Gnarls Barkley’s “Run” has the right energy for this spot, and it seems to fit, so long as you don’t listen too closely to the lyrics.
Nike begins the spot with the third verse:
Yeah I’m on the run
See where I’m coming from
When you see me coming run
Before you see what I’m running from
No time for question asking time is passing by
Here is the first verse:
Yeah its still the same
Can’t you feel the pain
When the needle hits the vein
Ain’t nothing like the real thing
I’ve seen it once before
And oh it’s something else
Some people think the song is about drugs, some about pedophilia, others about music (the “needle hits the vein” being the needle of a turntable hitting the vein/groove of a vinyl LP). Music would be good. Drugs and pedophilia, not so much.
Sometimes an effective music license has as much to do with what you don’t use from a particular recording as it does with what you do use. In this case, Nike parsed “Run” carefully so as to avoid any potential PR headaches from a consumer who might have a negative interpretation of the lyrics. By beginning with the third verse the song becomes more about the action of running than the idea of what you are running from.