In my fifteen years of working in retail, I have many fond and even some unfond memories of the products we have sold in the past that have come and gone. I mentioned a few weeks ago about how in awe I was at the shit-ton worth of licensed Star Wars merchandise we received in the Spring of 1999 for the release of the much anticipated movie “The Phantom Menace”, and how it gave me a soft spot for the much maligned character Jar Jar Binks. Sadly, 1999 would end on a much more sour note, as it became the Christmas of the singing fish. Yes, you probably already got a case of the shudders as soon as you saw the picture leading off this post…. this week’s Flashback Friday is dedicated to everyone’s favorite evil earworm spouting pisces, Big Mouth Billy Bass.
Stuff your ears full of cotton, and prepare to hit play for some of Big Mouth Billy Bass’ favorite hits!
Now you got to admit, it’s a pretty cool and cute concept. Mounting a plastic fish on a plaque and having him suddenly start bursting into song and dance when some unlucky person trips his sneaky fisheye motion detector. It is pretty funny and neat…. for the first 30 seconds or so. Kinda like Christmas music can make you all happy and cheery, for about the first five minutes you have to listen to it…
Alas, Big Mouth Billy Bass wound up being the hot gag gift of that final Christmas season of the old millennium (Yes, I know the millennium really ended 12/31/2000… shut up!), which meant it was very prominently displayed in the main aisle in front of Sporting Goods, which wound up being the department the brain trust at Mecca decided that a singing plastic fish should be a part of. It would be like selling a Pound Puppy in the Pet department…
Because my area I regularly worked at the time was very close to Sporting Goods, guess what I heard over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and…. did I mention over and over again? This annoying scaly piece of animatronic pond scum going off about every two minutes for the final two months of 1999. Customers didn’t even have to play with the things and press it’s inviting red button of doom to activate its siren song of aural torture. Just someone walking past one set Billy Bass off and singing about taking him to the river. Billy Boy may not have realized it, but there was a very big river not very far from the Mecca I work at, and I’d have loved nothing more than to have tossed the entire school of these evil playthings into the middle of it…
As I demonstrated in the Krazy Glue post, people can be such sheep when it comes to buying consumer goods that totally suck. Everyone knew darn good and well these wretched singing fish were something you wouldn’t even give to your worst enemy, let alone a gift for your brother-in-law. But shoppers bought the crap out of Big Mouth Billy Basses anyway… at least during that first year. Naturally, given the popularity of the original, updated versions and knockoffs began popping up in the ensuing holiday seasons…
Have you ever wondered why tacky “As Seen on TV” items like Big Mouth Billy Bass are only sold during the Christmas season? Because that’s the only time people will get desperate enough to buy something…. anything to give as a gift because our culture has us so wrapped up in the guilt of needing to exchange presents during the holiday season. Fuck that! I hate shopping for other people, and I hate getting gifts from people that I don’t even want in the first place. Alas, I can’t really campaign against the consumerism of the holiday season because it pays my salary… but just for the record, I outgrew the joy of forced gift giving and receiving a long time ago. You can just wish me a Merry Xmas and be on your way, please…
Luckily in the end, common sense prevailed, and people stopped buying Big Mouth Billy Bass and all of his increasingly annoying cousins within a couple years of the initial singing fish invasion. By the middle of the aughts, the selling of crooning seafood was relegated to the secret vaults of creepy collectors on eBay. Chances are, unless you have one of those sadistic relatives who never throws away anything and/or thinks that old gags never go out of style, you have probably not heard the dreaded song of the Big Mouth Billy Bass for a very long time…
As a wise, rich, and despised man once said, you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time… and boy did we get taken by Big Mouth Billy Bass fourteen years ago. The Nest gives a high fin to the men and women behind the production of BMBB, who gave the public exactly what they didn’t want, and still fooled them to buy a ton of them through the oppressive power of the giving season. It’s too bad Big Mouth Billy had to give singing fish everywhere a bad name, but don’t worry Barnes and Barnes…. we still love your super hit of the 80’s!
so funny )
“Give me back that filet o fish, give me that fish.”
