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August 11, 2010 9:44 PM   Subscribe

Folk music, viral weirdness, and the Ballad of Steven Slater. Josh Millard, known to all and sundry here as cortex, analyses how The Ballad of Steven Slater written by Max Sparber, a.k.a. Astro Zombie, which cortex set to music and performed, went viral. How viral? Wolf Blitzer viral.
posted by Kattullus to MetaFilter-Related at 9:44 PM (124 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

WHAT? HOLY SHIT!
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:47 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aw, I'm just fucking with you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:49 PM on August 11, 2010


Good try, but cortex has exposed your savvy fellowness in his post!
posted by Kattullus at 9:51 PM on August 11, 2010


Needs moar ativan
posted by nola at 9:54 PM on August 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


This song was way better than anything I've heard in quite a while.

Of course I surf the internet while my kids watch Disney and Nick, so lately the only music I've heard is tween crap.
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:58 PM on August 11, 2010


You guys are my new "Hey you know those guys, i totally know those guys" line to seduce the sexy ladies at the big city discotheque where we do party dancing. Very sexy fresh.
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 PM on August 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


This song was rad. And I've been trying to make this post all day and getting hung up with other things. So YAY.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:07 PM on August 11, 2010


Grats guys!
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:19 PM on August 11, 2010


Of course I surf the internet while my kids watch Disney and Nick, so lately the only music I've heard is tween crap.

I once heard a Suicide Machines song on a Disney Channel show my little cousins were watching. I was slack-jawed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:20 PM on August 11, 2010


Pope Guilty: I once heard a Suicide Machines song on a Disney Channel show my little cousins were watching.

New Girl?
posted by Kattullus at 10:26 PM on August 11, 2010


It's absurd how much third wave ska gets played as background music on Japanese tv shows. I'm constantly annoying my wife by singing along to songs I haven't heard since college while she's trying to watch the show.

And kudos, Cortex and Astro Zombie. Any minute now your record deal will arrive.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:32 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love that Metafilter now has its own Lennon/McCartney.Great song, great story.
posted by The Gooch at 10:37 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


cortex, where exactly are you having breakfast these days? I'm pretty sure that you live about 5 blocks away from me, and that we are in a breakfast wasteland since Little Red Bike closed.
posted by janell at 10:44 PM on August 11, 2010


I live in Slater so this is making me uncomfortable.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:14 PM on August 11, 2010


There was an air steward named Slater
Who was asked to go fuck a tater
His response was a slide,
An astro-like glide,
To a hand from the media masturbators
posted by gnome de plume at 11:15 PM on August 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Nah, it was "Give". The light, undistorted bit looped as this kid was getting ready to leave for school in the morning, and then the main song kicked in as he left the house and jumped on a skateboard.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:27 PM on August 11, 2010


The awesomeness, it is AWESOME!
posted by scody at 11:48 PM on August 11, 2010


Previously seen on the sidebar on the front page.

You know, just in case.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:10 AM on August 12, 2010


Congrats, guys. Great job!

Also, I love the shot of the reporter awkwardly using the playground slide.
posted by brundlefly at 12:39 AM on August 12, 2010


Goddamn it! I just got home from drinking a beer on a playground slide. I wanna be on CNN!!!
posted by mannequito at 1:37 AM on August 12, 2010


I'm a little jealous that my Ballad of Josh Millard's Oddly Sized Stationery never hit the big time.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:17 AM on August 12, 2010


Yay! I'm finally ahead of the loop!
posted by twirlypen at 2:41 AM on August 12, 2010


There once was a steward called Slater,
Fed up with a mouthy berater,
He opened the door
Slid down, said "no more"
And swears he's never felt greater.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:03 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


There once was a steward named Slater,
And he was like "fuck this I've been listening to limericks for 28 years" and escaped down the inflatable slide.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:19 AM on August 12, 2010 [20 favorites]


I hope this means slides are making a comeback!

Also, can't wait for this month's podcast, whee!
posted by iamkimiam at 4:19 AM on August 12, 2010


Here it is, quoted in the Philadelphia Enquirer.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:21 AM on August 12, 2010


Okay, now the song's stuck in my head. Thanks. (It's not every day you get three new heros.)
posted by alms at 4:37 AM on August 12, 2010


From the link: One of my favorite people, mefite ColdChef

Hear that, you fucking assholes? I'm his favorite.
posted by ColdChef at 4:41 AM on August 12, 2010 [16 favorites]


I take if from that article that Jimmy Fallon sung a different song with the same title?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:41 AM on August 12, 2010


Some additional Web appearances:

On Urlesque.com: "A less profane Ballad of Steven Slater is by two guys called Astro Zombie and Cortex on Metafilter, and you can find it on this thread. There's no video (yet), but it's equally amazing. I especially dig Cortex's Ben-Folds-esque vocals."

