For an idea as to what we’re doing here, refer back to the introduction for more details.
We’re back with more from the mid-ground of ERB’s first season, and what’s here is generally from early on in the production cycle too, while Peter and Lloyd were fooling around with the concept. In other words, the concepts were interesting, but the execution needed a little work for these two.
John Lennon vs Bill O’Reilly:
With a performance like this, it’s pretty easy to see why the concept became a huge deal in a short period of time. Peter and Lloyd, using their own voices and a minimal amount of props and setwork, turn out an awesome performance, full of jokes that reference back to the players in question (Can’t Buy Me Love! Maxwell’s Silver Hammer! That Sting gaffe from Inside Edition that was big on Youtube!), and you could tell that the duo had something here. Most of the groundwork was already in place, and with a little bit more of a budget and some funny voices, everything was more or less complete from here, which is surprising given how often ideas turn into something completely different by the end.
While the lack of voice modification (which isn’t ALWAYS a bad thing but still), budget and such hurt the video a little, there are three slightly more notable issues with this battle rap that ding it a bit:
1.) The backing track is a lot more simplistic than those used in later songs, and doesn’t really add much to the battle, unlike later battles in the same season,
2.) The Beatles references here were weird; Peter’s dressed like Sgt. Pepper era Lennon, but O’Reilly calls him out as a “long hair,” which was Abbey Road and beyond, and of the three Beatles songs Peter references, only one was actually written by Lennon (“Help” in this case, as “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” were McCartney, exclusively), and so on.
3.) It’s clearly a “good guy/bad guy” song, where we’re clearly meant to think O’Reilly is a dick, instead of a song where both competitors are meant to be on evil footing, which rarely ends up making for a compelling battle when we’re supposed to empathize with one side of the other. It also kind of doesn’t help that Lennon might actually have been a worse human being than O’Reilly, (depending on your views of repeated significant other abuse versus verbal sexual assault), but all O’Reilly has to work with is how Lennon’s a hippie.
Abe Lincoln vs Chuck Norris:
This one’s a lot closer to where ERB ultimately ended up, and it’s only the third battle, so that’s saying something. It also hits a lot more of the important points that make a good battle: accurate shit talk, lots of hitting below the belt, and plenty of relevant in-jokes. Peter’s Lincoln is great and goofy as hell, and gets in a lot of good shots below the belt (and probably would object to Norris’ political leanings given how the Republican Party has changed since he was a member of it), and Norris retaliated by rapping off Chuck Norris facts, and making them rhyme, which was pretty awesome.
Also switching from Walker: Texas Ranger Norris to early-era Norris was pretty great.
Abe Lincoln was a goddamn genetic freak; at 6’4″, he historically (or as historic as oral histories can be) beat the shit out of multiple dudes at once because he was basically the manliest man not named Teddy Roosevelt who sat as President. Joke meme or no, I’m betting on that guy to kick Norris’ ass, and they probably could’ve done more with “I’m giant and have beaten up shitloads of dudes at once, you got beat by one guy who was shorter than you,” than “Look I’m dumping pennies on Chuck Norris.”
Also, while it was pretty cute that they managed to rhyme a bunch of Chuck Norris facts as a battle rap, considering that 1.) almost all of Norris’ raps were Chuck Norris facts, and 2.) Chuck Norris revealed he didn’t get the point of the joke when he told a bunch of people Jesus is the only person who can cure cancer with his tears, that kind of hurts the product. That’s not anyone’s fault who’s involved with ERB, of course, but sometimes knowing about the historical realities of things makes it harder to buy into the battles themselves.