It’s quite possibly the most bizarre Billboard Hot 100 hit in history — and that’s saying a lot for a chart that once featured Rick Dees’ “Disco Duck” at No. 1.
“Bed Intruder Song” (above), credited to “Antoine Dodson & The Gregory Brothers Featuring Kelly Dodson,” entered the chart in mid-August at No. 89, and has continued to land on the Hot 100 over the past few weeks, fueled by hefty download sales on iTunes. It’s currently at No. 94 (below, right next to songs from Justin Bieber/Usher and 3OH!3/Ke$ha).
The song uses audio from a WAFF-TV, Huntsville, Ala., news interview with Antoine Dodson, an local man who spoke to a TV reporter after his sister was the victim of an attempted rape.
The news report was soon loaded on to YouTube. Dodson’s animated and vocal reaction to the crime — “He’s climbing in your windows, he’s snatching your people up, trying to rape ’em, so y’all need to hide your kids, hide your wife and hide your husband, ’cause they’re raping everybody out here” — turned him into a Internet superstar.
Then, Brooklyn-based musicians the Gregory Brothers — who have been rising in fame thanks to their growing stable of YouTube videos (including a dance remix of the “Double Rainbow” guy)– put Dodson’s vocals through Autotune and turned it into an incredibly catchy dance remix.
Gregory Brothers drummer Michael Gregory told Billboard that he was initially a little wary of turning the news coverage of an attempted rape into a musical parody. But, he told the music trade, “it’s taking a terrible situation and making at least something positive out of it.”
What’s more, the Gregory Brothers are 50/50 splitting the proceeds from the downloads with Dodson and his sister.
But there may be a snag to the “Bed Intruder Song” success story. It appears that the group didn’t get permission from Raycom-owned WAFF for rights to the video or audio from the report. WAFF general manager Vanessa Oubre told Variety On the Air that the news clip wasn’t licensed to the Gregory Brothers (which would prevent them from selling the song), and that Raycom is pursuing its legal options.
“They did it without permission,” Oubre said. “Our lawyers are handling it.”
Calls to Raycom’s legal department and emails to the Gregory Brothers were not returned; we’ll update this post when we hear back.
Raycom has already had YouTube take down unauthorized uploads of the original news story, although new uploads keep popping up. The Gregory Brothers’ remix — which includes not only video of Dodson and his sister, but also WAFF reporter Elizabeth Gentle — remains up on YouTube, but Raycom could likely force it down as well.
Despite the huge popularity of the Dodson clip, WAFF doesn’t appear to be taking advantage of it. The clip isn’t highlighted on WAFF’s website, and could only be found buried deep on the site after a lengthy search through the station’s online archives.
Nonetheless, WAFF staffers initially appeared to be excited about how the station’s news report turned into a viral sensation; here’s a follow-up report that WAFF’s Gentle did, revisiting a much calmer Dodson in the days after he became an online celebrity. Gentle, interestingly, also responds to critics who questioned WAFF’s decision to showcase Dodson’s comments:
Meanwhile, here’s the original news story, the clip that started it all (watch before Raycom lawyers have it yanked down):
Other stories, in the New York Times and elsewhere, have also asked whether Dodson has been exploited because of his race or income status. Some have pointed out that Dodson has been served a source of several stereotypes. The Times, however, also notes that Dodson has taken full advantage of his new-found fame:
Less than three weeks after the original report was broadcast, between media interviews, Mr. Dodson is now selling “Hide Yo’ Kids, Hide Yo’ Wife” T-shirts on Facebook, bantering with thousands of followers day and night on Twitter, asking visitors to his Web site to donate money to a “Help the Dodson Family” account on PayPal and responding to questions from his fans on YouTube.
Dodson told ABC News that his family is using some of the iTunes money to move away from the apartment where the crime occurred.
If all of this isn’t strange enough, the North Carolina A&T marching band has turned “Bed Intruder Song” into a full band anthem:
Want even more background on Antoine Dodson and the “Bed Intruder Song”? Check out the Wikipedia page devoted to the phenomenon here.