I defy anyone not to like this amazing clip from a 5-year-old boy in Japan who, armed with a ukulele, plays the hell out of one of the most endearing yet also annoying pop songs, Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”. You must know this song –it’s the stuff or earworms, the kind of sing-songy, melodic dross that, according to Billboard Magazine, has spent the most weeks in the Hot 100 (76), received triple Platinum status and has sold over 4 million copies worldwide.
You may have heard this sprightly ditty at weddings, engagement or anniversary parties, or you could have seen Mraz perform gamely near the end of last season’s “American Idol”, his performance on “Saturday Night Live”, or even watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt do a preening impression of him on “SNL” a few weeks back.
Or you could have driven your car into a ditch after hearing the song for the upteenth time on the radio. It almost happened to me about a year ago when a South Carolina pop radio station played the song three times within an hour; somewhere along the cheesy surfboard shops in Myrtle Beach I think I rolled down my window to scream.
So why is this little boy better than the fedora-wearing, barefooted, prince of folky pop? How is this preternaturally-talented boy more honest than the impish, curly haired scatter whose sound lies somewhere north of Dave Matthews, and east of Jack Johnson, with a little dash of Adam Duritz? Well, it’s because we don’t understand what he’s saying! And that’s good! Do we really want to hear him warble through these words:
Well you done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill but you’re so hot that I melted
I fell right through the cracks, now I’m trying to get back
Before the cool done run out I’ll be giving it my bestest
And nothing’s going to stop me but divine intervention
I reckon it’s again my turn to win some or learn some
Mraz’s lyrics are utter dorkdom, and they come from a place where his attempts to be cool and sexy with the ladies crashes spectacularly with imagery that alludes to mealy-mouthed, new age-y appeals to a “Gratitude Café” and an eco-friendly world. On another song off his latest CD, “Butterfly”, he essentially sings a paean to a woman’s nether region, but it comes off sounding a little creepy when he utters these lyrics:
You got soul, you know what to do to turn me on
Until I write a song about you
And you have your own engaging style
You got the knack to vivify
And you make my slacks a little tight
And you make my pants a little tight, you may fasten then if you like
That’s if you crash and spend the night
But I suppose it’s the lilting melodies that affirm whatever tiny charm that Jason Mraz has. I wouldn’t expect –strike that—I can guarantee you that this little boy has no idea what “Butterfly” is about or what the words are to “I’m Yours” are anyways. Yet there’s something very appealing about him trying to play that ukulele with skill, having only heard (presumably) the melody from Mraz’s popular song. (Yeah, he is big in Japan.)
This clip is proof that we don’t need to have the awkward lyrics at all, and that for all of his cutesy, awkward, “I’m-a-nerd-who-can’t-take-my-hat-off-and-won’t-wear-shoes-because-they’re-oppressive” act is really nothing but a competent melody that lends itself to a little uke, and a cute boy who happens to have a good ear for music and for essentially reminding us that a lot of Jason Mraz’s lyrics really are a pile of jibberish.
Ugh. OK, OK, so you want the real thing? (Do we have to?) Here is the barefooted wonder, doing an acapella version of his monster hit:
BONUS CLIP: Check out Ukulele Boy doing an impressive cover of The Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”…in a tie!