"I move away from the mic to breathe in" became a meme oft-repeated on 4chan after its appearance in the "Chocolate Rain" video. Tay Zonday told MTV "I just figured that if I didn't mention it people would wonder what I was doing".
|Single by Tay Zonday|
|Released||2007 (Planet Zonday)|
|Recorded||Tay Zonday's apartment, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.|
|Tay Zonday singles chronology|
"Chocolate Rain" is a song and music video written and performed by American Internet personality Tay Zonday. After being posted on YouTube on April 22, 2007, the song quickly became popular. By 2009 the video had over 45 million views. The music video portrays a bespectacled Zonday in a recording studio wearing a white T-shirt and singing into a condenser microphone. Occasional cutbacks to Zonday playing a digital piano are also shown. The video is also famous for a caption displayed early in the video "**I move away from the mic to breathe in", which has been parodied many times. The song, and its writer/performer, attracted major media attention.
"Chocolate Rain" is ranked as the hottest viral video of Summer 2007 by CTV.ca and as the number 2 viral video in the world by utalkmarketing.com. It was the winner in the Music category in the 2007 YouTube Awards.
The song is known for the deep voice of its singer and his unique mannerisms while singing, telling the viewer "**I move away from the mic to breathe in" via subtitles. David Lowe of The Sun characterized Zonday's voice as being "gravelly as Rod Stewart but alas without the groove", expressing no surprise at Zonday's lack of formal musical training. Other reviews have been more favorable. Garth Montgomery of The Daily Telegraph praises the song's “hypnotic quality” while criticizing its “cheesy drum loop”.
During a brief interview on The Opie and Anthony Show, Zonday referred to the song as "cheesy", and stated that its cryptic lyrics dealt with deep racism. This echoes Zonday's comments posted to the video's page on YouTube.
|“||I'm pretty sure the "Chocolate Rain" attention started as a joke at 4chan.org, an image board that is credited with starting lots of popular internet phenomena. It spread to a general audience and people started uploading spoofs. I don't know what causes people to listen to my music. If I could speak it, there would be no reason to write songs.||”|
The song deals with many race issues in America, invoking high prison rates among African Americans ("The prisons make you wonder where it went"), economic racism ("Raised your neighborhood insurance rates") and in many instances how society glosses over racial problems ("Every February washed away," referring to Black History Month in the U.S. and Canada).
Clips of the video have been played or referenced on TV and radio shows, including G4TV's Attack of the Show, Last Call with Carson Daly and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and on Maury. On August 9, 2007, Zonday performed the song on the late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live, as part of its "Internet Talent Showcase". It has also been performed live on the BBC Radio 1 Chris Moyles Show. More recently, Zonday appeared on Lily Allen's show, Lily Allen and Friends, where he sang in a live performance of Lily's song "Smile".
"Chocolate Rain" is the subject of numerous parodies, tributes, remixes and covers on the Internet. Major musical artists, such as singer John Mayer and Green Day drummer Tré Cool have spoofed the song on television and YouTube.com, respectively. Blamesociety Productions produced its own parody using Chad Vader. He goes on to make his own lyrics, breathe away from the microphone as in the original, and runs out of lyrics that fit the structure. During some 2007 and 2008 performances, LeRoi Moore, the saxophonist for Dave Matthews Band, integrated the melody into an outro on the band's song "The Dreaming Tree". Notable parodies include a song entitled "Vanilla Snow", also a spoof of a McDonald's commercial, a remixed version reminiscent of classic 8-bit video games on YouTube such as Mega Man 2, another 8-bit remix by Chiptune artist Epichunt featuring several added lead lines, a remix done by Joey Sun and a mashup of the song with Radiohead's "Talk Show Host." A parody on 2008 Republican Presidential candidate John McCain was made, as well as one of Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate in the same election.
Zonday himself appeared on the August 3, 2007 episode of VH1's Best Week Ever and performed a parody called "Summer Break". Alex Albrecht spoofed the song in a fake commercial for Nestlé in the podcast Diggnation. Tina Fey's character on 30 Rock referred to the character of Toofer as "Chocolate Rain" in the 2007 season premiere. Paul Reubens debuted a spoof educational film called Journey to Banana Land that beckoned Chocolate Rain when the narrator mentions cocoa trees. Zonday's Youtube video is used as Reubens sings along.
Zonday was featured in the music video for rock band Weezer's song "Pork and Beans", and appeared in a YouTube video with Weezer's Brian Bell to play an acoustic version of "Pork and Beans" on 3 June 2008.
On April 2, 2008, South Park aired the episode "Canada on Strike" that contained an appearance of Zonday talking about "Chocolate Rain", along with other internet memes. Zonday was killed at the end of this scene when a stare from the Dramatic Chipmunk caused his head to explode. The title of the hit was humorously manipulated in the phrase "get ready for some chocolate pain" within the episode. The episode brought back the video's popularity and boosted its views by over one million in the days following its airing. On the episode of The Office entitled "Business Ethics", Michael Scott confesses that when he discovered YouTube, he "watched Cookie Monster sings Chocolate Rain about a thousand times". This prompted the creation of several said videos a few days later.
Comedy.com made a video in November 2008 spoofing not only the song, but its status as a viral video. The video looked at how different directors, such as Quentin Tarantino, would have approached the making of the Chocolate Rain video.
On November 28, 2007, Zonday released a spoof/sequel to the song entitled "Cherry Chocolate Rain". The music video is professionally shot, and makes many allusions to the original song. The song makes fun of itself with its over-the-top visuals and mentions how Zonday was "paid a hefty, hefty fee" to do the video, as well as featuring professional rapper Mista Johnson who repeats "He moves his mouth away from the mic so he can breathe". The video and song were created as part of a promotional campaign for Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper.
The song and video are licensed under a Creative Commons by-nc-nd license. Although this license is not completely free, it has been suggested that the relative openness of the license has helped to encourage the song's spread. Creative Commons has praised Zonday specifically for this very reason. Zonday has expressed his own thoughts on the licensing situation on his MySpace blog, stating "I want nonprofit radio and small mom/pop cafes to be able to play my music for free. But I also want giant corporations who can afford to give me a dime or two to pay fair royalties."