Is Stephin Merritt Absolutely Cuckoo For Spearmint And Wintergreen?

sm.jpgA tipster just sent us a YouTube clip for a Wrigley’s gum ad that aired during last night’s episode of American Idol, wondering if the droll singing voice coming out of the actor’s mouth was none other than the Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt. It sure sounds like a Magnetic Fields song that just happens to be about the American Dental Association–right down to the plinky (but charming!) piano on the backing track–but the performance is a little too polished to quite convince us it’s the man himself. Merritt’s obviously cool with selling his distinctively froggy pipes to ad agencies, but clearly we need a second through sixty-ninth opinion here, so decide for yourself after the jump.

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Wrigley’s “Gum Is Good” [YouTube/HT: James Barber]

  • loudersoft

    Impersonator. He doesn’t have Stephin’s low end or anything close to it.

  • girlhappy

    Possibly Jens Lekman? He often sounds like Merritt, and has similar pop sensibilities…

  • tigerpop

    Nothing very froggy about the voice there. Can’t be Merritt.

  • CloudCarrier

    All signs (stacked imagery in the lyrics, small chorus of his regulars in the background, his enduring love for the lost art of the jingle) point to yes. As for not being froggy enough, he probably sped up the tape (a la “Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits”, to hit the high notes) as to fit the less than 25-second mark, and make it even more woozy than usual. And that pitter patter melody is clearly his.

    I think Jens did a few commercials, too. Check your laundry detergent supplier to be sure!

  • dana danger

    Thank heavens other people noticed the similarity, it freaks me out a little every time the commercial comes on. I think yes, but I really have no idea.

  • Charles A. Hohman

    I immediately pegged it as him when I saw the ad. Still pretty certain of it. The lyrics and the melody point to Merritt, and that Cesar dog food ad probably got him more money than “Distortion” ever will.

    So when’s “69 Love Songs” night on “American Idol”? Can’t wait to hear David Archuleta’s take on “Busby Berkeley Dreams.”

  • Bob Loblaw

    If it’s not him, then that means “Stephin Merritt impersonator” is
    now a viable career choice. And unless Gil from the Simpsons suddenly
    became corporeal, it’s actually Merritt.

  • westartedthis

    jens lekman – ha. they don’t bother to notify him when they’re going to use his music (or something too close to be a coincidence) in a commercial.


    it is most definitely not jens lekman (no swedish accent!), and i agree with loudersoft that the low end is missing, but it’s a not-half-bad impersonator.

  • mike a

    It’s gotta be Stephin Merritt. The rhyme “American Dental Association”/”jubilation” rhyme is pure Magnetic Fields.

  • troutblood

    Seriously. I’d know that MELODY anywhere. Only Merritt writes melodies like that. Seriously.

  • goldsoundz

    I always assumed that commercial was using something Jens had sampled, but I just read the story now. Shame that’s he not getting paid for it.

    The lyrics to this are pure Merritt.

  • growler

    “A tipster just sent us a YouTube clip…”

    Jeeze, don’t you guys read comments here? I asked this same question two days ago.


  • cerulgalactus

    I vote for Merritt penned, imitator sung.

  • Anonymous

    Merritt-like, but I don’t think Stephin ever smiles that big when singing, so I’m voting no. Definitely written/sung by someone who’s really into him though.