Does having your fans pick a fight with an artist paying homage to you work counterintuitively to PR plans?
I had to jump on the train at this early stage in case the song actually somehow becomes popular & people ask why I didn't defend / even address the craziness that happened yesterday, I'll have no excuse as a Boosh groupie.
Yesterday fans of the absurdist, surreal BBC comedy The Mighty Boosh erupted in confusion & accusations towards rapper T-Pain for seemingly stealing the idea for the primary lyrics in his new song with Benny Benassi, Electroman from a sketch & song featured in the show called Electro Boy.
THE OFFENDING CULPRIT - Benny Benassi ft. T-Pain's Electroman:
For those unfamiliar, The Might Boosh can be best described as an English Flight of The Conchords, soaked in LSD & glitter.
It is in essence the irreverent comedy duo of Noel Fielding & Julian Barratt, their slightly-autobiographical characters Vince Noir & Howard Moon noted for having adventures in oft nightmarish landscapes with characters of their own creation (including the now infamous hermaphrodite man-fish Old Gregg, made famous on YouTube, bringing the show to recognition stateside).
Lovers of the madness embrace it with a fervent Rocky Horror Picture Show-like fanaticism, dressing up like the eccentric and elaborate characters for live tour shows and comic conventions. I've enjoyed every minute of being a fan meself & could go on, BUT onward to the controversy...
The boys write all of their own music for the show, even having created a distinct style of humorous a cappella nonsense song attributed only to them known as a crimp. Crimp on.
There's always been very strong intellectual property rights associated with Boosh material, so it seemed unlikely that T-Pain would have no idea he was creating lyrics that sounded incredibly similar to a Mighty Boosh song.
Regardless, when the video appeared, the Booshiverse reacted strongly & with pointy, black-nail polished talons.
While the YouTube comments from Boosh fans on the video remained hilarious for the most part, there was an incredible amount of confusion as to why the bearded actor from Leeds and the fashion-savvy self proclaimed goth King of Camden would allow a rapper who's never been affiliated with them to not even sample their music, but to copy/parody the concept.
I've heard everything sampled in remixes from Singing In The Rain to Johnny Cash's I Walk The Line, but this seemed to be an outright "homage" situation.
The lyrics are nearly identical.
Case in point -
THE BOOSH'S Electro Boy:
CRYSTAL MOCASSINS, BIONIC CHEESE, y'all
So far, both sides have weighed in & it seems like everything is legit:
From T-Pain's twitter:
If you guys don't think I got permission from the Mighty Boosh before I did the electro man hook ur crazy. It's called being a fan of there music. The Mighty Boosh heard that song before any of you did so I think they would have sued me by now. But I understand how you feel yasimelike. Just do Yo research before you go ham on a n*gga
From Dave Brown's twitter soon after:
(Dave Brown is the graphic designer, photographer, fellow writer & co-star of the show as Bollo the gorilla. If Bollo didn't say he had a bad feeling about this, I'm bound to believe him... (N&J refers lovingly to creators Noel & Julian) )
You may ask "Why, T-Pain, with your fly hats & shiny teeth, would you want to put Boosh-esque lyrics into a song?"
T-Pain has already been associated with The Lonely Island, SNL-offshoot funny man Andy Samberg's musical project that produced the monster hit I'm On A Boat. He's established himself as crazy.
He says he's a fan. I'd buy that.
There are stirrings however that if more "popular", or main stream sources start parodying or using Boosh material that the underground glow that the show still has here in North America will quickly fade & their impending US invasion in the next year will lose it's sparkle.
To that same effect, there's an ongoing rumour of a Boosh movie that they'll want released in the US & Canada. What better way to get preliminary press than by having their material slip into North American media.
Fans still argue that the Boosh won't get credit where credit is due. It's hard to recognize what the hubbub is about unless you know all the words to Electro Boy by heart
Is this the inevitable fate of cult hits that become popular?
Do you accept their inevitable leaking into rap songs & TV shows and hope for the best?
My solution for this conundrum at least would have been for T-Pain to at least give the boys a nod.
An easy implementation of this would have been to have had them in the video.
Ju would have worn the swag well,
as a man who loves jazz & looks like a geography school teacher.
Noel Fielding in a white bikini? Anyone? Anyone?
Whether or not The Mighty Boosh are ever recognized for their contribution to the song, it's far less catchy than the original & the issue may blow over by week's end.
Hopefully it garners them some well deserved press but doesn't spoil the magic hipster touch that they have going for them.
NEXT BIG HIT FOR T-PAIN: I'm On A Boat w/ Future Sailors.
EDIT: As of 1:00 PM, CST
Noel Fielding has chimed in on the debate:
Noelio is busy preparing for Let's Dance 2011 For Comic Relief on BBC.
Ultimate goal: NOEL DOES DANCE NUMBER TO Electroman.
Driving along on a plastic dream, baby.