By Scott T. Sterling

During the March 2nd episode of Saturday Night Live, enigmatic dance act Daft Punk shocked the music world by airing a new 15-second TV commercial.

Furthering the French band’s mystique, the spot revealed virtually no information beyond a warm disco loop reminiscent of the duo’s 2001 full-length, Discovery.

The snippet is presumably from a new song slated for Daft Punk’s eagerly anticipated fourth studio album, of which the public knows very little beyond the label it’s being released on, Columbia Records. Rumors surrounding the release continue to swirl, including alleged participation from such dance music luminaries as Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rodgers.

More than just teasing rabid fans hungry for new Daft Punk music (enough that a video of the 15-second riff looped for 10 straight hours has hit YouTube), the ad shown during SNL revived the long-lost art of the album release TV commercial.

Back in a world before the internet, YouTube and album preview streams, some of the biggest acts in the world turned to network and cable TV to get the word out about new releases.

From future-shocked animation to straight promotional tools to whatever it was that Nirvana did with Bobcat Goldthwait, these classic TV commercials hawking albums over the years remember when music ruled all of the airwaves.

inUtero Daft Punk Revives The Great Rock Album TV AdNirvanaIn Utero
Still flush from the unexpected success of the band’s legendary second album, Nevermind, Nirvana’s label Geffen ponied up the dough to produce a TV spot promoting what would be their third and final studio release, 1993’s In Utero. Never an act to phone anything in, Kurt Cobain and crew called in comedian Bobcat Goldthwait to play Lamaze coach as the band feigned giving birth. With diapered chickens and a dead fish involved, the 30-second ad is a bizarre as it sounds.

Aja Daft Punk Revives The Great Rock Album TV AdSteely DanAja
For the revered jazz-fusion act’s most famous and best-selling 1977 full-length, ABC Records recruited none less than Eartha Kitt (best known for being one of the actresses to play Catwoman on the original 1960s Batman TV series) to provide the distinctive voice-over for an atmospheric TV commercial that attempted to bring the album’s iconic cover art to life.

CureWish Daft Punk Revives The Great Rock Album TV AdThe CureWish
In the early 1990s, MTV’s weekly late-night show 120 Minutes was a major outlet for then-emerging alternative artists who fell outside of the norm, although many of them were rapidly closing in on mainstream success. One such band was the Cure, whose U.S. popularity was still peaking when they released 1992 album, Wish. Elektra Records produced this conceptual ad especially for the show, incorporating shots of lead singer Robert Smith from the music video for album single “High” with trippy animation based on the record’s cover.

rumours Daft Punk Revives The Great Rock Album TV AdFleetwood MacRumours
Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 mega-smash was such a hit that Warner Brothers commissioned two different 30-second TV spots to promote it on TV. Both open with animated sequences featuring the band’s famous penguin logo coming to life and a clip of the single “Don’t Stop.” But for the second commercial, a quick snippet of “Go Your Own Way” is replaced by Stevie Nicks composition “Dreams,” which would go on to be Fleetwood Mac’s only #1 single in America.

Animals Daft Punk Revives The Great Rock Album TV AdPink FloydAnimals
Footage of the infamous giant inflatable pig flying over England’s Battersea Power Station was used for this commercial promoting the band’s 1977 concept album. Inexplicably, the spot opens to the strains of Strauss’ famous “Blue Danube” before fading into album track “Pigs (Three Different Ones).” This would be the band’s last album before producing the legendary 1979 double-LP, The Wall.

michael jackson thriller album cover Daft Punk Revives The Great Rock Album TV AdMichael JacksonThriller
Released in late 1982 with Paul McCartney duet “The Girl is Mine” as the album’s lead single, it wasn’t until second single “Billie Jean” exploded that Thriller went on to become the worldwide phenomenon that would make Jackson the biggest star in the world. As “Billie Jean” began to ramp up, this neon-soaked TV spot trumpeted the song’s success, with the only other tune mentioned being the McCartney collaboration. Also noteworthy is the album’s price point, available on vinyl at Sam Goody stores for $6.99 at the time. Cassette purchasers had to pony up another 50 cents to get their hands on Thriller.

diamondDogs Daft Punk Revives The Great Rock Album TV AdDavid BowieDiamond Dogs
To drum up excitement for the 1974 glam concept album, this bizarre ad features a glazed Bowie in the recording studio addressing someone off-screen before awkwardly acknowledging the camera as the album’s title cut blares in the background. Originally conceived for an imagined stage production of George Orwell’s 1984, Diamond Dogs features one of Bowie’s most enduring singles, “Rebel Rebel.”

GOATS Daft Punk Revives The Great Rock Album TV AdRolling StonesGoats Head Soup
Following what many consider to be the Stones’ magnum opus, Exile on Main Street, the band convened in Jamaica to record this 1973 album. Most of the 60-second ad features the band performing first single “Angie,” the ballad that would go on to top the U.S. charts. The last part of the commercial shows Jagger fronting the group in a revealing gold jumpsuit, performing grim opening track “Dancing with Mr. D.”

Venus and Mars venusmars Daft Punk Revives The Great Rock Album TV AdWingsVenus and Mars
After hitting pay-dirt with the immensely successful 1973 album Band on the Run, Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles band Wings returned with the decidedly mellower Venus and Mars in 1975. To promote this U.S. album chart-topper on TV, the album’s simple cover art comes alive as a pair of billiard balls in the commercial. The spot features McCartney and the rest of Wings playing pool and goofing around as snippets from five of the album’s songs play in the background.

HotHot Daft Punk Revives The Great Rock Album TV AdKISSHotter Than Hell
Due in large part to the business acumen of late manager Bill Aucoin, KISS would become pioneers in music marketing, as well known during their ‘70s heyday for promotional stunts (like KISS comic books with the band member’s blood being used in the ink and made-for-TV movies) as they were for bombastic live shows and riff-heavy rock anthems. There are a slew of TV commercials promoting hit KISS albums throughout the years, with the small screen the perfect medium to get the band’s eye-popping “fire and thunder” across to their fanatical followers. This clip for 1974’s Hotter Than Hell (only the band’s second album) is a prime example.


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