Did Weezer rip off the Barenaked Ladies?

by Mathew on June 10, 2008 · 15 comments

One of the latest “viral” videos making the rounds of music blogs, Twitter and email lists over the past couple of weeks is the new music video from Weezer, the band behind such hits as Buddy Holly and Beverly Hills. In the clip, singer Rivers Cuomo and the other members of the band appear along with a troupe of Internet “celebrities,” including Gary Brolsma (the Numa Numa guy), the Eepybird guys (Diet Coke and Mentos), Tay Zonday of Chocolate Rain fame and others.

It’s a great idea. At the same time, however, it’s also uncomfortably similar to a music video that Canada’s own Barenaked Ladies did last year, for their song “The Sound of Your Voice.” Although Tay Zonday doesn’t make an appearance, the Numa Numa guy does and so do the Eepybird guys — and so do some other YouTube “stars,” including Matt Harding (of “Where the hell is Matt?”), Tony Huynh (a Canadian YouTuber known as “the Wine Kone”) and Brooks “Brookers” Brodack. As in the Weezer video, some of the stars sing along, although the members of the Ladies don’t recreate their own version of the Diet Coke fountains.

Tribute, coincidence or rip-off? Hard to say. There have been other similar homages to YouTube stars, including an episode of South Park called Canada On Strike that featured the Dramatic Chipmunk character (which is actually a prairie dog) and other YouTube celebrities. And Dan Meth produced an animated tribute to YouTube stars called The Meth Minute, which hit the Internet last year, not long after the Barenaked Ladies video. In any case, it’s clear which of the music videos the crowd really prefers: the Weezer video has more than 6.5 million views after just two weeks, and the Barenaked Ladies video has only 400,000 views after more than a year. How Canadian.

  • http://gangles.ca/ Gangles

    A video with bare naked ladies doing poorly on the Internet?

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Ah yes — the ladies are just in the name of the band. I expect the
    video would have done better if they were actually in the video :-)

  • http://www.wholemap.com/blog seemsArtless

    What is this talk of bare naked ladies? You're based in Toronto, right Matt? I'm calling the mayor, she should step in to make SURE there is no mention of bare naked ladies in Toronto. Not on the blogs, not on stage at city hall, no sir, no way. We can't have that.

    You might be on to something though… it would explain why Weezer started their song “<3 Songs” ( Heart Songs for the noobs ) with a reference to Gordon Lightfoot.

  • http://www.blaise.ca/ Blaise Alleyne

    It's cool that Weezer is building on the idea, but it would have been nice if they've given the BNL a shout out if that was part of their inspiration.

  • http://www.blaise.ca/ Blaise Alleyne

    uh… they'd*

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    I agree, Blaise. That would have been the cool thing to do.

  • http://blog.fagstein.com/ Fagstein

    The sad truth is that more and more artists are discovering that the best way to get instantly popular on YouTube is to name-drop YouTube stars. That's what lonelygirl15 did in the early stages, and it's what makes these videos so popular. It's also why half the most popular posts on Digg talk about Digg. Internet communities obsess about themselves.

    Dan Meth realized this, which is why he created Internet People to launch his MethMinute series (which goes well beyond that and is actually quite funny).

    Part of it is the bang-for-your-buck ratio of making lists of things. People on the Internet are all about looking at lists. Part of it is the value of the in-joke and pop culture references.

    Eventually, the Internet world will tire of this (if they haven't already), and these videos will lose their charm.

    (I'll also point you to Internet Stars are Viral from about the same time)

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  • http://youtube.com/churchhatestucker Church

    November, '06!

    What do I win?

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks, Church — you win… a free copy of Weezer's Pork and Beans video, which you can download from YouTube using any one of a number of third-party tools :-)

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