May 16, 2019
Todd plays "Earth" on the piano
LIL DICKY - EARTH
A pop song review
Todd: Ah, let's do this.
Clip from The Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2013Todd (VO): If I can tell you one thing from my years of experience on YouTube, it's this: Being funny is really hard.
Todd: I'm lucky, 'cause making videos of witty commentary about popular music is a pretty unique niche.
Todd (VO): And I'm never gonna be famous doing this. But I would never make it doing something that is actually like 100% comedy, like a stand-up or an actor or writer. [clip from Last Comic Standing] The competition's just way too fierce. The dues you have to pay, and the work you have to do honing your craft to stand out and make it big in those fields. It just boggles my mind. In fact, the only thing I can think of harder than being a comedian...
Todd: ...is being a musical comedian.
Clip of Bo Burnham - "Repeat Stuff"
Bo Burnham: I love your hair, I love your name, I love the way...Todd (VO): Now you gotta be good at two things! No, now you gotta be great at two extremely difficult things. You have to perfect your craft as a songwriter and at the same time write decent jokes. And a song is meant to be re-listened to so your jokes still have to be funny several plays later. It's actually kind of a "worst of both worlds" scenario, because you're still competing with every YouTube parodist trying to go viral. [clip of Tenacious D performance] Not to mention every other outlet for comedy that exists. But at the same time, there's no path to stardom. There's no mainstream market for comedy music like there is for stand-up. [clip of Weird Al performance] You're lucky to get one song that people like and you'll be included in some Dr. Demento compilations at best. [clip of The Lonely Island - "Jizz In My Pants"] So anyone who has made an actual name for themselves as a musical comedian, you can rest assured that they are probably one of the most talented people you will ever meet.
Todd: [beat] And then there's Lil Dicky.
Clip of Lil Dicky - "Ex-Boyfriend"
Lil Dicky: Head is amazing
Got my dick looking like a raisinTodd (VO): Lil Dicky writes a lot of jokes about having a small penis. In fact, [image of Lil Dicky holding racks of cash] his rap name itself is a joke about him having a small penis. [brief shots of Lil Dicky holding up fingers to show...] If you search for photos of him, his go-to pose is a hand gesture indicating that he has a small penis. He does this a lot. A lot a lot. To the point where it's fair to speculate that this is a humiliation fetish of some kind. Because he will not give up this joke. Look! [chuckles]
Todd: He has a small penis!
Clip of Lil Dicky ft. Chris Brown - "Freaky Friday"
Chris Brown: I woke up Chris BreezyTodd (VO): Dicky finally jumped to mainstream success last year off the strength of "Freaky Friday", a single where he switches bodies with Chris Brown.
Lil Dicky: I woke up and I'm Lil DickyNow I had many issues with it because it's tasteless, and gross, and tired, and lame, and just very, very stupid and sad.
Todd: But there was just one issue I had that...really just kind of puzzled me.
Todd (VO): He ramps up the joke at the end by switching bodies with all sorts of music stars: Ed Sheeran, DJ Khaled, and then...
Kendall Jenner: I'm Kendall JennerTodd: ...Kendall Jenner?
Todd (VO): Kendall Jenner is not a singer. That doesn't fit the joke. Why include her? At the time I figured that no actual musician was...
Todd: ...willing to humiliate herself and sing that gross masturbation joke.
Kendall: Holy shit, I got a vaginaTodd (VO): I now realize...
Todd: ...this was extremely naïve of me.
Montage clips from FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never HappenedTodd (VO): I had this realization after watching those Fyre Fest documentaries, you saw those right? Fyre Fest was a hilarious logistical failure. But it was only able to be that big a failure because it was such a marketing success. Many social media influencers were part of that, but the biggest was Kendall Jenner who, I realized, is probably the most powerful salesman in the world. Now that...
Todd: ...Oprah's retired at least. And she does not come cheap.
