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Summary:

Tay Zonday, an elder of the viral video set, has once again capitalized on his “Chocolate Rain” fame, this time for TurboTax. His new original song “Freeloader Nation” hit YouTube (in HD, no less!) earlier this week, and I guess it’s supposed to get you excited […]

Tay Zonday, an elder of the viral video set, has once again capitalized on his “Chocolate Rain” fame, this time for TurboTax. His new original song “Freeloader Nation” hit YouTube (in HD, no less!) earlier this week, and I guess it’s supposed to get you excited about filling out your 1040 EZs, but after watching it, I just feel cheated.

To be fair, good for Zonday. This is the second time he’s parlayed his deep, velvety voice into commercial sponsorship, following last year’s “Cherry Chocolate Rain” spot for Dr. Pepper. But whereas the Dr. Pepper played on Zonday’s fame in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, “Freeloader Nation” just… sucks. It looks cheap (and not in the good, UGC kinda way) and it’s bound to diminish whatever “brand” Zonday had. And why is it so hard for him to lip sync to his own song? It’s like he doesn’t even know his own (nonsensical) lyrics.

The harsh lesson web stars seem to be learning is that it’s all fun and games when you’re on your own — but if you want to make money, those corporate dollars will neuter whatever made you popular in the first place. The Eepy Bird guys’ Sticky Note Experiments, while pretty, weren’t as explosive as Diet Coke and Mentos. So far, Judson Laipply’s “Evolution of Dance 2,” which now gets clearances for songs used, seems like more of the same, and ironically for Zonday, doing a spot for TurboTax makes it look like he’s just doing it for the money.

  1. Ah. Again, another critic who doesn’t know his subject matter too well. Tay Zonday also did a Turbo Tax rap contest way before he was famous so apparently he likes them. This is his third commercial venture not including voice work that he has done. He did one for Virgin Atlanic and YouTube live back in November. “I Can’t Believe it’s Not A Cash Gifting Scheme”. Tay Zonday’s “brand” is doing quite well and his professional life, I’m sure is much more than you gleen from YouTube. He’s now living in LA.

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  2. The song is great and kitchy. If you go to the website that he promotes in the video, it’s a cool program he’s doing with MySpace and Turbo Tax. That seems to be a big step up for the guy. Also, I searched and TurboTax has worked with Vanilla Ice (LOL!), Jay Mohr (Top 10 sitcom right now) and also pro-skateboarder and beer pong GOD Billy Marks. Seems the Turbo Tax guys know what they’re doing. Don’t be a hater Chris…the guy deserves credit as does a big brand like Turbo Tax willing to go out on a limb.

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  3. This seems to be a growing problem with the majority of YouTube “stars”. They’re so focused on making money that they’ve lost focus on why people wanted to watch them in the first place.

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  4. Excellent content here and a nice writing style too – keep up the great work!

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  5. Song is kind of boring. Chocolate Rain was catchy for a little while, but couldn’t sustain the whole song. When Tay Zonday performed it on Jimmy Kimmel, after a minute, it just became repetitive and the crowd didn’t even know what to do. It’s nice to see internet video producers cash in on their success, and he has the right to do what he wants, but we also have the right to call him out, if his s#!t is weak.

    Dennis Tzeng

    Dennis Tzeng

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  6. Song is kind of boring. Chocolate Rain was catchy for a little while, but couldn’t sustain the whole song. When Tay Zonday performed it on Jimmy Kimmel, after a minute, it just became repetitive and the crowd didn’t even know what to do. It’s nice to see internet video producers cash in on their success, and he has the right to do what he wants, but we also have the right to call him out, if his s#!t is weak.

    Dennis Tzeng

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  7. He had his whole life to come up with one brilliantly stupid, inane and catchy song, and less than a year to produce another. Youtube stardom is a fickle mistress.

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  8. Chris Albrecht Friday, January 9, 2009

    @tayfan2,

    Thanks for the update. Doesn’t change my opinion about the new song though. Or Zonday’s lip-syncing abilities.

    @Michael,

    You are right! But that can be said of artists in any medium. Sophomore slump and all.

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  9. This song is hot, and I am happy for Tay. Advertisers underwrite TV.. without it, there would be no TV. Pro athletes and A-list celebrities all have endorsements. Partners like Turbo Tax allow Tay to eat and live.. and more importantly create free content. Tay Zonday is an example of a business model that is working online when most people are still trying to figure it out.

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  10. @ Richard — BS. Sorry. If it werent for choc rain he wouldnt have had the exposure he’s getting. choco rain may have been enough to get him on leno once, but he’s gone.

    to say he’s proof of a solid business model, i can only further disagree. are you suggesting that if he offered to let you ‘invest’ in him, you would do so? please.

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