The way to a music video audience's heart, it seems, is through its stomach — or at least that's the route these videos take, with varying degrees of deliciousness.
From rank amateurs trying to grab a little YouTube stardom to established rock stars, food is a good way to establish a connection with an audience, because we've all got to eat. And if your audience loves peanut butter and jelly, chances are decent they'll like a song about peanut butter and jelly too. Perhaps that's why most of the songs on this list celebrate everyday foods — waffles, chicken, fast food drive-thrus.
Conversely, there aren't that many musical odes to uppity or obscure foods — songs about items like truffle oil, pig knuckles, or foie gras seem few and far between — but that last one could potentially inspire some passionate serenades or angry protest songs. Until goose liver becomes a rich musical genre, however, there's plenty of meat-and-potatoes music to enjoy. Turn the page.
10. Mohamed Shahid Nazir, “One Pound Fish”
Pakistani fishmonger Mohamed Shahid Nazir, in response to rising fish prices, began singing for his supper. Customers started uploading cellphone videos of his siren songs to YouTube, which in turn led to an attempt to manufacture him into a one-hit wonder. The official, dancy video is here, but the clip above also features an interview with Nazir that's got to be the most un-rockstarlike rockstar interview in the history of time. You can almost see the last few grains of sand slipping down through Nazir's rapidly draining fame clock.
9. Albino Black Sheep, “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”
In many ways, Peanut Butter Jelly Time captures the spirt of our age. The video, which had 22,953,867 views at press time is emblematic of the YouTube dream: come up with something short, goofy, and simple — in this case, an 8-bit banana repeating, “where you at, where you at, there you go, there you go” for a frantic 1 minute, 46 seconds — gain millions of views, become part of the YouTube canon. This video also captures the angst, pain, and fury of peanut-allergy sufferers everywhere with its anguished cry, “Do the peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat. Now where you at? Where you at?” It's a question to which there are no simple answers.
8. Fast Food Rockers, “Fast Food Song”
Watching this clip is neither pleasant nor entertaining, but it must be done, like some painful rite of passage in a primitive society. While staking your flesh to the sizzling anthill that is this video, marvel at the total lack of irony — and I mean there is none. Haven't these people read Fast Food Nation? Obviously not. This corporate-chain-worshipping song that equates romantic love with fast food gluttony is the worst food/love metaphor since Total Coelo's “I Eat Cannibal,” and that's a low, low bar to pass under. Imagine a disco tune written by a teenager with an obscene fetishy lust for Ronald McDonald and you have this song.
7. Cibo Matto, “Know Your Chicken”
Sex, romance, food, and chicken go together like ham and eggs and food and chicken, especially in this mid-nineties gem from Cibo Matto (a name which translates to “food crazy”). When Miho Hattori whisper-sings, “He was noisy every night… I had always chicken bite,” it gives the world a new perspective on the sex appeal of poultry.
6. Parry Gripp, “Do You Like Waffles?”
It's impressive that merely entering the search term “Do You” into YouTube's search box brings up this childish yet infectuous earworm of a tune from the undisputed king of the one-minute-food-related-animated-repetitive-yet-catchy YouTube video genre.(Disclosure: my band played a couple of gigs with Gripp's band NerfHerder back when we were all about two or three years old or so.) Watch this video at your own risk — you'll never be able to so much as look at a waffle again without bursting into song — and this song in particular. Forever.
5. Girogio, Fareira, “Giorgio Loves Sonic”
Before the musical drive-thru ordering thing began to feel packaged and preplanned, Giorgio was flying without a net. The best thing about “Giorgio Loves Sonic” is that it is clearly improvised — and not just a performance, but a dialogue. Perhaps playing hard to get, the girl taking the order doesn't seem to bat an eye at first, but Giorgio gradually breaks down her defenses as we begin to hear her giggle. It's almost romantic — rather than merely using her, Giorgio seems more to be serenading her. You can almost hear her melt through the speaker as he croons, “Please, please put cheese on them… tonight.”
4. DJ Dave Wittman, “Whole Foods Parking Lot”
Brilliant for the rhyme of “seen, bra” and “quinoa” alone, Whole Foods Parking Lot has so many layers of satire-y goodness it takes repeated viewings to fully appreciate it all. White rap posing, Prius drivers, Whole Foods shoppers, Whole Foods itself, West Los Angeles attitudes are all pressed into service in this video, which launched dozens of homages, rip-offs, and tributes, none of which could hold a sustainably raised beeswax candle to the original and best.
3. Blur, “Coffee and TV”
Musically, the strongest entry on this list, with a compelling narrative about the misadventures of a little milk carton searching for love and adventure, the storyline is so gripping you almost hate it when the video cuts away from the carton's story to include the obligatory shots of the band. This video will make you stop and really think about something too few of use ever even bother to consider: how do the milk cartons feel?
2. Rhett and Link, “Fast Food Folk Song”
The speed with which YouTube memes arise, replicate, and burn themselves out can often be dizzying, and the sing/rap your order at a fast food drive-thru bit was no exception — it's easy to imagine McDonalds employees going from amusement to boredom to anger rather quickly. At a Mickey D's in Utah, in fact, one burgerslinger was so menaced she called the cops, who arrested the offending musical orderers. But Rhett and Link masterfully revive the fad by bringing a folk sensibility to their order, simultaneously dominating and reinventing the genre that seems destined to define the current era as flagpole sitting did the 1930s. And what would the 1930s have been without flagpole sitting?
1. The Gregory Brothers, “Oh My DAYUM”
A video from The Gregory Brothers, the genius team behind AutoTune The News (shoutout to Junkie Einstein!), this clip “songifies” a video from Daym Drops, a YouTube food critic who reviews items like CVS Pharmacy butter cookies and Five Guys burgers, all from the front seat of his car. Making it into a musical elevates Daym's burger lust into something that just makes sense, turning a guilty pleasure into a sing-it-to-the-skies gospel. Oh my dayum.
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