Top 10 spirits plugs in pop musicBy Amy Hopkins
The inherent hedonism and glamour of the spirits industry make its products common references in popular music – from Tanqueray to Hennessy, and Amy Winehouse to 2Pac, here’s a look at our top 10 spirits plugs in pop.
Following on from our recent top 10 movie drinks, we decided to take a look at how spirits infiltrate a different area of pop culture – music. Whether featuring in gangster rap or glitzy pop, spirits are often referenced by artists who want to laud their own extravagant lifestyles.
Although Dom Pérignon Champagne and other luxury wines are common tropes denoting wealth and status, over recent years, spirits have quickly become symbols of the fast and luxurious lifestyle synonymous with the music business.
The accompanying music videos in today’s multimedia music world also offer some prime product placement for premium spirits brands, or even an artist’s own product.
This blurring of industries, however, is criticised by many who believe it encourages an irresponsible lifestyle and exploits underage drinking.
Others claim that without the product placement of these brands, artists would not receive adequate funding to make music. This list looks at how music and spirits are entwined through liquor laced lyrics and visual product placements in music videos.
So turn on the radio, pour yourself a drink, and click through the following pages to see our top ten spirits plugs in pop music.
Think we’ve missed a famous musical reference to the spirits industry? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Robin Thicke – Rémy V
With an astonishing 146 million views on YouTube, Robin Thicke, TI, and Pharrel Williams’s 2013 smash Blurred Lines would have undoubtedly given sponsors Remy Martin a good sales boost. In the song’s controversial music video, Thicke is featured pouring himself a glass of the high-end Rémy V while surrounded by topless women. Though the video has quickly become a modern classic, it has been reported that music executives were not initially supportive, and so Rémy Martin stepped in to offer funding in return for visual exposure. It didn’t hurt that both Thicke and his wife are a spokespeople for the company.
Busta Rhymes and P Diddy – Courvoisier
US rap artist Busta Rhymes collaborated with P Diddy to release the not-so-subtly-named song Pass the Courvoisier – an homage to the luxury Cognac. Busta’s management company previously said that the title of this massive hit was merely an artistic choice, but it also reportedly helped Courvoisier’s parent company at the time Allied Domecq achieve an 18.9% jump in US sales of the top-shelf liquor. Subsequently, Domecq later entered into a promotional deal with Busta’s management company, Violator. Busta’s collaborator in the song, P Diddy, is also no stranger to astute spirits advertising, with his own brand of vodka, Ciroc, taking the spotlight in his music videos on numerous occasions.
Pitbull – Voli Vodka
Pitbull – the Cuban-American rapper otherwise known as Armando Christian Perez – featured Voli vodka in the music video for his 2011 hit Give Me Everything. Surrounded by scantily clad women and neon lights, the label of the low calorie drink is clearly visible to the camera. Pitbull also refers to the brand in the lyrics for Rain Over Me. It is probably not surprising that the musician owns a stake in the company, though Voli bosses have said that they do not “need a face” to sell their products.
Swedish House Mafia – Absolut Vodka
The European electronic dance trio released the music video for their track Greyhound in collaboration with Absolut Vodka as part of a new trend that has seen brands completely fund music videos, as opposed to paying for individual product placements. Sitting somewhere between an advertisement for Absolut and a visual platform for Swedish House Mafia’s track, the video features an eccentrically clothed group of people enjoy the vodka while watching a robot greyhounds race. The spirit, owned by Pernod Ricard, had previously paired up with Cee-Lo Green and Jay-Z to form “creative partnerships”.
2Pac – Hennessy
Rap star Tupac Shakur (2Pac), who was gunned down in the mid-90s, penned the track Hennessy about his love of the high-end Cognac. A brand regularly alluded to in hip hop songs, Tupac was the first artist to title a track after the luxury spirit and references the allure of – as he calls it – “that dark shit” throughout. Jamie Foxx also released a song entitled Blame It which refers to the brand, affectionately calling the spirit “Henne”.
Rihanna – Jameson whiskey
Global superstar Rihanna released Cheers, Drink to That in 2011, a song which referenced Irish whiskey brand Jameson in the chorus. The chorus follows: “Cheers to the freakin’ weekend / I drink to that, yeah yeah / Oh let the Jameson sink in, yeah yeah.” Lady Gaga also claimed to be a fan of the brand, clutching a bottle of Jameson whiskey at a Dublin show, calling it her “long-term boyfriend”. It was reported that Jameson brand ambassador Brian Nation referred to this bout of publicity as something “you can’t buy”.
Amy Winehouse – Tanqueray
Late singer Amy Winehouse, who died of a drugs overdose in 2011, penned You Know I’m Good for her best-selling album Back to Black, referencing premium London dry gin Tanqueray. Using desire for Tanquery as a metaphor for an obsessive relationship, Winehouse sings: “Meet you downstairs at the bar and heard / Your rolled up sleeves and your skull T-shirt / You say “what did you do with him today?” / and sniffed me out like I was Tanqueray.” Owned by drinks group Diageo, Tanqueray has recently launched an exclusive song by Aloe Blacc called Downtown.
Ke$ha – Jack Daniels
Pop star Ke$ha pays homage to her party-girl lifestyle with her 2010 hit Tick Tock, referencing Jack Daniels whiskey. In the first verse, Ke$ha sings: “Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy / Grab my glasses, I’m out the door, I’m gonna hit the city / Before I leave brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack / Cause when I leave for the night I ain’t coming back.” The singer later told Vanity Fair magazine that this lyric was no mere hyperbole, claiming that she indeed does brush her teeth with the spirit which she believes is “an antibacterial” and “way better than morning breath”.
Nicki Minaj – Patrón
Trinidadian-American singer-songwriter Nicki Minaj referenced premium Tequila brand Patrón in her 2012 track Starships. She sings: “Have a clink drink, found the Bud Light / The Patron on, let’s go get it on / The zone on, yes, I’m in the zone”. The spirit does not feature visually in Minaj’s music video – this space predominantly features Minaj cavourting on a beach in a hot pink bikini.
Rita Ora – Tanqueray
The UK pop star followed in the footsteps of Amy Winehouse when referring to this London Dry Gin in her 2013 single How We Do (Party). In the first verse, Ora sings: “You look so sweet while your dreaming / Holding your bottle of Tanqueray / It isn’t even the weekend / Baby that’s how I know you’re the one for me.” The song borrows lyrics from Party and Bullshit by the late Notorious B.I.G – who regularly alluded to various spirits brands in his songs.