Steve Jobs Greatest Hits

With iTunes, Steve Jobs made it possible to legally download songs one at a time for just 99 cents each. With the iPod, we could take those songs just about anywhere.

In addition to this massive technical and collaborative achievement, Jobs also brought us some great songs in Apple's commercials. Some of these selections were on the obvious side, but he also picked some winners from fairly obscure bands who welcomed the boost. Here are his greatest hits.
Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet
2004 iPod 4G

Just try taking your eyes off of this one - silhouettes of fetching young folks dancing like there's no tomorrow in front of a world of colors. The song rocked hard, and it introduced us to Jet, an Australian band that cracked the Top-40 stateside once the commercial took hold.

Around The Bend - The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
2008 iPod Touch

Asteroids beatsmith Lars Iversen told us that their management pitched the group to Apple, and Steve Jobs himself picked "Around The Bend" to introduce the iPod Touch. The Danish duo scored another commercial hit in 2011 when "The Golden Age" was used in spots for Heineken. With their quirky layers of samples and pixie voiced lead singer, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour has so far been enjoyed in 30 second increments, though their full songs are certainly worth a listen.
Viva La Vida - Coldplay

Coldplay released their 2008 hit exclusively on iTunes, and the commercial was as much for the song as the service - it even displayed the name of the song at the end of the spot, which was helpful since the title doesn't who up in the lyrics.
New Soul - Yael Naim
MacBook Air

With this commercial, Jobs made Yael Naim the first Israeli singer to score a Top-10 solo hit in America. She was a great find for Jobs, who picked the song himself. Her song about getting it right the second time around got her a lot of attention, which Yael followed up by disappearing. We talked to her in 2011 when she re-emerged, and she told us, "It was very, very important not to forget where we came from. The message that we received from life was just continue to relax and to do music that you like and just not think about every other distraction."
Vertigo - U2
2004 iPod

U2 was a great fit for Apple, pairing the innovative company with the band out to change the world through music. It was also a lucrative deal, with Apple releasing a special-edition iPod with the signatures of the band members engraved on the back. They also bundled the entire U2 catalog on iTunes for $150, complete with bonus tracks. Jobs knew marketing.
White Room - Cream
2000 iMac - the white one

This was just before Apple got creative in their song selections. During the iMac era, they went the obvious route with songs about colors, since the computers came in, you know, lots of colors. "She's A Rainbow" by the Rolling Stones was one selection, and "White Room" was another - a song about hopelessness and depression used because it had the color in the title. The only reason to be depressed with this one is if you sold your Apple stock at this point, as the songs got a lot less literal and the products a whole lot better.

Bruises - Chairlift
2008 Nano 4G

Those floating Nanos look great over this etherial song by a previously obscure electro pop trio. Their producer had them mainstream the song a bit, telling them, "If you want the good Pitchfork review, use your version. If you want the iPod commercial, use my version."

1234 - Feist
2007 Nano 3G

A slightly surreal video gets even weirder when it is shown in an array of Nanos. The song was in an Australian ad for Ebay before Jobs found it, and despite the commercial usage, the song is very anti-materialism. Sally Seltmann, who wrote it with Feist, told us the message of the song: "Money can't buy you back the initial feelings you have when you first start falling in love with someone."
Hey Mama - The Black Eyed Peas
2003 iPod

In the first iPod commercials, Jobs let us know that it's OK to groove without purpose, and introduced the silhouette/color backdrop look. The Peas were on their way to pop culture domination, and so was Apple.
More Song Writing

Comments: 10

  • Amelia from UsaWhat about the CSS song? It's interesting, odd, and was the first promo for the iPod Touch. "My music is where I'd like you to touch!" It's still a good song, all these plays later.
  • Einy from UsaAlso forgot Miss Li "Bourgeois Shangri-La"
  • Splat from Frankford, DeCAKE's "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" (iPod Nano)
  • Dave from UkWolfmother's love train?
  • Camille from Toronto, Oh"1234" by Feist: one of the best videos ever made!
    "Viva la Vida" by Coldplay, one of the best songs ever!
  • Johnny Sack from New YorkCaesars' "Jerk It Out"??
  • Erik from Bloomfield Hills, MiShe's A Rainbow - Rolling Stones (iMac G3)
  • K from Nowhere, OnTing Tings?
  • Amanda Costa from BrazilApple Cube Ad!! Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze! I love that ad!
  • Aiox from UsaYou forgot Daft Punk's "Technologic"...
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jonathan Cain of Journey

Jonathan Cain of JourneySongwriter Interviews

Cain talks about the divine inspirations for "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Faithfully."

Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go's

Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go'sSongwriter Interviews

Charlotte was established in the LA punk scene when a freaky girl named Belinda approached her wearing a garbage bag.

Mike Scott of The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"

Mike Scott of The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"They're Playing My Song

Armed with a childhood spent devouring books, Mike Scott's heart was stolen by the punk rock scene of 1977. Not surprisingly, he would go on to become the most literate of rockers.

Who's Johnny, And Why Does He Show Up In So Many Songs

Who's Johnny, And Why Does He Show Up In So Many SongsSong Writing

For songwriters, Johnny represents the American man. He has been angry, cool, magic, a rebel and, of course, marching home.

Little Big Town

Little Big TownSongwriter Interviews

"When seeds that you sow grow by the wicked moon/Be sure your sins will find you out/Your past will hunt you down and turn to tell on you."

Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"

Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"Songwriter Interviews

Ian talks about his 3 or 4 blatant attempts to write a pop song, and also the ones he most connected with, including "Locomotive Breath."