Gabrielle Bluestone: Kendall Jenner was paid I think $250,000 by wire transferTodd (VO): I don't know how or [clip of "Freaky Friday"] at what cost Dicky produced Kendall Jenner's involvement, but...
Todd: ...it clearly took quite a bit of marketing savvy to pull that off.
Video for "Freaky Friday"Todd (VO): And even though "Freaky Friday" is lazy and bad, I realize now how much investment Dicky put into making it his breakthrough. Not only getting Chris Brown and Kendall Jenner, but also getting DJ Mustard to make the beat.
DJ Mustard: Mustard on the beat, hoTodd: That's huge!
Video for Lil Dicky ft. Fetty Wap & Rich Homie Quan - "$ave Dat Money"Todd (VO): And actually, he's been really good at pulling off stuff like this. For his first album alone, he had Fetty Wap, [clips of "Professional Rapper"...] Snoop Dogg, [...and "Molly"] Brendon Urie. How? He was nobody.
Todd: Maybe he's secretly rich...or has blackmail photos. [brief clip of "$ave Dat Money"] Whatever it is, he's clearly got a real talent for self-promotion. In fact, [shot of article: "How Copywriter David Burd Became Rap Star (and Hilarious Trojan Man) Lil Dicky"] Dicky himself comes from advertising!
Video for "Professional Rapper"Todd (VO): It's central to the mythos he's built up for himself such as it is. He quit his day job in advertising to pursue music. He clearly knows his shit when it comes to marketing.
Todd: [beat; inhales deeply] I wanna be careful here, 'cause I'm not trying to shit on marketing or working with big name collaborators. Marketing is important. [image of various music paraphernalia] Every good successful artist has good marketing. And hip hop is a collaborative medium, parody or otherwise. [brief clip of DJ Mustard working in the studio] Why wouldn't you want to work with the best producers? But...there's a clear and obvious difference between...
Video for "$ave Dat Money"Todd (VO): ...Lil Dicky and his collaborators vs. [clip of The Lonely Island ft. Justin Timberlake - "Dick In a Box"] The Lonely Island working with Justin Timberlake. That clearly comes from mutual admiration; Justin loves doin' it.
Todd: One of Dicky's best jokes, meanwhile, is he got...
Video for "$ave Dat Money"Todd (VO): ...Rich Homie Quan to make an appearance, but couldn't get him to write a real verse.
Rich Homie Quan: Baby without no hiccup
Lil Dicky: Quan what's this have to do with saving money though?
You know what, a full verse would have been too expensive anyways.He made it work, but he kinda gave the game away. [clip of...] As did Kendall Jenner being on "Freaky Friday" despite not really making any sense or being funny.
Todd (VO): His entire career stinks of Astroturf; promotion tactics that don't seem in proportion to his level of fame, fandom, talent or respect from his peers.
Todd: And in fact [screen captures of Hip Hop Heads subreddit] his music was banned from Reddit's hip hop forum for vote manipulation. That's true! [...and Lil Dicky's posts on the same page] The forum mods said he was inflating his vote count against their rules, so they banned him and his music. Dicky claims it was an honest misunderstanding, and it's not clear what exactly happened there but it fits a pattern that just rubs me the wrong way. [clip of Lil Dicky on Jimmy Kimmel Live!] Much like Fyre Fest, Lil Dicky's entire existence seems powered by false advertising.
Video for Lil Dicky - "Earth" startsTodd (VO): Which brings us to Lil Dicky's newest song, "Earth"...
Todd: ...the Fyre Fest of music.
Video for "Freaky Friday"Todd (VO): You see, Lil Dicky may have a stunning ability to rope in collaborators.
Todd: But you know what's a sure fire way to get a bunch of celebrities in the same room?
Clip of "We Are the World"
Lionel Richie: There comes a time
When we heed a certain callTodd: Yes, the charity single.