The Sundance Channel's blog: "Over at Metafilter, one MeFite Astro Zombie penned “The Ballad of Steven Slater” which Josh Millard aka Cortex (a MeFi moderator) then put to song. It’s fantastic. I know pilot Captain Sully was the hero for 2009, but I don’t remember anyone writing a song about him."

Geekosystem: "Our favorite. MetaFilter users Astro Zombie (words) and cortex (arrangement) collaborated on this balladic celebration, which manages to rhyme 'Slater' with 'debate her,' 'inflater,' and (most impressively) 'circumnavigator.'"

Entertainment Weekly's Popwatch blog: "This one, with lyrics by Max Sparber and music by Josh Millard, packs a certain poetic punch I feel the Fallon version lacks."

Know Your Meme.

Some MN coverage thanks to me writing a press release:

Secrets of the City ; City Pages; LOL/OMG

I'm a just jot down where I see it pop up. If I miss any appearances of the song, let me know.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:47 AM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


So, guys, have you signed up with BMI yet???
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:54 AM on August 12, 2010


Oh yeah I see that now in Josh's article, never mind.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:55 AM on August 12, 2010


I'm sorry, but I grew up in South Jersey soooooooooo...

Here it is, quoted in the Philadelphia Enquirer Inquirer
FTFY

They generally do not write articles about bat boys or Elvis sightings, it is a real newspaper (with terribly useless movie reviewers).
posted by edbles at 5:31 AM on August 12, 2010


Weekly World News wrote about Bat Boy.

#pedantfight
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:44 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah? Well, the nerd store just called, and they are out of you guys!
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:54 AM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


I heard it on the radio today (in a news story about Slater) and was thinking "Huh, those lyrics remind me a lot of the song I read in that thread. What a coincidence!" This is pretty cool.
posted by liquorice at 5:55 AM on August 12, 2010


liquorice: I heard it on the radio today

In Australia?
posted by Kattullus at 6:08 AM on August 12, 2010


How viral? Wolf Blitzer viral.

/me stocks up on Tamiflu
posted by DU at 6:15 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


So wait, cortex gave Wolf Blitzer some kind of virus? Do I even want to ask how?
posted by Eideteker at 6:21 AM on August 12, 2010


Yes! Oh wow, I just found the link. But, um...it wasn't Astro Zombie and cortex's song. My bad. I clearly remembered that song incorrectly. Awkward. *tiptoes out of thread*
posted by liquorice at 6:21 AM on August 12, 2010


Needs video now. I'd make it but I'm on a train in the Midwest. Repeat: someone make video preferably using puppets.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:47 AM on August 12, 2010


I got back here via Daring Fireball. That must mean that Steven Slater is a Mac fanboi.
posted by alms at 6:55 AM on August 12, 2010


This is the coolest thing since matthewchen is spamming.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:25 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Congratulations, guys---Cortex, you might want to watch your back around that zombie fellow, I hear brains are their favorite food and they can be a bit stalky.
posted by effluvia at 7:38 AM on August 12, 2010


Kattullus: "How viral? Wolf Blitzer viral. "

And this is something to aspire to?
posted by Plutor at 7:53 AM on August 12, 2010


Of course it is. The dude's name is WOLF. I mean, come on, do I have to spell it out for you? A guy named Wolf talked about cortex and Astro Zombie on the TeeVee!
posted by edbles at 7:55 AM on August 12, 2010


Gotta say, once an earbug's gone "Wolf Blitzer viral", it's not really viral anymore. It's cancerous.

Congrats!
posted by notyou at 8:02 AM on August 12, 2010


I sort of hope that this eventually leads to some mudders building a statue to him out in the wastelands and renaming their camp "Slatertown".

Congrats guys!
posted by quin at 8:12 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always knew you guys were destined for greatness.
posted by InfidelZombie at 8:13 AM on August 12, 2010


Admit it, y'all updated your vitae's to list you were in the SITUATION ROOM.
posted by cavalier at 8:24 AM on August 12, 2010


Later in the day, cortex, Astro Zombie, and ColdChef went to the CNN studios, entered the Situation Room, dropped trou, and showed their bare bottoms.

