Apple’s New iPhone Ad Features a Song About a Giant Penis

A blog about business and economics.
April 25 2014 5:58 PM

Apple’s New iPhone Ad Features a Song About a Giant Penis

The Pixies.
"Gigantic" might also describe the royalties the Pixies earn off this ad.

Photo by Katie Stratton/Getty Images

So, I personally love it when my favorite bands get a payday by licensing their songs for TV commercials. I am also all for re-appropriating pieces of media in order to draw out their previously unexplored dimensions. But honestly, I’m kind of perplexed that Apple decided to soundtrack its new iPhone 5 ad, released earlier this week, with a cover of “Gigantic” by the Pixies. Because the song is pretty clearly about a penis.

Granted, it’s an incredibly joyous song about a penis, one which could conceivably inspire people to go out and buy a new phone. And Apple’s ad only features lyrics from the chorus, which just repeats the words: “Gigantic! Gigantic! Gigantic! / A big big love.” Out of context, that sounds almost innocuous. Almost. But here’s that chorus, with a little lead-up:

Lovely legs they are
What a big black mess
What a hunk of love
Walk her every day into a shady place
He's like the dark, but I'd want him
Hey Paul, Hey Paul, Hey Paul, let's have a ball
Gigantic! Gigantic! Gigantic!
A big big love
Gigantic! Gigantic! Gigantic!
A big big love
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Yep. That there is a sex song. For some more sophisticated explication, I turn to New York Times music writer Ben Sisario:

On its most obvious and enticing level, it is an unabashed praise song to a well-endowed black man (“Gigantic! Gigantic! Gigantic! / A big, big love!”). But a commonly overlooked theme is its eroticized maternalism: Deal has said that an inspiration for the lyrics was the 1986 film Crimes of the Heart, in which Sissy Spacek plays a married woman who has an affair with a teenager.

The Apple ad is called “Powerful” and seems to be about how the iPhone can empower your creative pursuits. So the phrase “a big big love” feels apt enough. But in the end, as the blog Antiquiet noted this week, Apple has now created an ad featuring kids singing about a giant phallus. Which could certainly be interpreted as a wry commentary on how we treat our phones. I can only hope the director was in on the joke.

And now, the real deal:

Jordan Weissmann is Slate's senior business and economics correspondent.