Chronicles of Narnia Rap Video From Saturday Night Live

The sensation over the “Lazy Sunday” (The Chronic of Narnia Rap) music video from “Saturday Night Live” has not died down, despite the holidays.

Instant Notoriety for a Rap Video From Saturday Night Live (NYT)

For most aspiring rappers, the fastest route to having material circulated around the World Wide Web is to produce a work that is radical, cutting-edge and, in a word, cool. But now a pair of “Saturday Night Live” performers turned unexpected hip-hop icons are discovering that Internet stardom may be more easily achieved by being as nerdy as possible.

In “Lazy Sunday,” a music video that had its debut on the Dec. 17 broadcast of “SNL,” two cast members, Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg, adopt the brash personas of head-bopping, hand-waving rappers. But as they make their way around Manhattan’s West Village, they rhyme with conviction about subjects that are anything but hard-core: they boast about eating cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery, searching for travel directions on MapQuest and achieving their ultimate goal of attending a matinee of the fantasy movie “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

It is their obliviousness to their total lack of menace – or maybe the ostentatious way they pay for convenience-store candy with $10 bills – that makes the video so funny, but it is the Internet that has made it a hit. Since it was originally broadcast on NBC, “Lazy Sunday” has been downloaded more than 1.2 million times from the video-sharing Web site YouTube.com; it has cracked the upper echelons of the video charts at NBC.com and the iTunes Music Store; and it has even inspired a line of T-shirts, available at Teetastic.com.

“I’ve been recognized more times since the Saturday it aired than since I started on the show,” said Mr. Samberg, 27, a featured player in his first season on “SNL.” “It definitely felt like something changed overnight.”

But Mr. Samberg is already well aware of the Internet’s power to transform relative unknowns into superstars. In 2000, when he and his childhood friends Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, both 28, who wrote “Lazy Sunday” with Mr. Samberg and Mr. Parnell, were still struggling comedy writers living together in Los Angeles, they created a Web site, the Lonely Island, to house their self-produced skits and video experiments.

The video is available for download pretty much everywhere, including NBC, iTunes, and LinkSynergy.

I missed the airing of the show but saw Josh Levin’s Slate piece, “The Chronicles of Narnia Rap – It won’t save Saturday Night Live, but it could save hip hop” last week. I hadn’t realized that hip hop was in danger of dying but I would never forgive SNL if they were responsible for saving it.

Steve Benen asks, “[W]hen was the last time Saturday Night Live was this successful in creating a cultural sensation?” I’d say the 2000 election? Their spoofs on the presidential debates and the recount flap were instant classics.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.