The Secrets Behind Subway's Brain-Burrowing Jingle

Tonefarm Composer Reveals Why The 'Five Dollar' Song Is So Arresting

By Published on .

You probably heard it while you were chopping carrots or clipping your fingernails, and it probably made you drop your curlers to see what the heck it was. Maybe you were disappointed that it was just a Subway commercial advertising $5 foot-long subs or maybe you were impressed that the jingle was so entrancing or maybe you just wished that you had put a towel on before you startled your in-laws sitting on the couch.

Either way, the song, created by production house Tonefarmer, is stupidly amazing and proves the power of a song to get across mundane messages beautifully. Slate tracked down the composer, Jimmy Harned, to pick his brains on the piece that's so hard to ignore:
"The chord structure does imply something dark," [Harned] agreed, getting out his guitar to demonstrate over the phone. "On the word long, it goes down from a C to an A-flat," he said, strumming, "which is kind of a weird place. It's definitely not a poppy, happy place. It's more of a metaly [sic] place. But at the same time, the singing stays almost saccharine."
The odd chord changes -- the A-flat isn't in the C-major scale -- remind us of Jefferson Airplane or psychedelic indie bands like Olivia Tremor Control, but, more importantly, they remind us that there's still talented people creating art in the name of sandwiches and donuts and casual family dining.

But let's not get carried away with ourselves. Whatever you do, do not download the dance remix of "Five Dollar" song at There are less-painful ways to hate yourself.

Thanks to Adages editor/blogger Ken for the tip!
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