I’m not proud of this, but I am somewhat of an afficianado of parodies of Billy Joel’s paean to Baby Boomer self-obsession, “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” At one point, I forced the other writers at work to help me write a Simpsons version of the song, called “They’ll Never Stop The Simpsons.” This tribute, although eerily true in its prediction of The Simpsons franchise being unstoppable, was of mixed quality at best. Also, it’s terrible. It still bothers me — who is the “They” who will fail to stop The Simpsons? Who? I have no idea. (However, the one shining light in this Sherman’s March of a song-writing project was the line “Sorry for the clip show.”)
A big reason for my version’s suckitude is that the Piano Man himself, Billy Joel, would not license the actual tune of his Billboard #1 hit, so we had to use a knock-off. I recall distinctly humming Joel’s tune to our composer in September 2001 on the day of my 30th birthday, in a hotel overlooking Mount Fuji, in the middle of a typhoon, so he could reluctantly ape it. The results speak for themselves. Billy’s original melody bears about as much resemblance to “They’ll Never Stop The Simpsons” as does a Wagyu steak to a boiled dog ear. At least Billy Joel didn’t sue us. But I hold onto the hope that perhaps, somehow he saw our song and threw up.
These days, the internet is full of “We Didn’t Start The Fire” parodies. My old favorite was the WBZ Channel 4 1980s Boston sports version, but one can easily Google re-worked incarnations about everything from Star Wars to autism to genitalia. This proves one thing: the song is exceptionally easy to write parody lyrics for.
I’m sure I was not alone in thinking the bit was played-out. Until now. CollegeHumor.com has breathed new life into “We Didn’t Start The Fire” parodies, with THIS.
“We Didn’t Start The Flame War” is impressively observant — a sharply-produced, dead-on declaration of war/love letter to the sub-literate culture of online interaction. And unlike Billy Joel’s now-20-year-old gimmick, it tackles the horrible present, not the fuzzy past. Also, unlike everything else on CollegeHumor.com, it’s not about ejaculation. Okay, a little bit. But in a smart way. So hopefully, They Have Stopped the “We Didn’t Start The Fire” parodies.
(Unless — someone put together a “We Didn’t Start The Fire” parody about all the other “We Didn’t Start The Fire” parodies. Do it, internet — do it!!!)