Baltimore native has unlikely hit with Taylor Swift parody, 'Merry Swiftmas'

December 15, 2009|By Sam Sessa | sam.sessa@baltsun.com | Baltimore Sun reporter

Last week, singer/songwriter Evan Taubenfeld was shopping at the mall when inspiration struck.

Taubenfeld kept hearing music from pop/country star Taylor Swift piped into stores, and, in the spur of the moment, decided to pen a holiday song about her.

From start to finish, it took Taubenfeld, a Baltimore native who now lives in Los Angeles, an hour to write the song, which he called "Merry Swiftmas (Even Though I Celebrate Chanukah)." A week later, the song is on par to be the year's breakout holiday parody song.

"As a joke, I guess because it was at the top of my mind, I was like, 'Santa for my gift / please send me Taylor Swift,'" he said. "I thought it was funny. I didn't take it very seriously."

Fall Out Boy front man Pete Wentz and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton were tickled with the tune, and posted it on their Twitter pages. Swift herself heard the song, and wrote, "THIS made me smile."

"I think I got the best compliment I could get for writing a song like that," Taubenfeld said. "I was like, 'All right, I guess I did a good job.'"

In the song, Taubenfeld sings: "I'd rather get a subpoena / then kick it with Angelina / And yeah I'll probably shed a few tears / if you mess up and send Britney Spears."

By Tuesday morning, the lo-fi YouTube video for "Merry Swiftmas" had close to 350,000 views, and Taubenfeld was busy doing interviews to promote it. The overnight attention caught Taubenfeld -- and his record label -- by surprise, he said.

"They were like, 'Holy ... what just happened?," he said. "It was nice to wake them up."

Taubenfeld scrambled to upload the song on iTunes and record a proper music video for the song, which should debut later this week. Filmed at his house, it shows Taubenfeld in funny holiday outfits sending a note to Santa, he said.

"In the end, there's a really nice surprise," he said. "You'll have to wait and see if Taylor herself makes an appearance or not. We've got tricks up our sleeve."

After graduating from McDonogh School in 2001, Taubenfeld was accepted to Berklee College of Music in Boston, but deferred to pursue music. For a couple years, he landed a dream gig as the touring guitarist for Canadian pop rocker Avril Lavigne. He has co-writing credits on a handful of Lavigne's songs, and is currently working with her on her new album.

"She's got the best instincts of anyone I've ever met," he said. "She knows what's right for her."

Taubenfeld recorded a debut solo album, but so far, "Merry Swiftmas" could be the biggest thing to happen to him yet. He's cool with all the attention the song is getting, he said.

"Beggars can't be choosers, right?," he said. "I don't really care how my name gets out there. It's all comedy -- it's not serious. This is the music business. I'm just excited that a song I did as a joke at least got a little bit of attention."

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