Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Come, let us remember the time Will Smith played second fiddle to Alvin and the Chipmunks
Screenshot: YouTube

TIL seeks to excavate and luxuriate in the pop culture relics of yesteryear by sifting through the staticky depths of the Internet Archive’s VHS Vault.


It’s hard to imagine, but there was once a time when Will Smith was a cheeky up-and-comer and not a cheeky megastar kicking up his feet in a $2 million dollar trailer that blocks traffic. Granted, this was around three decades ago, back when he was just getting started on a new sitcom after a string of rap hits as The Fresh Prince. The internet, however, never forgets such things, and will always provide for the patient and diligent among us. It is without further ado that we present to you Will Smith playing second fiddle in an extremely 1990’s direct-to-VHS tape of Alvin and the Chipmunks music videos.

In 1991, NBC aired a television special called Rockin’ with the Chipmunks, which basically was just Alvin and his pitch-altered bandmates covering largely benign pop hits like “Crocodile Rock,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Will Smith, presumably at a much lower price than $17 million, was brought in to host the thing, which resulted in the insanity you just witnessed. It’s such a pure distillation of early-90s pop culture that you can’t help but watch the whole thing (even if it’s on mute during all the Chipmunk parts).


The rest, of course, is history. Will Smith is synonymous with Hollywood blockbusters, while Alvin and the Chipmunks is synonymous with amazingly shitty sequel titles.

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Andrew Paul is a contributing writer with work recently featured by NBC Think, GQ, Slate, Rolling Stone, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. He writes the newsletter, (((Echo Chamber))).

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