First Hit #1: May 18, 1974
Streaking was an inexplicable fad that began in the ’70s, involving naked people running around for some reason. I don’t understand the trend, and while it still happens it seems like an odd thing to do and makes one prone to very sensitive injuries. But, like any dumb fad, it got its own novelty song, this one by Ray Stevens, a man whose range from sentimental Everything is Beautiful schlockmeister to somewhat reactionary novelty peddler has made for a man whose career is designed specifically to make me angry. Good job, Ray Stevens, hope you don’t mind that I kind of hate you and everything you stand for.
Oddly, this is probably the best Ray Stevens song, there’s some clever wordplay and the ending twist is kind of amusing. The structure, which follows a news man who coincidentally keeps running into this incredibly broad hick caricature, works as well. But then again, there’s that hick caricature, which is more lazy than it is really funny. Mostly, it’s a comedy routine with a chorus, but it’s a cheesy comedy routine that would be on a show I’d avoid because I can’t stand the aggressively broad style. He could have done something funny about streakers, even if it is a silly fad, but the inclusion of the hick character shows that he has no intention on actually trying. He even brings along a goddamn laugh track, because he has no confidence that people will catch on to what’s funny, and the biggest laughs go to the stupid hick accent rather than any of the wordplay or attempts at being clever. Stevens doesn’t care about being clever – it seems that he actively despises it, in fact – but it’s frustrating when you realize that he’s got a kind of self-loathing intelligence. A funny line, a good bit of wordplay, it’s subverted by the broad, no effort comedy, as though he’s flipping off legions of people who actually put a bit of work in their jokes. The Streak has brief glimpses where you can tell Stevens could be an intelligent, funny man if he wanted to, immediately followed by jokes which confirm that he just doesn’t want to.
In an odd twist of fate, this is the closest Ray Stevens has ever been to funny or relevant. Still sucks though.