Tay Zonday's "Chocolate Rain" summer was five years ago
Minnesota's been home to many artists who've exploded from our local scenes and captivated a nation, pioneering new methods of expression along the way. One such supernova, Tay Zonday, has made a career of posting original videos on YouTube through the continued success of his 2007 single "Chocolate Rain." One of the biggest YouTube videos of all time, it set off a phenomenon that crossed-over into mainstream television and lead to covers from some of the biggest names in music. Five years later, we look back at the Summer of Tay.
It all started with "Chocolate Rain," a self-produced song with a message and a disclaimer that Zonday (AKA then-U of M student Adam Nyerere Bahner) moves away from the mic to breathe. The clip's re-playability and homemade charm made Zonday one of YouTube's earliest stars. As word began to spread, it additionally raised viewership on his earlier videos and prompted Zonday, now embracing his internet fame, to express his gratitude by covering Rick Astley's perennial internet standard "Never Gonna Give You Up."
With views increasing by the thousands, YouTube designated July 26th, 2007 as Tay Zon-Day, featuring his most celebrated videos and their tributes on the main page, including Zonday's new single "Internet Dream." Zonday's star continued to rise as both John Mayer and Green Day's Tre Cool performed covers of "Chocolate Rain," and soon he was making appearances on TV screen, including VH1's "Best Week Ever."
When Tay Fever reached its hottest, Jimmy Kimmel escorted the singer into the mainstream by having him perform "Chocolate Rain" on his late night ABC talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! In a shining moment of the real world colliding with the internet, the stunned audience looks on and attempts to clap along. Kimmel then interviewed Zonday, cementing his status as one of the internet's goodwill ambassadors.
Tay finished his summer with "The Only Way," confirming to the world that "Tay Zonday has arrived." The rest of the year saw him immortalized on "South Park," "30 Rock," and even a commercial for Dr. Pepper. Today, Zonday remains one of the most visible YouTube celebrities, frequently engaging with his fans (known as Tay-Stars) as well as doing voiceover and commercial work. He's also commemorated the momentous five year anniversary of his rise to the top of the internet by, this month, releasing "Chocolate Rain 2.0" to iTunes. While many internet sensations have logged out of the public conscious as quickly as they were downloaded, Zonday's chocolate reign shows no sign of drizzling out.