Tomorrow marks the anniversary of an important YouTube milestone: it will be 10 years to the day that Adam Bahner — better known by his online moniker Tay Zonday — wrote, produced, and uploaded one of the platform’s most infamous viral videos, Chocolate Rain.
The original song — delivered with quirky facial expressions and mannerisms, and in Bahner’s unique baritone, featuring lyrics like, “Some stay dry and others feel the pain” — catapulted into the cultural zeitgeist in April 2007, and today counts upwards of 112 million views. It also helped Bahner become a bonafide YouTube star. His channel, featuring vlogs and cover videos, has now clocked over 1 million subscribers.
The 34-year-old Minneapolis native spoke to Popjournalism on the eve of the anniversary about how Chocolate Rain — which touches on themes of institutional racism — came to be, and the song’s larger impact on online culture.
Bahner says he uploaded the song with the sole purpose of receiving feedback on his music, and waxed poetic about not being taken seriously as a singer. “No song is taken seriously,” he told Popjounrnalism. “The artist just makes the song like a parent makes a child…The world raises that child…I can’t worry about how the world does its job. I can only worry about how I do mine.” He added that, in the face of the viral surge, he wasn’t impacted negatively by online trolls or real-life haters. “If I was a better train wreck, I’d probably be more successful in entertainment,” he said.
Bahner says he plans to release an album this year, and has also pursued several acting opportunities, including appearances in Laid In America and Internet Famous. He is also affiliated with the influencer marketing company SocialBlueBook.