Success never came and just as Parry Gripp was set to give up, a new career in music rose from the ashes — by accident — thanks to the iPhone and Apple.
The technology company was not only fodder for Gripp’s brand of absurd novelty music he was creating but, through iTunes, Apple provided a way for him to publish his music and start to make a living.
A cultural phenomenon
Apple is so ingrained in our culture, its products a status symbol of wealth and coolness, musicians across all genres have referenced the tech giant and its devices in song lyrics. The iPhone alone appears shows up in more than 300 songs, mostly in hip-hop music, from Kayne West and Lil Wayne to Future and Jay Z.
But when doing a search on the iPhone or anything Apple in song lyrics, it is Gripp’s relatively unknown name that often pops up first. He has written “five or six” Apple-related songs that have gotten him thousands of followers on his YouTube channel and on streaming services like Spotify.
“I can’t explain it all,” says Gripp, whose music for the Disney cartoon The 7D earned him an Emmy nomination last year. “My whole career has been from goofing around. I started doing this ‘Song of the Week’ thing and my rule was an idea would pop in my head and I would just do it.
“I wrote two songs about the iPhone before I even owned one. It was a really big deal at the time, a cultural phenomenon.”
One of the first songs Gripp posted on YouTube for his “Song of the Week” exercise was a fast-paced mocking ear worm called This Is My Ringtone, which in fact, was the number one ringtone on iTunes for a couple of weeks.
The song lasts 35 seconds and scores a video of a kid getting nailed in the face over and over again with a soccer ball that ricocheted off the goal post.
This is my ringtone, it’s on my iPhone
And you don’t have one, you’re on Verizon
I waited in line, that’s how I got mine
Everybody look at me, I got 3G
Everybody look at me, I got 3G
The song posted on August of 2008 has received more than 800,000 views.
Gripp has lost count of the number of songs he has written that mentions the iPhone or anything else Apple-related. But some of his more memorable Apple-based ditties include:
Your iPhone is Broken, shows a series of pictures of people holding their broken iPhone cases and tells of the frustration of going to the Apple Store, only to find the warranty doesn’t cover you dropping it.
iPad answers “all your questions about the iPad and nachos.” More than 600,000 people have viewed what Gripp calls his best Apple-related song.
Mini iPad, which is not only “delicious to eat,” but could be Apple design guru Jony Ive’s first appearance in a music video.
You, Me and My iPhone has just over 42,000 views but its lampooning of love in the age of mobile phones and a tempo reminiscent of a Green Day song make it my personal favorite.
Gripp had written a song about the iPhone 4 in 2011 that was sung from the perspective of Steve Jobs, but fearing it was in poor taste, Gripp removed it from YouTube when he learned of Jobs’ passing in October of that year.
“My career has really been tied to iTunes and the Apple stuff,” Gripp says. “I found out I could survive just selling songs on iTunes. It is a remarkable thing. It kind of gave me a career.”
Gripp and friends formed the band Nerf Herder in 1994 and were signed to Arista records after the band received significant airplay for a song that saluted Van Halen.
Nerf Herder’s biggest highlight was appearing as a musical guest in on an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The band even got a nod from the show’s writers with a bit of scripted dialogue.
Kennedy: “What kind of band plays during an apocalypse?”
Dawn: “I think this band might actually be one of the signs.”
But the signs otherwise for Nerf Herder did not signal great success and bandmates began to look for other jobs. The band does come together for gigs from time to time and even released another album earlier this year.
After the band went on hiatus, Gripp was getting work writing jingles. He started his “Songs of the Week” on a YouTube channel to have fun with music again.
Anyone who lands on Gripp’s page will quickly join in on his fun, with songs like Last Train to Awesometown, Space Unicorn, I Am a Banana, Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom and Justin Bieber and Spaghetti Cat.
Gripp posted more than 200 songs to his channel from 2008 to 2012, a period of time when he was described by Gawker as the “Weird Al Yankovic of YouTube,” when he retired it after landing the steady gig with Disney.
“If I had tried to do this, it never would’ve happened,” he says.