For an idea as to what we’re doing here, refer back to the introduction for more details.
We’re down to the final three, since this season had an odd number of entries, so we’ll wrap up the final three today and pick this up again next week, so as not to start the second season mid-week. The final three for the first season are easily among the best the franchise has delivered in general, and they’d easily be in competition for the top slots of all time from the franchise so far. So let’s see where the final three fell in the rankings:
Napoleon vs Napoleon:
Well, for starters, the makeup jobs here are absolutely top-notch; Peter looks almost spot-on like Napoleon Dynamite, and Lloyd makes for a pretty good Napoleon relatively speaking. Also, both sell their characters exceptionally; Peter does a very acceptable Napoleon Dynamite impression, and Lloyd… sounds like an angry French man, more or less.
Beyond that, the battle rap is full of double entendre disses, focusing on ND being a gigantic loser and NB being short and terrible at winning things, and it’s great. References to NB’s exile to Elba and failure in Russia are great, as is NB basically telling ND, in French, that he has a face that’d make a manhole cover pop off. Best of all, the vast majority of the logical flaws in ND’s arguments (IE that NB wasn’t really that short, or that technically Boris Yeltsin would be the ugliest thing to fail in Russia since NB) work fine because ND isn’t that bright, and so we can only expect so much of him mentally.
You… kind of need to know what the hell Napoleon Dynamite is to get NB’s first round battle rap, or else you’re going to wonder why he’s bringing up llamas and Uncle Pedro and such. Also, yeah, some of the historical references are a little obscure (you know who NB is but probably not that he was super good at killing Prussians, for example). The battle rap still works without that knowledge, but it’s less effective.
Darth Vader vs Hitler:
It’s Darth Vader versus Adolph Hitler, before that idea had been run into the ground.
Sometimes, very rarely, the concept of a battle rap is so amazing that it transcends the quality of the actual battle rap itself, and this is one of those times. The very idea, by itself, was almost certainly the very thing that launched the project to the heights it achieved, as it’s overall the fourth-highest hitting video in the entire project’s history; when you consider that of the top four videos, the top video is Obama vs Romney during election season (over a hundred million views), the distance between the next three is only a couple million hits (eighty seven to eighty nine million views) and next closest after that is ten million views away, it’s a pretty damn impressive feat. The battle rap itself isn’t bad either; Hitler points out that Vader is, in fact, fictional, (logically) calls himself evil as a hype tactic, and offers Vader a spot in his shower (gas chamber), while Vader calls Hitler’s mom a whore, points out that if he were real Hitler would be a ripoff artist, and makes a Disney joke years before it was culturally relevant.
Well, Vader straight-up wins by freezing Hitler in carbonite (this is a running trend here, since Hitler is basically a real life evil bastard), which is the only series this really happens in. Also, the raps aren’t as crisp as they will be in the second go round next season, mostly because Peter and Lloyd were still working out the kinks. The concept is really the big selling point, but for historical value and sheer audacity, this one almost merits first place, but not quite.
Einstein vs Stephen Hawking:
Well, for starters, this is one of the rare tracks from ERB that manages to layer double entendre battle raps in a way that’s so powerful that the battle rap starts off funny if you know nothing and becomes hilarious if you do. There are so many double and triple meanings here that the density is approaching osmium levels at times. Further, the battle rap works as intended even if you’re not a huge science buff, as Einstein takes plenty of shots at Hawking’s wheelchair and disability, while Hawking points out that he’s smarter than Einstein and that Einstein looks stupid and ugly a lot. The random appearance by Lloyd as Carl Sagan is also great, especially since they call back to that in Season Three.
Also, from a historical and significance perspective, this video marks the first appearance of Zack Sherwin in the battle raps, and he absolutely kills it here, to the extent that it’s no wonder he ended up becoming part of the ERB family full time (his name appears in the writing credits frequently in later seasons). Further, this is the second highest hitting video in ERB’s history, and when the first highest video was, again, a political video released during election season, that’s hardly a fair comparison point.
Peter emulating Stephen Hawking was a little weird at first, because, y’know… but Hawking apparently has a big sense of humor so he probably doesn’t care, so I can’t really say much there. Also, the autotune was cute, but it grates a little. Still, that’s really about the worst things I can say here, so honestly, this takes the top spot, and it’s not even a contest.
Well that’s it for the first season of ERB; join us next week when we start counting down the hits from the second season of ERB, which… aren’t quite so impressive.