There’s so much Funkin’ music used in advertising. I was taken aback and thrilled recently to hear the classic Ohio Players (OP) track “Fire” as the theme music for the TV show “HELL’S KITCHEN.”  I’m surfing the tube one night and see a flash of Gordon Ramsey.  Having worked with him on “Kitchen Nightmares” for a season, I tuned in for a minute, not because I love the show – but thought I might catch him berating and humiliating one of the “talents” on it – horrible, but true ;-).  First there’s clips of what’s on tonight’s episode, maybe some commercials… all of a sudden sirens, I’m like “huh”? as I’m grabbing something to drink from the fridge.

I go back in the living room, and I see and hear “Fiiiire, (bum bum bum) Ugh, Fiiiiire, (bum bum bum),”  What’s this?  Funk slappin’ me in the face with shots of the cast looking cool with CGI fire all around them as the classic OP song provides a thumpin’ background!?!?!?!  WOW!!! “Holy Shit!” I exclaim, “I had no idea,” I say out loud, but I’m the only one home.  And yet again I’m presented with confirmation as to the validity of FUNK.

That’s not all, the next commercial for VISA is using “Slick Rick,” not the rapper.  In the new Visa spot, the classic jam Super Freak by Rick James is playing.  It acts as the glue for a series of characters trying to sing along with Visa cards.  Rick James (RIP) is the “King of Funk & Roll” that dropped other hits like Mary Jane, You and I and Fire & Desire, a duet with Teena Marie  MC Hammer used Super Freak for his 1990 hit U Can’t Touch This.  Rick wasn’t happy about Hammer’s choice to sample his song, until he heard how much money he was getting from the use of it.  Earth, Wind & Fire’s hit “Lets Groove” was used in a Target commercial during the holiday season last year.

Crazy, “Shining Star” was featured in the soundtrack for Austin Powers in “Goldmember,” and it was played during the end credits of “Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.”  The song is played in “Muppets from Space” when Gonzo encounters the cosmic fish and in the Bernie Mac movie “Mr. 3000.”  “Shining Star” is used in the video game “Karaoke Revolution” Volume 3.  “Shining Star” was the song played when Elaine Benes did the infamous “little kicks” on the Seinfeld episode “The Little Kicks” for the first time.  It was also played at the end of the movie “Meet Dave” starring Eddie Murphy.

EWF has been featured in commercials since the 80s. Here’s one for Panasonic:

As it goes in FUNK, it goes in Hip-Hop… KRS-One’s Steady Bounce in a spot for the JEEP Compass; Fergie of BEP fame has her Fergalicious track in an ad for Verizon; The Black Eyed Peas have been featured in commercials for Pepsi and Best Buy; Salt -N- Pepa’s Push It was in a NEXTEL commercial; Hummer used DMX in a spot; and lest not forget TI and Mary J. Blige being featured in TV campaigns for Chevrolet.

Yeeees as Hip-Hop has gone mainstream, so has FUNK.  Before Hip-Hop, and now ever prominent.  “This is a Man’s World” by “The Godfather of Soul” James Brown, was even featured in an ad for Reebok, before he passed in 2002.  In summation, FUNK is ever prevalent, ever growing and forever relevant – FUNK YOU if you don’t know the value of FUNK!

Peace & Love



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