

    That darn song from a Walmart commercial with the changing bedroom and the singer is all like “Monday, Tuesday, blah blah blah…” I searched forever and I still don’t know her name. Darn it!!

  • monique

    there are twon ad-songs i’m looking for: reeeses peanut cups has one that sounds like the flamin’groovies/big star/the byrds. and dell xsp box or whatever it is, this p0p-punk thing that goes”what you do to me/what you want from me”. any ideas?

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  • Patty Salter

    I need to know the Dodge Ram truck commercial song! It’s a bit blues-like sung by a woman and great a string instrument; a cello maybe? Please help me find this beautiful song!

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