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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.