You win!!! I had totally forgotten about that. In fact, I had no idea it was even connected with BMBB because I had only heard that annoying singing on a radio commercial before… I just looked up the TV ad on You Tube!
Baby B was obsessed with this commercial. 🙂
What do I win?
A mounted Big Mouth Evil Squirrel to put on your wall!
Oh joy. 😉
Another infommercial that left my brain asking wtf? You are hilarious with the Bah humbug. That should be the Christmas mantra.
It has been my Christmas mantra for a long time! Just call me Scrooge!
Ok, Scrooge. You can call me Jaded Marley.
I hated that fucking fish.
Everyone did. He doesn’t even deserve to be called Billeh Bass…
No, he doesn’t. Too doucheh to deserve a catcheh name such as that.
Snorts – I do remember seeing him on television. You’re right. He gets on your nerves very quickly. I mean like a nano-second and I’m done. But this does make me wonder about something. Not too long ago here at the Hotel Thompson, I went into a room that is forbidden. I saw a fish on the wall – shivers. It scared the poop out of me literally. I wonder if it sings? Mommy said daddy caught it and hung it on the wall. This frightened me to no end. I hope he doesn’t ‘catch’ me, if you know what I mean 😉 snorts. XOXO – Bacon
I’d be wary of that fish busting out into song as well. I hear the cats like fish… maybe you should have Hemi and Mouse Girl do some investigating on that fish….
The next time dad goes into his ‘room’, I may push them in and close the door – snorts. It’s usually off limits to us anipals here at the Hotel Thompson. You know – we have the entire run of the hotel except this room. You can not partake in this room. hhhmm – where have I heard this story before? Something about an apple – snorts. XOXO – Bacon
It’s weird how gifts like that can go viral every Christmas… Like somehow that singing fish appeals to people on some grand scale. Who knows. What I DO KNOW is that retail can certainly murder one’s Christmas Spirit by about two days into October.
LOL, my Christmas spirit had already gone into rigormortis long ago. I’m almost numb to the holiday barrage by now…
Aww, I miss that little guy. And all the spin offs he inspired. I might have to find one this year to put up, cuz ’tis the season, and why not.
Nooooooooo!!! Now I need to build another firewall made of nuts!
Yum, nuts! A tasty morning snack… while I hum along to a class tune…
Ha ha, “animatronic pond scum” 🙂
A great name for a rock band!
My Grandfather had one of those hanging by the front door, he loved it because it annoyed my Grandmother. After he died my Grandmother left it there for a while but either the off switch was broken or my Grandfather was haunting her because that thing went off anytime it felt like it!
OMG, that brought back a memory. Yes, someone got my Dad one of these damned things, and it eventually got buried in a pile of junk in all the clutter that was our house… and despite it being hidden away, we’d still hear it go off every once in a while at random. I think his batteries finally gave out after a few years………
eww creepy fishy. 🙂
It takes a lot to creep out out an aussie. Fair Dinkum!!!! 🙂
And many happy returns…. to the store! 🙂
Love the Fish Heads song. Sorry to say that I thought it was by They Might Be Giants or Ween. I now stand corrected.
Also, I love that the Billy Bass thing was such a phenomenon it became a minor plot point on Sopranos
It is weird in the vein of TMBG… did you know half of Barnes and Barnes was former child actor Billy Mumy?
Nope. I didn’t even know who Billy Mumy is. But I see he’s the Lost in Space kid (and from a bunch of other stuff). Cool!
ps. Who drew Scrooge? Is obviously isn’t Barks and I am almost sure it isn’t Don Rosa. 🙂
I believe that is a clip from the Disney version of “A Christmas carol” that always aired on TV every December when I was a kid…. so I’m sure it was drawn by a team of skilled animators! 🙂
ah! Thanks. 🙂