That's right, it was a three-moon Wolf.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:25 AM on August 12, 2010 [15 favorites]


kudos!
posted by bukvich at 8:42 AM on August 12, 2010


I love a good laugh first thing in the morning! Thanks, Cortex and Astro Zombie.

As for the video, I think it needs clips of the pre-flight safety vids. Anyone got footage of one those emergency slides inflating?
posted by MuChao at 8:47 AM on August 12, 2010


Any actual video would have to be animation versions of those in-flight safety cards complete with a cartoon iconogram-cortex strumming in the background
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am very excited to see this video.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:51 AM on August 12, 2010


Passenger: Attendant Started Fray
posted by Burhanistan at 8:53 AM on August 12, 2010


A coworker sent me a link today to "The Ballad of Steven Slater" and I thought "Man, this is cool, I get to tell them 'Hey, I know the guy singing this, he's a friend of mine'", but no, when I clicked it, it turned out it was a link to some lame-ass Jimmy Fallon clip.

So then I was all "Hey, check out this version [link to cortex's site]" in an email, but then I go to cortex's site and realize I can't send it, because cortex has a potty-mouth and uses swears on his page which would offend my (Mormon) coworkers and now I'm sad because I can't even crow about my oh-so-tenuous link to semi-greatness.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:13 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am happier than ever that I never washed the hand I used to molest cortex when he passed out in desuetude's backyard after last year's Philly meet up.
posted by The Straightener at 9:20 AM on August 12, 2010


My only real regret at this point is not putting together at least a nominal video for it, but there just wasn't time. I have a simple silly idea that could be shot in about a day with a couple helpers, but real life is pretty busy (by my standards, at least) right now and I don't see that happening without me dropping a couple other balls that need to stay in the air.

cortex, where exactly are you having breakfast these days? I'm pretty sure that you live about 5 blocks away from me, and that we are in a breakfast wasteland since Little Red Bike closed.

Christie's. Truckstop breakfast stuff, it's not great but sometimes it's just what I need. Little Red Bike closing was a goddam shame, agreed.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:21 AM on August 12, 2010


Just heard it on the CBC!
posted by stray at 9:30 AM on August 12, 2010


SLATER
posted by inigo2 at 9:34 AM on August 12, 2010


This guy should do the video
posted by edgeways at 9:44 AM on August 12, 2010


Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Kattullus. I hardly ever check out MeMu, and I hadn't been following the Slater story much either (saw the headlines and maybe a very brief report, haven't looked at the details) so I haven't formed an opinion on whether Slater should be admired or condemned, but the song is outstanding. Well done, AZ & cortex.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:03 AM on August 12, 2010


Awesome, cortex and AZ!
posted by idest at 10:12 AM on August 12, 2010


So then I was all "Hey, check out this version [link to cortex's site]" in an email, but then I go to cortex's site and realize I can't send it, because cortex has a potty-mouth and uses swears on his page which would offend my (Mormon) coworkers and now I'm sad because I can't even crow about my oh-so-tenuous link to semi-greatness.

The MeMusic page for the song only has 3 fucks and zero shits out of 100 comments. You might be able to get away with linking to that.
posted by hippybear at 11:16 AM on August 12, 2010


3 fucks and zero shits out of 100 comments

Somebody's been out clubbing!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:21 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think beneath the tag sidebar, all mefi posts should have a fuck/shit count.


-o
posted by Eideteker at 11:32 AM on August 12, 2010


That's actually the Slater slider sidebar.
posted by effluvia at 11:42 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


3 fucks and zero shits out of 100 comments

For some reason I parsed this completely wrong, and spent several minutes long moments trying to figure out what the hell kind of new music ranking system had been put in place.
posted by quin at 11:45 AM on August 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


I am happier than ever that I never washed the hand I used to molest cortex when he passed out in desuetude's backyard after last year's Philly meet up.
posted by The Straightener at 11:20 AM on August 12 [+] [!]


Eeewww.
posted by nola at 11:47 AM on August 12, 2010


I am happier than ever that I never washed the hand I used to molest cortex when he passed out in desuetude's backyard after last year's Philly meet up.

How man-on-man passed-out molestation is somehow "straightening", I cannot begin to guess.
posted by hippybear at 12:07 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's kinda like the bald one being named Curly.
posted by jefeweiss at 12:14 PM on August 12, 2010


I'm just going to go ahead and pretend that Cortex left written instructions making the fondling consensual.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:16 PM on August 12, 2010


I'm digging this, but the "Young Devin Funck" song is still my favorite.
posted by gemmy at 12:29 PM on August 12, 2010


Hey congrats guys! This is cool fun stuff!
posted by snsranch at 12:33 PM on August 12, 2010


I'm just going to go ahead and pretend that Cortex left written instructions making the fondling consensual.

