In the annals of inadvertent viral humiliation, the Microsoft Songsmith ad falls squarely between Tay Zonday and the Numa Numa Guy–cringeworthy, but not permanently ruinous. In case you’ve missed this particular case of public humiliation, Songsmith is Microsoft’s new music-making software, a GarageBand-for-babies program that composes tinny background music as one sings along. And so far its major promotional effort has been a long, ridiculously goofy commercial, starring Microsoft scientists who sing–and so poorly that the video plays like satire. Unbelievably, it’s not.
You’ve gotta commend the effort–these guys wail with the earnest beseeching of Disney cartoon princes, peering with delight into their laptops (which are, apparently, MacBooks). Unfortunately, this only highlights that Microsoft’s idea of the future is still 1988, as those beats have all the sonic alchemy of a Teddy Ruxpin taped to a Casiotone, and the stilted acting of everyone involves only underscores Microsoft’s lumbering image next to sleek, shiny, my-phone-can-land-the-Concorde Apple. (My favorite parts is at 2:50 when the first consultant at the meeting, the schmuck who didn’t utilize this bravura technology, lectures about vague ‘demographics’ while gesturing emphatically at a blank wall. And then the beaming inventor sings about being trapped in the closet and towels or something, and lands the job and gets the girl.)
Making fun of this is kind of like clubbing a seal, because everyone involved clearly lacks self-awareness to a spectacular degree, which is why the video’s become a sensation on YouTube and the software is being used for entirely sarcastic reasons. But still, there is something wonderfully anarchistic about a song for music software that, on numerous occasions, can’t be bothered to rhyme–and something even more delightful about the wealth of hilarious Songsmith-spoofing remixes that’ve sprung up. Behold, the best three.
Oasis, “Wonderwall”: If Liam had to move this fast every day, how would the bints catch up?
Beastie Boys, “Intergalactic” : The gently wafting keys and soothing two-step tempo seem to portend what will happen when these scrappy boys accept their manhood–though they won’t before Backstreet, mark my words–and hunker down for the autumnal years in Florida.
And the winner:
Metallica, “Blackened”: A gold medal to ‘drphwoar’ for revealing the plaintive country riptide under James Hetfield’s roaring yawp, and setting it to hastily PhotoShopped images of the Dust Bowl. ‘Cuz what’s so funny about peace, love, and Lars in a cowboy hat? Um, everything. —Stacey Anderson
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 30, 2009