Todd (VO): See celebrities love these, 'cause you get to make public appearances and promote yourself while feeling good about helping people at the same time.
Todd: Now, I guarantee you that Dicky decided to do a charity song because he could build it around his primary talent, which is networking.
Clip of ET report on "Earth" with featured celebrities at promo eventTodd (VO): And network he did. He got together a stunning array of music's biggest stars, a cavalcade of celebrities equivalent to [images of...] Woodstock, Live Aid, and the H-Bomber Donkey Kong stream combined. I mean, Jesus Christ, look at the star power here! [clip of "Earth"] And a very pretty animated video to go with it. Check out those production values. Look at that. There's only one real problem.
Todd: Now that you've got all the celebrities together...what do you do with them?
Video for "Do They Know It's Christmas?"Todd (VO): OK, here's the thing: This kind of earnest, packed-with-celebrities charity single, like even the good ones, they are such pompous, self-impressed acts of hubris. And even three decades after they were a thing...
Todd: ...they are still prime material for parodying.
Todd (VO): I never, ever get tired of "We Are the World" spoofs. [clip of "I'm Fucking Ben Affleck" from Jimmy Kimmel Live!] Charity parodies, love 'em. Never stop makin' 'em. But, here's the thing.
Todd: This isn't a parody charity song. It's a real charity song. Charity sincerity. [shot of "Earth" video on YouTube with description circled] With a sincere message about global warming and all the proceeds are going to fighting climate change.
Clip of "Earth"
Lil Dicky: In fact, the profits that come along with the streams and the sale of this song are going right into the Earth. Let’s raise some money for charity.Todd (VO): But it's a Lil Dicky song, so...it has to be funny. Is it even possible to thread that needle?
Todd: [pause] Well, yeah!
Clip of Bill Nye on Last Week Tonight with John OliverTodd (VO): John Oliver did a funny, but serious bit about climate change just this week. [clip of "Earth"] So, it's doable if you find the right idea for it.
Todd: [beat] Lil Dicky does not have the right idea. Lil Dicky does not have an idea.
Video for...Todd (VO): Say what you want about "Freaky Friday", it had a good solid premise. You knew what the basic joke was. [clip of...] On the song "Earth", you can feel Dicky desperately flailing, covered in flop sweat, trying to figure out the reason for why he gathered all these celebrities together.
Todd: And what he came up with is...ah, I guess it's a parody of environmental songs?
Video for Vanessa Williams - "Colors of the Wind"
Vanessa Williams: Come run the hidden pine trails of the forestTodd (VO): I-I kinda remember that was a thing back in the early 90s. [clips from Captain Planet...] Like, back when it seemed like every cartoon was trying to get you to save the rainforest. [...and Ferngully] There were movies, and shows. I guess it did cross over a little into music. [clip of "Earth Song" by...] I remember the late Michael Jackson, may he, uh...
Todd: [pause] Well we're not gonna go there.
Todd (VO): But he was very big into this kind of song. But that's like a different genre than, like, the "We Are the World" parodies, so...
Todd: ...What do the celebrities do?
Video for "Earth"Todd (VO): What I guess Dicky eventually came up with is...that they would all take turns pretending to be one of the majestic creatures on God's green Earth.
Todd: And the joke? Well...
Todd (VO): What if they played cute lil' animals...
Justin Bieber: Hi, I'm a baboonBut get this.
Todd: They say foul, gross things.
Justin: I'm like a man, just less advanced and my anus is hugeTodd (VO): That's the joke.
Todd: See, it's actually a joke on multiple levels.
Clip of "Earth"; baboon clip plays on repeat as Todd talksTodd (VO): Because one: That cute cartoon monkey just said "anus". That's not cute at all.
Todd: But also two: The monkey is [shot of "Earth" credits with...] played by Justin Bieber, so Justin Bieber also said "anus"! See there are layers to this.