I was probably wearing a hand-sharpied t-shirt saying as much.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:36 PM on August 12, 2010


The Slater guy is just another selfish asshole. Astro Zombie and Cortex are the real heroes.
posted by Tenuki at 12:42 PM on August 12, 2010


I was probably wearing a hand-sharpied t-shirt saying as much.

Wait -- so you deserved it because of what you were wearing??

Meta! META!!
posted by inigo2 at 12:46 PM on August 12, 2010


Meta! META!!

Worst. Safeword. Ever.
posted by norm at 1:04 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


live outside Steven Slater's home in Queens, NY where his attorney is expected to read a statement on behalf of everyone's favorite flight attendant.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:15 PM on August 12, 2010


This makes me want to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.
posted by Decani at 1:20 PM on August 12, 2010


So Steven Slater = Jenny the white-board girl? Folks on plane claiming it didn't happen exactly as described.
posted by fixedgear at 1:24 PM on August 12, 2010


I sort of hope that this eventually leads to some mudders building a statue to him out in the wastelands and renaming their camp "Slatertown".

Heh. When I was reading the lyrics, "A man they call...Jayne!" popped right into my head.

Also, I was very impressed with the interesting words rhyming with "Slater."
posted by not that girl at 1:40 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


With all the media hubhub there is a slim chance this could turn into a new production of Chicago.
posted by The Whelk at 1:42 PM on August 12, 2010


Meta! META!!

Worst. Safeword. Ever.
posted by norm at 9:04 PM on August 12


Damn right. That's a totally terrible safeword. In fact, I normally use it to start a day-long festival of sado-masochistic flaying, bitter vindictiveness, futile injury and a gratuitous festival of hatemonstering spite sex with my partner. No other cue word could possibly be more appropriate. Frankly, I'm becoming semi-engorged just writing about it, which I acknowledge is more information than most of you would probably care for, but on the other hand.... Meta! META!

Ooh.
posted by Decani at 1:54 PM on August 12, 2010


Oh God, I said "festival"l twice. Then again, I have always enjoyed a good festival.
posted by Decani at 1:57 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wolf Blitzer? Americans get all the macho-sounding reindeer hybrids.

We have to put up with Dingo Dasher & Possum Prancer, and I'm reluctant to even mention Wombat Cupid.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:11 PM on August 12, 2010


> Frankly, I'm becoming semi-engorged just writing about it, which I acknowledge is more information than most of you would probably care for

Indeed. But you seem very proud of your keyboard diarrhea so whatever.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:28 PM on August 12, 2010


So if you do a video, you guys need a motion graphic production company logo. You can use this if you'd like:

A Sparber/Millard Joint

Or maybe

BeanPlate Productions

Or even

Blinktag Pictures Ltd.
posted by Mister_A at 2:44 PM on August 12, 2010


So can we get a Steven Slater: The Musical?
posted by empath at 2:58 PM on August 12, 2010


This will be a runway hit...
posted by Elmore at 4:20 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you'd been there ...if you've seen it, I bet you would've done the saaaaaaaaame.
posted by The Whelk at 4:44 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the coolest thing since matthewchen is spamming.

I'd almost forgotten about that. I wonder why somebody modly changed the last link in that post from the MeFi music post to a direct link to an mp3 on cortex's hosting, though. Huh.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:57 PM on August 12, 2010


advertising revenue.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:13 PM on August 12, 2010


Metafilter Music didn't actually exist when that went down, so self-hosting was the only thing to do. The song was however one of the first couple dozen to go up when Matt launched the subsite a few months later.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:30 PM on August 12, 2010


Huh, I guess I remembered wrong... I was certain as could be that it was on Music when you first posted it. All good, except that it's more damning evidence that my brain is ever-more-rapidly turning to mush.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:34 PM on August 12, 2010


It's okay, I know I forgot about that order-of-events in the interim at least once, and it's my damn song. I've just got a lot more timeline stuff in my head at this point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:41 PM on August 12, 2010


Listened to the song last night and have had pieces of it on my mind all day. Since it usually takes many repetitions before I can even recognize a new song I'd say that's a high metric of catchiness. Very cool, guys.
posted by yarrow at 6:00 PM on August 12, 2010


