Day 224: The Internet Strikes Back – The Dancing Gummy Bear

originally published August 11, 2012

I’ll be honest. I knew I’d write a few of these articles about music. I’d hoped I’d either get the chance to pontificate self-indulgently on music I feel the rest of the world should enjoy as much as I do, or maybe if I was lucky I’d unearth a new find to fill the vacant corners of my iPod.

Instead, my subject today is a song called “I’m A Gummy Bear (The Gummy Bear Song)”. This was bad news from the moment Ms. Wiki cruelly stained the sanctity of my LCD screen with this title. For starters, the principle refrain of the song is “I am a gummy bear”, so what is the parenthetical portion of the title doing to clarify things here?

Now that I think about it, parenthetical song titles are almost always inane. The 1980s was full of them: does Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That” really need “(No Can Do)” to follow it? Did Lionel Richie need to tag “(All Night)” after the title “All Night Long”? Seriously, the lyrics uttered by the backup singers needed a spot in the title? What about Billy Ocean naming his song after the first and last lyrics of the chorus: “Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)”?

These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.

The Gummy Bear Song is a novelty dance number, as you may have guessed by the green special-needs bear that appears to be still-frame gyrating all over this article. Its entry in this category is dubious; whatever one’s particular penchant for novelty music – be it from Freberg, Stevens or Yankovic – this tune is inarguably terrible.

This is the video. If you happen to click on it, please be warned that you’re about to put yourself through some of the most aurally malodorous bile your stomach will ever have tried to tolerate. If this song were a disease it would be strep throat coupled with UPI (that’s Unexplainable Pus Implosion, for those of you not in the medical field). If it were an injured horse, you’d torture it for a few hours as payback before you put it down. This song may in fact be verifiable proof that, if there is a God, He has probably decided it’s time we destroy ourselves. This is the first attack.

The Youtube comments are remarkably tame, mostly coming from children who praise the song, who think the animated bear is cute, or who are knowingly giggling at the fact that the bear is clearly wearing only underwear. I have no problem with parents showing their children Youtube videos, but there is absolutely no way this song is healthy for a developing mind. I may not be a psychologist, but I pretended to be one in yesterday’s article, and my diagnosis for any parent who subjects their child to the Gummy Bear Song is immediate institutionalization.

Am I being too harsh? Too critical on a song that’s clearly meant to be a novelty, a joke, a cutesy diversion? Absolutely not. Let’s have a look at this seemingly ‘innocent’ content.

First we’ll put aside the music, hard as that may be. The gist of the lyrics are that the bear is a Gummy Bear. Think about that. If I was to put out a song – let’s say a country song – in which the majority of lyrics were “I am a white guy”, it would be scandalous. This song teaches children to assert the subcategory to which they belong and boast about it as though it were superior to all others. He calls himself a “yummy tummy funny lucky Gummy Bear.” Three of those four words are complimentary; the other one isn’t even an adjective and was clearly thrown in as a cheap rhyme.

Trust me parents, raise your children on Shostakovich and Prokofiev; let them know from a young age that the world is a somber and contemplative place, full of minor chords and disdainful oboes. Don’t encourage them to pretend to be semi-literate dancing confectionary. You may think you’re promoting creativity, but aren’t you just encouraging them to be one of the herd? A minion among minions?

German composer Christian Schneider wrote this musical monstrosity, demonstrating that the Germans have not completely given up on committing crimes against humanity. The thing might have wormed its way down the fetid drain of musical shame, but of course it became an Internet Meme, that horrid sub-class of time-wastery that has provided longevity to so many idiotic notions that should have just gone away.

The various videos – and people have translated this into 25 languages… let that soak in for the duration of this next hyphen – have received more than one billion hits on Youtube and Myspace.

One billion.

Right now, somewhere in your neighborhood, a kid in his teens is plunking out an original composition on his parents’ piano. Maybe another kid is trying out a fresh new song in his garage with his amateur band because the blood in their guts beats to the power of the art of music, and they want to devote their lives to it. Those kids will never receive a billion hits on their song.

The “band” that gets credit for releasing the song is called Gummibär. The humans behind this abomination of culture are never seen – the bear is the star. It got a record deal, of course – Gummibär released this single plus a cover of the sonic spew-bucket dance song “Blue (Da Ba Dee)”, probably because it featured parentheses. Since 2007, Gummibär has put out four albums.

For those of you keeping track, that’s one album for 60’s supergroup Blind Faith, featuring Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood and Ginger Baker, four albums for a stupid animated piece of candy.

Of course there have been merchandising opportunities – even an innocent tasty treat like Gummibär knows about synergy. There are shirts, DVDs, games and ringtones; the ringtones in particular were among the most popular downloads in the spring of 2009.

There are online mashups, live covers, a curious blending with the Chipmunks, and this version, played backwards. The video is annotated with what the lyrics sound like backwards, including such hidden backmasking gems as “I beat off”, “rape me like your mother” and “rape me like a Nazi, rape me like an owl.” I’m not making this up; it actually sounds like that.

If this is the future of our culture, I’m putting on my oversized headphones and tuning out to some old Allman Brothers. And for my internet meme entertainment, I’ll stick with the weird running horse.

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