Brendon Urie: I'm a fat fucking pig
Hailee Steinfeld: I'm a common fungusTodd (VO): Haha, that pig said "fuck". Good, solid joke there.
Todd: It took Dicky weeks to get the wording right, I'm sure.
Zac Brown: How's it going? I'm a cow (Moo!)
You drink milk from my titsTodd (VO): And that's the entire joke! Cute animal says uncute thing.
Todd: You may remember this joke from [image of...] Happy Bunny, the delight of Hot Topic in the early 2000s. Or from [clips of...] South Park, Family Guy or any of their less-inspired rip offs.
Clip of "Earth"
Miley Cyrus: I'm an elephant, I got junk in my trunkTodd: Oh and puns.
Shawn Mendes: We're just some rhinos, horny as heckTodd (VO): Get it, horny? 'Cause he's a rhino?
Todd: Like, these are jokes you'd hear from your [image of...] classmate in third grade who had family issues. He doesn't even set up his one joke!
Todd (VO): Like, he's not subverting anything, 'cause it starts right away with a distended anus! And the song doesn't get more intense like a joke is supposed to do either.
Todd: Like, when I say [air quote] "that's the joke", I make it sound like he has one consistent joke, but he can't even hit that one note!
Todd (VO): Some of these animals have no joke at all!
Charlie Puth: I'm just a giraffe, what's with this neck?Todd: [deep in thought; taps piano] Joke about a giraffe...[starts writing...] "I'm a giraffe, what's with this neck?" Who are the ad wizards that came up with this?
Snoop Dogg: I'm a marijuana plant, I can get you fucked upTodd (VO): OK, fine. There are other jokes.
Todd: Some of the jokes get, you know, a little charge out of the celebrities doing them.
Lil Jon: What the fuck? I'm a clam!Todd: But a lot of his line-up...
Todd (VO): ...he has no clue what to do with. Katy Perry is a pony. So? The point is what?
Todd: I guess Ariana's line might be a joke at her expense.
Ariana Grande: I look pretty cool
Am I white or black?Todd: Heh heh. [image of...] Ariana Grande asking if she's white or black.
Todd (VO): That could be a sharp joke at Ariana's expense, but I'm pretty sure it was accidental.
Todd: Lil Dicky is not going to insult his featured artists like that, 'cause he's an eternal star-fucker.
Sia: Hippity-hop, I'm a kangaroo
I hop all day up and down with youTodd (VO): See wh-what was that?! There wasn't even an attempt at comedy there! Sia's a kangaroo.
Todd: She hops...and?!
Todd (VO): Could you not get Sia to sing the word "vagina", or whatever hack joke you had there? Why am I even listening to this if you can't even pretend to be funny?!
Todd: It's not for the music!
Todd (VO): Yeah, that's another problem: The song, just as music, sucks!
Todd: Again, I'm gonna have to praise "Freaky Friday"...I've had nightmares like this. But, comparatively...
Video for "Freaky Friday"Todd (VO): ...I have to praise "Freaky Friday" 'cause that DJ Mustard beat was pretty sweet and the hook was pretty solid!
Todd: You could listen to it multiple times.
Video for "Earth"Todd (VO): Now I'll give this much to Dicky and his producers. "Earth" does actually sound like those [clip of Boyzone - "A Different Beat"] windswept message songs from the '80s and '90s. But those blew.
Todd: And this does also.
Video for "Earth"Todd (VO): I listen to bad music for a living, and I struggle to listen to this song past the second minute. [shot of chorus lyrics on Genius] Look at these lyrics. This is not a hook! He shat this out in five seconds!
Todd: Now, according to Dicky...
Clip of Lil Dicky on The Ellen DeGeneres ShowTodd (VO): ...his original idea was just to have a bunch of celebrities play animals. It's not clear why he wanted that since he never came up with a premise, but he did say he didn't conceive it as a message song or charity song until later. And that was probably because it was the only way to actually get that many famous people involved.
Todd: But that shift to being a message song has completely thrown him.