So cortex, when they call you to be on the Today Show will you shout out all of us by username?
posted by IndigoRain at 10:51 PM on August 12, 2010


You know it. Though I don't really see that happening—the meme seems to have crested already, and I don't know any television people so I there's been no massaging going on on that front.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:06 PM on August 12, 2010


Or adopt a fake European accent and ask for jonmc?
posted by arto at 11:09 PM on August 12, 2010


MUSIC VIDEO
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:45 AM on August 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


EXTENSIVE USE OF DRY ERASE MARKERS
posted by The Whelk at 10:46 AM on August 14, 2010


I was thinking it would end with stop motion male on male hardcore porn.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:48 AM on August 14, 2010


"I can dreeeeaaaaam ....can't I?"
posted by The Whelk at 11:55 AM on August 14, 2010


Also, this meme is good and goddamned dead now.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:55 AM on August 14, 2010


who appointed you chief of the memepatro-

oh.

Well these papers check out, carry on Officer.
posted by The Whelk at 11:58 AM on August 14, 2010


Everytime I hear the part where you sing:

"And the Flight attendant says, exit on the aisle..."

I want the next line to be:

"And the airline always says, we give service with a smile..."
posted by empath at 12:03 PM on August 14, 2010


I'm not one to say whether a meme lives or dies, so I shan't comment on that. I would like to say that what I appreciate about cortex's melody, and his video, is that, while we are certainly piggybacking on a funny bit of news, I think he caught that there's more to it than just to spoof current events, which is what I think a lot of the other ballads do.

I hadn't meant necessarily to write much more than a spoof, but, as he is written it, the first words to the song strike me as unexpectedly lonely and sad, and, funny as cortex's video is, seeing them handwritten on windows and pieces of paper just heightens that. I am pleased to have participated in the making of something more than a joke. I think we have made a song.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:27 PM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeh, that video is great. Nicely done!
posted by hippybear at 12:37 AM on August 15, 2010


Yay!
posted by slogger at 7:59 AM on August 15, 2010


"The Ballad Of Steven Slater"
A schmaltzy piano ballad that recalls the events that led up to the Slater's little boo-hoo moment. This little ditty manages to inadvertently combine the ridiculous earnestness of Journey with the bouncy pop of Ben Folds. Somehow, I don't see it holding up like Bob Dylan's "The Hurricane."

posted by Astro Zombie at 9:44 AM on August 15, 2010


Yeah, that guy really didn't like this whole phenomenon.

I'm not sure he knows what "inadvertently" means, though; he may be under the impression that music is what happens when people are like sleeping or doing their taxes or something and then they do a double-take and they're like WH-WHEN DID I WRITE THAT SONG AND WHY DOES IT SOUND LIKE PIANO POP
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:57 AM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I once accidentally knocked over a vase and when I finished cleaning it up I discovered I had coauthored "Hard For Me to Say I'm Sorry."
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:59 AM on August 15, 2010


That man seems to labor under the impression that likening someone to Journey is an insult when the very opposite is true.
posted by Kattullus at 10:27 AM on August 15, 2010


Don't Stop Believin'!
posted by empath at 10:33 AM on August 15, 2010


word
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:43 AM on August 15, 2010


"This little ditty manages to combine the ridiculous earnestness of Journey with the bouncy pop of Ben Folds" sounds like high praise to me. Well, yeah, that's the intent and you nailed it. Great work. Funny that he would say that as dismissive. I would quote it in the promotional material for the cassingle.
posted by team lowkey at 11:17 AM on August 15, 2010


*remember to buy hat is the best part
posted by edbles at 12:34 PM on August 15, 2010


Bat Boy Elvis as a concept is not without merit.
posted by y2karl at 2:59 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are You Blood-filled Tonight?
posted by The Whelk at 4:19 PM on August 15, 2010


I've been tracking various Slater-related songs as they've shown up over the last few days, and I collected them all in a new blog post.

Some are better than others. I think I find this lady's retiree rapping most charming.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:18 PM on August 16, 2010


OK, so I made the mistake of watching the video (clever, well-done, yada) and that solidified the lyrics in my head and now I have had this song on my mind for a full week. When a meme dies, who thinks of those left behind?

I think I'll go buy the new Arcade Fire album in the hopes that one of those songs will drive this one out.
posted by yarrow at 6:53 AM on August 19, 2010


I seriously have had this song stuck in my head on repeat. The only thing that has managed to give me a brief respite is my co-worker's Popcorn ringtone.
posted by empath at 7:50 AM on August 19, 2010


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