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Who is Tay Zonday?


If the name Tay Zonday doesn't mean anything to you, it's probably because you have managed to escape the latest viral-video fad sweeping the Interweb: the musical stylings of a young singer who has become a YouTube sensation after uploading a homemade video clip of himself singing a bizarre tune called Chocolate Rain -- which I have embedded here for your enjoyment and/or puzzlement.




Like many recent viral explosions of Internet weirdness -- including the "lolcatz" phenomenon -- Zonday arose from a site known as 4chan.org (Warning: Some content is for adults only). However he arrived on the scene, Tay's version of his signature tune has gotten more than 5 million views on YouTube, and has spawned imitators and tribute videos galore -- including one by Green Day drummer Tre Cool and another by popular singer John Mayer.

Part of what has drawn so much attention is the somewhat inscrutable lyrics of the song, which appear to have something to do with racism (one of Zonday's parents is reportedly black), as well as the deep baritone the singer uses -- which he says is natural, but seems at odds with his youthful appearance -- and his somewhat unusual method of taking breaths between words.

So who is Tay Zonday? According to several interviews, including one in the Toronto Star, Zonday's real name is Adam Bahner, and he is a 25-year-old student in American Studies at the University of Minnesota who writes music in his spare time, but until recently had never performed in public. He has since shown up on both the Opie and Anthony radio show on XM Satellite Radio and on the Jimmy Kimmel TV show.

And now, he is the current heir to the throne established by previous alternative heroes, including William "She Bangs" Hung from American Idol and YouTube performer Gary Brolsma, also known as the "Numa Numa guy."

Isn't the Internet great?


  1. Jim Bullington from United States writes: Opie and Anthony are on XM.
  2. Mathew Ingram from Canada writes: Damn. Thanks, Jim.
  3. Rob Howell from Summerside, PEI, Canada writes: I'm not quite sure what's weirder - the video itself, or seeing 4chan linked in the Globe.
  4. Richard Noronha from Mississauga, Canada writes: Matthew,

    I always enjoy reading your column but this has to be a first. The fact you are writing about a meaningless youtube upload that has had 5 million views suggests to me that you had run out of real news worthy stories.

    Its obvious American talk shows enjoy promoting people who can't sing. In Canada we call that Canadian Idol.
  5. Voxana ACIDplanet from Madison, United States writes: Tay Zonday's "Chocolate Rain" has been covered by John Mayer, featured on Jimmy Kimmel and has now landed at ACIDplanet.com. This is your chance to join the internet sensation that Tay started with his YouTube video of his original song!

    Come and remix "Chocolate Rain"
    http://www.acidplanet.com/contests/tayzonday
  6. Mathew Ingram from Canada writes: Richard, I'm sorry to have disappointed you. I guess my view of what is "news-worthy" is somewhat broader than you might like :-)

    To me, the fact that the clip has been viewed five million times by definition makes it meaningful, in some sense at least. Not as meaningful as the war in Iraq perhaps, but still worthy of note.

    Mathew
  7. Dog Curtains from Canada writes: A link to 4chan /and/ ED? What has science done?
  8. Russ Teatraumbowen from Tisdale, Canada writes: Yup, this Zonday thing has reached epic proportions:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXKhIFitfWs
    I sure hope it's paying his tuition.
  9. Edward Baker from Sonora, United States writes: I would like to point out that your warning next to the 4chan link is not strong enough at all. 4chan is a thing that can scar the unprepared mind, regardless of whether you're an adult or not. Proceed with all possible caution if you're foolish enough to go there.

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Ingram 2.0

Mathew Ingram is the Communities Editor at the Globe and Mail, and this is where he writes about things the Globe is doing to connect with readers online, and the interaction between the Web and media in general. Feel free to send him an email at mingram@globeandmail.com if you come across an interesting link, or post a comment and join in the discussion.

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    	at GIS.Servlets.StoryHTMLTemplate.doGet(StoryHTMLTemplate.java:96)
    	at javax.servlet.http.HttpServlet.service(HttpServlet.java:126)
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    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.generate(HTMLTemplateParser.java:945)
    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.generate(HTMLTemplateParser.java:782)
    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.parse(HTMLTemplateParser.java:751)
    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.generate(HTMLTemplateParser.java:476)
    	at GIS.Servlets.HTMLTemplate.generate(HTMLTemplate.java:316)
    	at GIS.Servlets.HTMLTemplate.processRequest(HTMLTemplate.java:222)
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    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.parse(HTMLTemplateParser.java:751)
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    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.generate(HTMLTemplateParser.java:945)
    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.generate(HTMLTemplateParser.java:782)
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    	at GIS.Servlets.HTMLTemplate.generate(HTMLTemplate.java:316)
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    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.generate(HTMLTemplateParser.java:476)
    	at GIS.Servlets.HTMLTemplate.generate(HTMLTemplate.java:316)
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    	at com.caucho.xsl.AbstractStylesheetFactory.newTransformer(AbstractStylesheetFactory.java:312)
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    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.parse(HTMLTemplateParser.java:751)
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    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.generate(HTMLTemplateParser.java:1502)
    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.generate(HTMLTemplateParser.java:782)
    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.generate(HTMLTemplateParser.java:945)
    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.generate(HTMLTemplateParser.java:782)
    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.parse(HTMLTemplateParser.java:751)
    	at GIS.Common.HTMLTemplateParser.generate(HTMLTemplateParser.java:476)
    	at GIS.Servlets.HTMLTemplate.generate(HTMLTemplate.java:316)
    	at GIS.Servlets.HTMLTemplate.processRequest(HTMLTemplate.java:222)
    	at GIS.Servlets.HTMLTemplate.doGet(HTMLTemplate.java:137)
    	at GIS.Servlets.StoryHTMLTemplate.doGet(StoryHTMLTemplate.java:96)
    	at javax.servlet.http.HttpServlet.service(HttpServlet.java:126)
    	at GIS.Common.Servlet.service(Servlet.java:106)
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    	at com.caucho.server.http.FilterChainServlet.doFilter(FilterChainServlet.java:95)
    	at com.caucho.server.http.Invocation.service(Invocation.java:291)
    	at com.caucho.server.http.CacheInvocation.service(CacheInvocation.java:132)
    	at com.caucho.server.http.RunnerRequest.handleRequest(RunnerRequest.java:341)
    	at com.caucho.server.http.RunnerRequest.handleConnection(RunnerRequest.java:271)
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