Video for "Earth"Todd (VO): 'Cause at the end of this, he's still gonna give you a serious and important message about climate change and ask you to donate.
Todd: There is a deeper, probably unintentional, joke to this song besides just cursing animals.
Todd (VO): See...environmentalists want us to save the animals...
Todd: ...but animals, are disgusting.
Todd (VO): They fuck, they shit everywhere, they kill each other mindlessly because they're dumb animals. [clip of...] It's kinda like that one episode of South Park, and they had the decency to do it back when all this rainforest shit was in the pop culture zeitgeist.
Cast of South Park: There's a place called the rainforest that truly sucks ass!
Let's knock it all down and get rid of it fast!And yeah, maybe South Park and its mindless contrarianism haven't aged well.
Todd: But at least they understood their own joke! They didn't somehow miss that they were insulting the rainforest for 20 minutes!
Clip of "Earth"
Lil Yachty: I'm HPVTodd (VO): Protect the Earth so we can save the STDs?!
Todd: What do you think you're saying?! If I had to guess the message of this song it'd be "Fuck the environment, let it all die."
Todd (VO): Like, the only solid laugh I got out of it was this part.
Snoop Dogg: I'm a marijuana plant, I can get you fucked up
Kevin Hart: And I'm Kanye WestHeh. That was kinda funny.
Todd: Like, getting Kevin Hart to voice "I'm Kanye West"...
Todd (VO): ...is so stupid and random you have to laugh.
Todd: Like, Dicky did in fact write that for Kanye, he's admitted that. And he just couldn't get him. [clips of "$ave Dat Money"] Just like the Rich Homie Quan verse, the only good joke [...and "Earth"] came from him covering for his failure to make a joke that made sense. Like a good comedian could have made that joke intentionally but Dicky is just not that bright.
Meghan Trainor: We love you India!
Joel Embiid: We love you Africa!Todd (VO): What are we not even doing animals anymore?
Todd: What is this song?
Tory Lanez: We love the Chinese!
Lil Dicky: We forgive you Germany!Todd (VO): Are you fucking kidding me?!
Todd: I'm-I'm not even going into that one.
Lil Dicky: I'm a manTodd (VO): Oh, and I guess Dicky finally has to show up and do something.
Todd: Like, I don't think it's a coincidence that both...
Video for...Todd (VO): ..."Freaky Friday" and this hold off on Lil Dicky until like the third minute. You know, don't wanna...
Todd: ...scare everyone away! Gotta hook 'em in first.
Lil Dicky: I've trudged the Earth for so damn longTodd stares on in confusion
Lil Dicky: I hope it's not a simulation (Huh)
Give each other names like Ahmed and Pedro
And, yeah, we like to wear clothes and girls still look beautiful
And it covers up our human dick (Woo), eat a lotta tuna fishTodd: [beat] So...is the joke that Lil Dicky is an idiot who has nothing to say, and no idea what he's talking about, and badly struggling to fill time...or is that just literally what's actually happening?
Lil Dicky: Like, let's all just chill (Hey), respect what we built (Hey)
Like look at the internet! It's cracking as hellTodd (VO): This thing stinks of a rush job. Of Dicky struggling to meet his Earth Day deadline, so he's just...
Todd: ...rambling in the hopes that one of his freestyles resembles a joke.
Todd (VO): He raps like a kid bullshitting through a presentation on a book he didn't read.
Todd: In conclusion, Earth is a land of contrasts.
Lil Dicky: Fellas, don't you love to cum when you have sex? (Ayy)
And I heard that women orgasms are better than a dick's (Uh)Todd (VO): DO YOU LITERALLY HAVE NO MATERIAL BUT DICKS?!
Todd: GET A SECOND TOPIC!
Todd (VO): Like, this whole endeavor is just the most half-assed thing I've ever seen. It is a climate change-level disaster.
Lil Dicky: Any words, Leo?
