In Dolly Parton’s Super Bowl ad, “9 to 5” is rewritten as an ode to the sideline – Quartz at Work


Dolly Parton’s hit “9 to 5” is a rousing criticism of the American workplace. Released as the theme song for the film 9 through 5 with Parton in 1980, the lyrics tell the story of an ambitious, hard-working woman with a job that barely pays the bills and a boss who takes up her ideas without giving them credit. It’s a song all about keeping the mood up while you rail against a system that is turned against you. “It’s a game for the rich / whatever they call it,” Parton concludes. “And you spend your life / money in his wallet.”

Parton’s latest version of “9 to 5” gives the world of work a much sunnier touch. In a new Super Bowl ad for website company Squarespace, Parton is re-introducing “9 through 5” as “5 through 9,” an ode to the side that keeps many people busy after business hours. (It’s unclear whether that’s 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. or 9 a.m., but either way we’re talking about a really long day at work.)

The commercial shows a woman at a desk job who opens her laptop when the clock strikes 5 p.m. to work on her side appearance as a fitness trainer. Meanwhile Parton sings:

Work 9 to 5

You have passion and a vision

Because it’s hectic time

A whole new way of making a living

I will change your life

Do something that makes sense to it

With a website that deserves your dream

No disrespect to Parton, an incredibly talented artist and international treasure, but this happy attitude of what it is like to have one day job and then do another job is … not true to many people’s experience. Keeping sideline jobs down is exhausting, and many people do so less for entrepreneurship than for financial reasons. In addition, extra long working days – for whatever reason – increase our chances of having physical and mental problems, ranging from stress and anxiety to sleep and drug problems.

There’s no way to upgrade Genius from “9 to 5”, but we thought we’d try redefining “5 to 9” from a darker (and perhaps more realistic) perspective on working-page hustle and bustle. We hope you will sing along to “5 through 9: The Worker’s Lament”.

Fall out of bed

And stumble to my laptop

The salary is too low

I can’t freeze my bills

My desk is just an empty Amazon box

Concerned about layoffs

The industry is unstable

Do you need a sideline

Keep food on the table

So I work 9 to 5, then 5 to 9

Work 5 to 9

And then 5 to 9 a.m.

I mean who needs sleep

When a company needs you

We all have second shifts

Maybe three if you’re a woman

Parenthood is unpaid work

So do the laundry and cook!

Drive 5 through 9, Lyfts and Ubers

You might think that’s it

But I also have an online tutor

Do you want to take a break?

But my student debts won’t let me

I swear sometimes the wealth gap is out to get me!

Work 5 to 9

And then 5 to 9 a.m.

Yes, I set “burnout”

On my list of tasks

I am less of a person now

As a function of my work

My sanity is

Down the drain!

Mmmmmm …

[song fadeout]