The Weather

The Background Music to this 90’s Exercise Video is a Blatant Rip-Off of ‘You Can Call Me Al’

What’s everyone watching? Oh, that is too funny, I think it’s been years since I’ve seen an actual aerobics video! Look at those graphics —they definitely thought that star-wipe was pretty cool. And yeah, this voiceover is so lame! You know what, though? That music in the background? I know it sounds like cheesy synth, but that melody is the horn line to “You Can Call Me Al.” Just listen to it, it’s identical.

Who used to watch these, right? Seriously, I can’t believe anyone would actually use this to exercise. And who are the people that made this? Did they know they were aping one of the most recognizable song intros in the history of pop music? Come on guys, I’m talking about “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon! I don’t know how no one else is hearing that. And no, Greg, I disagree, it’s not just a similar riff. It’s the same riff.

Oh God you’re right, that instructor has got some big hair. I can’t believe people were still wearing their hair that big in the mid ’90s. What year was this made? 1996? That’s also way after “You Can Call Me Al” came out. If this had been produced in the early ’80s, I could see how maybe they came up with what they thought was an easy, three note repeatable motif to play in the background. But by 1996 you’ve had a good ten years of living in a world that’s very familiar with “You Can Call Me Al.” Someone in the course of producing this video should have been like “Wait, we can’t use this, that’s the catchy opening of a song from one of the most successful songwriters of all time.”

What Sandra? Maybe they didn’t know they were lifting from “You Can Call Me Al?” Yeah, sure, I suppose it’s possible they hadn’t heard Paul Simon’s humorously mundane vocals, delivered in a stream of consciousness fashion over the sounds of some of South Africa’s best studio musicians. Or perhaps they never saw the music video with Chevy Chase doing the lip syncing, with Simon relegated to singing back up on HIS OWN SONG! Give me a break! I was only a kid when it was released, but “You Can Call Me Al” was everywhere. Not “Billie Jean” everywhere, but damn close. And Graceland, I mean, it was a phenomenon, right? So what in hell were they thinking when they made this video? Is no one else outraged by this?

Here, what happens when we go 15 minutes into the video… oh, yep! Listen to that! “Duh, dunt dunt dunt! Duh, dent dent dunt!” It’s still going! That’s just insane. OK, sorry, sure, I’ll ask next time if I can touch your computer. And if I ever make an aerobics video, I’ll ask before I use copyrighted music.

Oh no Derek, don’t even—there’s no way that Paul Simon allowed this to happen… Um, because world famous troubadours are not in the habit of licensing their songs to exercise VHS tapes, that’s why. This guy wrote songs in the Brill Building when he was a teenager, the last thing he’s gonna do is let his popular melodies supplement images of sweaty people in neon spandex lunging and running in place!  This is downright theft! I’m reporting this to YouTube, and I think they’ll be quite pleased to know about this infringement of their user agreement. And whoever uploaded this is about to get a wake up call, too: you don’t fuck with the legacy of Rhymin’ Simon!
Fine! I’ll go do it from my own computer. At my own home. This party really took a turn south anyways because of this exercise video.

David Guzman writes sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre for the team (212). His work has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Splitsider, The Bygone Bureau and The Big Jewel. Follow him @davidjguzman on Twitter.