'Hocus Pocus' by Focus instrumental in Nike ad

Sat, Jul 3
11:08
AM ET

One of the biggest stars of the World Cup hasn't been a player, but a commercial. Nike's much-ballyhooed "Write the Future" ad, playing throughout the tournament, was directed by Alejandro Inarritu (Babel, 21 Grams).

The official three-minute-long version on YouTube uploaded by Nike now has nearly 18 million views.

The commercial's soundtrack is perhaps the driving force, impossible to shake. It seems like the perfect fit for the spot, a composition made to order. Instead, it's a 1970s hit by Dutch band Focus, called "Hocus Pocus."

Focus lead singer Thijs van Leer (pronounced like "Tice"), reached by phone in the Netherlands, said the commercial was a surprise, approved by the song's publisher and shown to him when it was nearly at a completed state.

"It's coming from heaven," said van Leer, now 62. "The last thing you would expect, you know? The last thing on my mind."

In 1973, the song reached No. 9 in the United States and No. 20 on the British charts, a big achievement for an instrumental song. The World Cup exposure led to its re-entrance to the UK charts this month after 37 years. The song landed at No. 57, two spots below a Black Eyed Peas song.

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