Leonardo DiCaprio: This might be my favorite song everDon't say that DiCaprio.
Todd: I know you've heard better music than this. [clip of DiCaprio in...] That fucking thing McConaughey was doing in Wolf of Wall Street was better music than this.
Video for "Earth"Todd (VO): You know, DiCaprio's doing this because his foundation is behind the song, you know it's for a good cause.
Todd: I mean, yeah, that's important.
Clip of CSBN broadcastTodd (VO): Like just in the couple weeks since this song came out, there was another goddamn report about how we're even more fucked than previously thought and we should probably do something about it. [clip of "Earth"] So if Lil Dicky puts even the tiniest dent of progress into the world, surely this...embarrassing act of anti-comedy was worth it, right? A friend reminded me that I...
Todd: ...once said "insincere charity is better than sincere apathy." [pause] Well, you know what? I'm not so sure about that anymore!
Clips of...Todd (VO): I said that way back in the day about that terrible "We Are the World" remake for Haiti. And back then, I was also like, "Well you know the music's bad but it's for a good cause."
Todd: But you know who actually got the money for that song? [image of...] The Red Cross, [shot of article: "Red Cross Built Exactly 6 Homes For Haiti With Nearly Half A Billion Dollars In Donations"] who did diddly-dick with it, and Wyclef Jean's charity, which we know now to be a complete fucking scam! So maybe, that actually was worse than apathy!
Video for "Earth"Todd (VO): I'm not saying DiCaprio's working a scam here, but I'm not necessarily going to give this song credit for helping the environment either. 'Cause how much money is this gonna raise? I know it's customary for artists to work for free on charity singles but, how about that animation? That's pretty high-grade stuff, I doubt the animators worked for free! They have to eat! How much is left after they get paid? A charity single is...
Todd: ...in itself, kind of a bad way to raise money! 'Cause there's no money in music anymore!
Clip of "We Are the World"Todd (VO): It's not the '80s! No one pays twenty bucks for an album! No one pays anything! [clip of "Earth"] They could probably make more donating the animators' salary directly. 'Cause...
Todd: ...this song isn't doing that well. [shot of "Earth" dropping positions on recent Hot 100 chart] In the couple of weeks it took me to write and edit this video, this song has already plummeted quicker than the precious biodiversity of our threatened mother Earth.
Video for...Todd (VO): As opposed to "Freaky Friday", which...lingered quite a bit in the Top 10
Video for "Earth"All those talented people, working on this? What a waste.
Todd: It's such a waste of energy, it probably dumped [image of coal plant] two million pounds of carbon into the atmosphere just on its own!
Video for "Ex-Boyfriend"Todd (VO): But there was some sign early in Dicky's career that he was going to be an actual rapper who happened to be funny, like Macklemore or Big Sean.
Todd: He could have turned out to be more than a novelty artist. Instead, he's turned out to be less.
Video for "Earth"Todd (VO): He's slowly turning into the DJ Khaled of comedy rap. Someone who doesn't do anything but connect other artists. In...
Todd: ...fact, it'd probably be better if he did actually do that, 'cause he clearly doesn't have any jokes left. He's...
Todd (VO): ...got nothin'. So...just be DJ Khaled, get [clip of "Freaky Friday"] other people to do everything and shout a catchphrase right at the beginning.
Todd: You know, it could be you know like, "We the funniest music!" Or right at the beginning you could shout, "I have a small penis!" Ha ha ha. By the way, all proceeds from this video are being [text appears: THE FOUNDATION TO FIND LIL DICKY OTHER JOKES] donated to charity. Donate now so that we can all buy Dicky a second joke. [more text appears: Give Today!]
Gets up and leaves
Clip of "Earth"
Lil Dicky: Wow. Thanks, Leo.Closing Tag Song: Captain Planet Theme
"Earth" is owned by Dirty Burd Inc.
This video is owned by me
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!