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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hey soul sisters, and brothers. The band Train on Monday rolled out a new song for the upcoming holidays meant to put a smile on the faces of music fans who are weary of the gloomy economy.
The song, "Shake Up Christmas," is a key part of Coca-Cola Co.'s new Christmas advertising campaign that in past years has featured people or animals, such as the friendly polar bears of 1993, which became iconic for generations of TV viewers.
For years, bands have struggled against declining CD sales by branching out into selling more merchandise and beefing up live and televised performances. But for San Francisco-based Train, singer Pat Monahan told Reuters the new song is less about commerce and more about wanting to conjure holiday joy during tough times.
Monahan said the Grammy-winning band has been touring the world for some 17 months, and they have talked with many people who are grappling with the economic downturn even as their hit love song, "Hey Soul Sister," set crowds to singing happily.
"It's really an honor to know that, somehow, our music is affecting people in a positive way," Monahan said.
He added that writing a song only for commerce -- meaning "Shake Up Christmas" solely for a Coca-Cola ad -- seemed cynical. Approaching a song that way, he said, "you are not going to write inspiring music."
"I think of what I did with 'Shake Up Christmas' as a 'how can I help'" spread some happiness.
The lyrics talk about spreading joy and love and include the chorus: "Shake it up, shake up the happiness/ Wake it up, wake up the happiness/ Come on y'all, it's Christmas time."
The band, whose other hits include "Drops of Jupiter," planned to perform the song for the first time in a show on Monday night in London, one day ahead of Coca-Cola's plans to unveil the advertising campaign and the song to the world.
Dating back to the 1920s, Coca-Cola has geared ad campaigns around the holidays. Its 1931 posters featuring a jolly Santa Claus and created by artist Haddon Sundblom became symbolic of what most people consider to be a joyous time of year.
In more recent decades, a family of Coca-Cola polar bears has conjured thoughts of togetherness and sharing, and ads featuring a caravan of bright, colorful trucks delivering soft drinks has been seen in more than 100 different countries.
Shay Drohan, senior vice president of the company's Sparkling Brands division, said "Shake Up Christmas" will be featured throughout the 2010 holiday campaign.
"We think of (the ads) as tradition," Drohan said. "but we want to balance that with what is new about this Christmas."
The company hopes to build on the success it enjoyed with a similar promotion created around World Cup soccer matches using the song "Wavin' Flag - Coca-Cola Celebration Mix" by Somali rapper K'NAAN. The song was not just a key part of ads, it became a hit that topped record charts in 17 countries.
Whether Train can duplicate that kind of success with "Shake Up Christmas" awaits the days and weeks ahead, but there is one thing of which Monahan is certain right now, the song is not about an ad. "It's really about the spirit" of Christmas, he said.
Editing by Jill Serjeant