Sleigh Bells, "Riot Rhythm"
"Riot Rhythm" is one of the year's most unabashedly fun pop songs that you probably haven't heard yet. Unless you've caught this Honda ad, which extracts some of the best moments from this track and splashes them up against a spinning CR-Z, making it feel bigger and brasher than any hybrid ever had a right to be.
Bibio, "Lover's Carvings"
Amazon does its best Apple impression with this catchy Kindle commercial, which makes terrific use of a jubilant track from British folk-pop singer Bibio. E-reading never sounded so adorable.
Grizzly Bear, "Two Weeks"
Brooklyn's Grizzly Bear doesn't exactly bring the yuks on their albums, so it's a little bit surprising, and a little bit inspired, that Volkswagen picked this song for a Super Bowl spot. The tune is a great counterpoint to the humor of the big game, and this ad is only funnier and more oddly touching because of it.
Vampire Weekend, "Holiday"
We're torn on this one (see list below). Say what you will about Tommy Hilfiger's first branding spot in five years, but the retailer couldn't have picked a more zeitgeisty band (or apropos track) to score its return to the airwaves.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, "Janglin"
There was really no escaping Edward Sharpe's song "Home" in 2010, as it landed in not one but two cellphone commercials and again in an NFL ad. Because this ubiquity doesn't work so well with all these brands, we're going with this whimsical Ford ad, which is well shot and benefits from a great horn section and group vocals.
State Farm's nearly 40-year-old jingle got a much-needed Gen Y remake this year, courtesy of entertainment agency Translation and music house Duotone, with this 8-bit, Nintendo-fied remix of its classic "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there."
Black Keys, "Tighten Up"
The Black Keys put out a fantastic album this year called "Brothers" that is as sexy and energetic as anything they've ever produced, and Subaru and its agency were smart to pick up this track from it. The song piles on layers one piece at a time, and, by the time you discover where it's headed, you realize that the ad is just about a guy who really loves to rip his car through puddles. Sometimes that's all you need.
Temper Trap, "Sweet Disposition"
First introduced to mainstream audiences last year courtesy of trailers for "500 Days of Summer," this Temper Trap track became the go-to song for hipster branding via this series of city-fied Diet Coke ads.
Black Sheep, "The Choice Is Yours"
Why hoodie-wearing hamsters driving household appliances? And why this 20-year-old hip-hop track? We don't know how this picture came together, but we're glad it did. This viral hit from David & Goliath has notched a few million views and informed lots of folks who missed Black Sheep the first go around. We keep watching it, hoping to understand its logic, but all we know is that this track still kills.
David Banner, "Evolve"
Gatorade has evolved, and so has the art of jingle creation. The sports drink tapped hip-hop producer David Banner to write an original Americana track inspired by the brand's evolution, and enlisted Blackstreet vocalist Kermit Quinn to do his best Bo Diddley impression.