So who's responsible for the catchiest holiday song to come along in
years? Would you believe Michael Vick and South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson
(who -- you may recall -- shouted "You lie!" at President Obama back in
September 2009 as our Commander-in-Chief was addressing a joint session
Strange but true, folks. During a recent phone interview, Tom Kenny
-- the actor / comedian / songwriter who's probably best known for
voicing SpongeBob SquarePants -- revealed that it was Vick and Wilson's
bad behavior which helped inspire the creation of that new Xmas classic,
"Don't Be a Jerk (It's Christmas)."
SpongeBob SquarePants and Tom Kenny
"This was back in 2009," Tom recalled." And my songwriting partner
Andy Paley and I were knocking around some ideas for a SpongeBob
Christmas album. I mean, why should Alvin & the Chipmunks and
Charlie Brown have all the fun?"
"Anyway, what with Vick being sent away to prison for dogfighting and
Wilson being so openly disrespectful of the president, it just felt
like civilization was falling down around our ears. That everyone on the
planet was now acting like a jerk," Kenny continued. "And I wondered :
What would SpongeBob SquarePants -- a character who's so sincere, so
earnest -- have to say about this? Especially if people began behaving
badly around Christmas?"
Copyright Viacom International. All rights reserved
So Tom put his head together Andy and came up with a holiday-themed
comical plea for courtesy. A Martha and the Vandellas / Phil
-inspired tune which featured lines like:
When others are talking, never interrupt
Don't put people down or leave the toilet seat up
It's the time for family and holly and turkey
Tis the season to be jolly not jerky
But when Kenny & Paley played their "Don't Be a Jerk (It's
Christmas)" demo for Russell Hicks, the Executive Vice President of the
Nickelodeon Group ... Hicks thought that this song had far more
potential than just being the hit single from some SpongeBob Christmas
album. Russell thought that "Don't Be a Jerk" was the sort of tune that
you could build an entire SpongeBob holiday special around.
"And not just any holiday special," Kenny enthused. "Hicks wanted to
do something just like those old school, stop-motion Rankin-Bass
holiday specials, 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
' and 'Santa Claus is
Coming to Town.' Which I watched over and over again when I was a kid
growing up in Syracuse."
And given that Screen Novelties had previously done some stop-motion pieces for 2008's "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie"
as well as the opening titles for the SpongeBob 10th anniversary
television special, it only made sense that Nickelodeon would then
recruit this L.A.-based animation studio to handle "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!"
"Mark Caballero and Seamus Walsh -- the guys who co-directed this
holiday special -- do such amazing work," Tom said. "During the four
months that it took Mark, Seamus and their team to hand animate this
show, I used to invent excuses to go by Screen Novelties and ... "
If you want to learn more about Tom Kenny's trip to Screen Novelties animation studios and/or read the rest of my profile of this veteran voice actor,
you're either going to have to click on the headline above or go straight to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-hill/spongebob-christmas-album_b_2175828.html.
A SpongeBob SquarePants Christmas album inspired by the dog-hating Michael Vick and the irate Joe Wilson? Sounds intriguing. Don't be a jerk-- now that's a great message for a song.
You can see a six minute behind the scenes here: http://vimeo.com/52838323
It's very cool!
Thanks, Jim. *Love* the song! SpongeBob isn't usually on my radar.