There is knowledge we’re glad to have learned over the years. Like attaining sufficient competence in Spanish to get directions and ask for someone’s favorite taco in Tijuana. And still knowing your parent’s or sibling’s cellphone by heart, or where to trace our way back to some solid backyard barbecue pits in Los Angeles.
Then there are the things taking up space in our brains that we’re less proud of. Like the unexplained ability to rap along to the first verse of J-Kwon’s ‘Tipsy’ without ever voluntarily playing that song ourselves, or the lyrics to Toxicity by System of a Down—you know them, I know them, we know them.
But more often than not, it’s the untold dozens of short songs bouncing around our brains at any given moment. The songs and catchphrases of local commercials that simply won’t ever get shed for any new, more useful neural information, except for actually purchasing whatever product or service they are hawking at us multiple times a day for those of us who work from home. In other words, we’re ranking LA’s most beloved and most hated local jingles today, from “oh God, turn it off before I stab my own eardrums” to “oooh, I wouldn’t mind hearing that again.”
Are all of these technically jingles? No. Some find their annoying or treasured qualities in a more visual medium. Don’t let that bother you. The point is, they’re all classically LA commercials, designed in one form or another to haunt you for the rest of your life until you may actually need the goods or services they are offering! If we forgot your favorite one, please, let us know in that comment section.
In a few cases, that’s a good thing. In others, well… you better call Sweet Jaaaames!
10) Sit n’ Sleep
Sit n’ Sleep commercials come from the Hail Mary school of advertising that suggests one should annoy the customer into recognizing your brand. They’re based around a simple odd couple-esque set-up. On one side there’s Irwin, a neurotic, nebbish stereotype whose very life force depends on his ability to maintain a pragmatic business acumen and tight-fisted hold on the bottom line. His freewheeling foil from him is Larry, a devil-may-care partner whose concern is people over profits. They joust over upcoming sales and discounts, with the end result always being the same, Irwin shrieking, “you’re killing me Larry!” And thereby annoying the shit out of everyone in greater Los Angeles for years on end. Although the company seems to have actually, finally killed Irwin, discontinuing the commercials, for now, the sonic memories will never die. For their ability to still enrage, they take their place at #10.
9) Jack Stephan Plumbing
Our own clunky Slavic surname, choked with a strange commingling of consonants, is never, ever pronounced correctly. So forgive us if we never had much sympathy for Jack Stephan’s grievances with the world. “Stepanovich?” “Stephansky?” his customers would incorrectly call him. As if trying to say “Stephan” is giving them a hard time prior to the addition of a few extra syllables. Anyway, fuck Jack Stephan with his easy-to-pronounce-ass last name.
8) Attorney Big Al
In breakingbad, lawyer Jimmy McGill changed his name to Saul Goodman because, quoting the “homies” he represents “want a pipe-hitting member of the tribe” representing them. Apparently, LA’s Attorney Big Al is embracing the exact inverse of that, leaving his real name de él mostly off his commercial for one that hits more seamlessly when wedged after a block of DMX on K-DAY. For it’s only in the final glorious moments of an Attorney Big Al commerciahe that a motor-mouthed whisper of a disclaimer tells us, “Big Al is really attorney Ken Klein.” Essentially making him the Mr. Glass to Goodman’s David Dunn. This sliver of compulsory LA genius isn’t a true jingle. The only reason it’s not in the top three of this list.
7) Powell Electric
This is fairly standard jingle-stuff, crafted to get stuck in your craw. It’s an impossibly cheerful plea to bring your electric needs to the kind folks at Powell Electric, with some simple pun-work about the speed in which your predicament will be fixed. The true magic of this TV commercial is in its casting. Instead of choosing from LA’s wealth of cute actors or relatable real-life types, it appears two busy employees were simply pressured into taking the roles. Watch as they’re tasked with woodenly lip-synching to the mismatched female vocals, eventually executing an awkward fist bump that suggests they’re cool working with just about anybody, other than the fucking asswipe standing next to them. May it never, ever be taken off the air.
6) Jacob Emrani
Nothing too crazy going on here. Just a few standard notes spelling out when (“accidents and injuries”) and how (telephone) to reach the law offices of ubiquitous attorney-on-billboards-guy, Jacob Emrani. All set to what we can only assume is the handclap rhythm from George Michael’s “Faith.” You could probably buy a jingle like this for $125 on Ventura Boulevard if you knew where to look. The bigger question may be: How many mustaches would it take to turn Jacob Emrani into everyone’s favorite bus-bound attorney, John Dominguez?
5) Living Spaces
We still don’t know exactly what in-the-hell Living Spaces offers. Ottomans…perhaps? When this commercial comes on, there’s a 100% chance you’ll be away from the TV, getting more coffee, while its sneaky brain worm discretely conquers the contents of your skull. Helpless, you forever keep singing the clear, omnipresent, four-toned theme song for as long as you still wake up in the morning. “Liv-ing space-ezz!” at any time, for no good reason. Truly, the synapses that echo with this eternal refrain will perish long after we’ve lost the ability to use the bathroom on our own. For its diabolical invasiveness, it gets the five spots.
4) 1-800 West Medical
If we have to look at someone’s seriously 3-D varicose veins at 7 AM, at least we get to do it to a light, sunny jingle that sounds like the Lemonheads. Or another one of those jangly 90s bands that weren’t drug-addled, dirty, and suicidal enough for us to actually ever listen to.
3) Sweet James
As children, nothing terrified us quite like the video for Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me.” As adults, few things terrify us quite like the sudden appearance of a litigious personal injury attorney. Enter Sweet James, who altered this classic 80’s song of paranoia and prying eyes into a theme for his law practice, while simultaneously tripping us out with his weird pimp name and floating baby curls. “If you’ve been injured… you gotta call Sweet James!” Naturally, you should all assume that, by extension of his song choice, Sweet James is also watching you. Always.
2) Galpin Ford
But hark, what banger is this? “If you need a Ford… Get it at Galpin!” Damn. Is that B-Real’s little cousin on the track? “F-150?! Get it at Galpin!” Who made this beat? Is that a flute? “Mustangs and Fusions?! Get it at Galpin!” This is actually kind of a good song. Do not? A great song? Fuck it, we better get a Fusion just in case.
one) Cal Worthington Ford
Pussy Cow… now and forever, Pussy Cow. As sure as chimpanzees enjoy donning human garments, tigers make great pets, and LA will always be a little bit of a country town at heart, the mere mention of this cowboy-hatted, bolo-tied Long Beach car salesman will always mean The Munsters, Little Rascals, Popeye, and Three Stooges are on Channel 5 right now. At least inside the warm sanctuary of our heads.
And since by nature of the internet, we know there’s someone out there just waiting to tell us where we fucked up and that we’ve forgotten something, we welcome your comments on any classic LA jingles we may have missed or failed to remember.