Whimsical Aussie pop singer Lenka knows success 

Whimsical Aussie pop singer Lenka just can’t help it. She instinctively pens ear-candy ditties such as “The Show,” a vaudevillian smash from her self-titled 2008 debut that went top 10 in 10 countries.  

Her upcoming follow-up, “Two,” bubbles with similar confections, hum-alongs such as “Roll With the Punches” and kickoff single “Heart Skips a Beat,” which employs samples of her own heartbeat and breathing for rhythmic effects.

While she is grateful for the DJs who have played her songs, radio wasn’t the primary medium that got her music to the masses.

Lenka, who plays in The City at the Rickshaw Stop on Friday, is the reigning queen of advertisement soundtracks.

Her songs have serpentined into TV commercials for Sears, Coca-Cola, Old Navy, shampoo in Hong Kong, skin lotion in the Philippines and as TV-station promos in India, Britain and even Poland.  

Not to mention, of course, her music’s prime placement in popular shows such as “90210,” “The Mentalist,” “Ugly Betty,” “The Hills” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“Right now, there are so many it’s quite hard for me to keep track of them all,” says Lenka, who performs under one name (her last name is Kripac), of her long licensing list.

Her weirdest music-marketing hookup?

“There’s a furniture ad in the U.K. where I was like, ‘There is absolutely no relation here!’ It was ‘The Show,’ but it worked,” says Lenka, 33, who just married her longtime video-and-visuals collaborator James Gulliver Hancock.

Most effective: “The Polish TV network one that used the snippet ‘just enjoy the show’ as an ad for that season’s programming,” she says. “They went really literal with it, but then my album went to No. 1, then platinum there. And apparently, people would just walk around the street, singing my song, because they knew it so well from TV.”

Sometimes Lenka approaches the corporations she works with, and sometimes they call her.

“My label and my publisher are definitely actively pitching, and they obviously want as many placements as possible because it’s priceless exposure for an artist,” she says. “But then with the Coca-Cola commercial — with cute animated insects drinking a bubble of Coke — they wanted to put my song in it, so they contacted me. And once you become a flavor like that, even more people want you. So we’re starting to get a little more picky now.”

Naturally, this ex-sculptor/actress would never write a number with a product in mind.

“But I can guess which ones they’ll like,” Lenka says, describing a particular tune on “Two.” “I was just telling my label, ‘I’ll bet you guys that “Everything At Once” is going to be the one.’ And sure enough, it’s already had two placements!”



Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., San Francisco

When: 8:30 p.m. Friday

$13 to $15

Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.rickshawstop.com, www.ticketfly.com

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Tom Lanham

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