The first impression you might get from this lumbering man-child named, of all things, Babycakes, is that he's a simpleton. He's 30, he lives at home with his dad, talks of wizards and trolls around every corner and enjoys creating role-playing game scenarios for his friends. But after you spend some real time with this particular web series star, you'll find that Babycakes is simply an expressive soul who just wants to be heard. Lucky for us, much of his expression comes in the form of song.
Everybody you're so jealous. If you love me you'll say "Hell yes!"
I am Babycakes, so luscious. I will rule collective conscious.
The world of Babycakes exists under the banner of Neely Comics, an animated short series housed by the Turner-owned SuperDeluxe.com and created by Austin, TX-based artist Brad Neely. Joining Babycakes as main characters in Neely's animated universe are The Professor Brothers, two questionably competent history professors who employ eccentric teaching tactics at an unknown university, and like Babycakes, have a forte for music and lyrics.
Before landing at SuperDeluxe.com, Neely had been publishing his print work, called Creased Comics, in Texas since 1996 but gained wider notoriety with his live performances of an alternate soundtrack to Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone called Wizard People, Dear Readers, which debuted at the 2004 New York Underground Film Festival. Even before SuperDeluxe launched, Neely's musical ode to George Washington was getting significant attention on YouTube and around the interweb. The song, a pseudo-rap of the old school variety, offers a slightly different view of America's first president:
Let me lay it on the line, he had two on the vine
Two sets of testicles, so divine.
On a horse made of crystal he patrolled the land with the Mason ring and schnauzer in his perfect hands.
Here comes George, in control. Women loved his snuff and his gallant stroll.
Neely says the idea behind the song came from popular notions about our forefathers. "Some people really think George Washington was like a Greek god," he says. "(I thought) it would be funny to make a song where two people sing about him in a way that inflates that mythology to extreme levels. And that was the starting point." The same approach gave Neely inspiration to write a tune about America's King of Camelot himself, JFK, sung by the Professor Brothers.
His parents were an academic team of elites.
Their goal was to raise the future human supreme.
He smelled like the future, his words felt like flowers
And if he shook your hand, you'd make love with it for hours.
Much of Neely's songwriting, as with his animated narratives, is anchored in the banality of everyday life but thrives on a generous helping of crafted gibberish and earnest whimsy served up on a pu-pu platter of creative profanity. But as loose and casual as it may sound, every detail is carefully planned—from his inventively twisted phrases to the songs' genres. "I keep an enormous amount of notes that aren't really attached to any specific thing I'm working on," says Neely. "It could be a line here, or an idea I think is funny like what the first Olympics was like, or the phrase 'wolf balls.' You write them down and come back to them later. The song genre you pick is also part of the joke. The fact that Babycakes, this kind of silly, giant sort-of slow 30-year-old, is mixing beats and making rap songs in his house and using it as a way to express his worldview, I think is hilarious. Then it's about setting down a loose melody before any specific lyrics, then writing and getting a bit of a chorus. Once I've got a loose structure, I start looking at where to put the jokes. Then after a while I start fitting them into the meter and making rhyme schemes, and that's when things start tightening up."
So far, Neely's audience has been treated to a wide variety of subjects and structures. While not giving anything away, Neely managed to hint at what may be coming in the near future. "There'll be some slower ballad-type things that should be funny," he says. "I've got a lot of songs that'll be sort of musical theater acts. I have rules for myself, though. I don't want there ever to be a scene where people are talking in a group and one just wanders off and breaks into song. It doesn't bother me if someone is singing by themselves to the audience or if two people are sitting there and one says, 'Have you heard this song?' and then tries to sing it—that makes sense to me. And I like the music video structure, as well. So I do have these strange rules for myself. No Hip-hoperas."
Until then, we'll keep combing through the Babycakes catalog for creative inspiration.
I am Babycakes! I am Babycakes! I am the World!