Patrice Wilson knows exactly what you like. And right now, it’s his latest earworm sensation, “Chinese Food.” That’s because he knows what he likes, too, and, well, it’s Chinese food.
“I wrote [the song] last July the night before my birthday when I was sitting down with some China Express takeaway,” said Wilson, who penned the instant video hit from Alison Gold, as well as previous viral smashes “Friday”
and “It’s Thanksgiving.”
“I just thought, ‘Wait a second, I love Chinese food! I can make that a song because there are no Chinese food songs out there!’” He knew that because he Googled it and realized there was nothing approaching the kind of pop hit he had in mind. He took the song concept to his team — who know about his love of Asian cuisine because he’s always suggesting it for lunch — and they loved the idea too.
Half an hour later, “Food” was done (which is 15 minutes more than “Friday” took him) and the rest, as they say is Internet history. “When you sing about stuff you love, it’s not hard.”
The video starring 13-year-old Gold has racked up more than 5.6 million views in its first 48 hours, and, like “Friday,” it has also set off discussions about its awfulness (as well as some charges of racial insensitivity) and generated way more dislikes (67,534 at press time) than likes (15,010) so far.
“I’ve read the comments and, hey, there’s Chinese food everywhere … people can say what they want to say, it’s their opinion,” he said of the charges from some that the clip is marred by Asian stereotypes. “My intent was to show the world that Patrice Wilson loves Chinese food. If they want to take it that way [negatively] that’s their prerogative.”
None of the haterade bothers the perpetually sunny-dispositioned Wilson, 35. “I don’t take that criticism to heart,” said the global citizen, whose mother is English and father African, which he said explains his sometimes hard-to-place accent, picked up from living in Nigeria, England and the Czech Republic.
Sure, some also complain his songs are simplistic, but that’s exactly the point. You hear them one time and they stick in your brain, whether you like it or not. “At the end of the day you’re singing the song and you can’t get it out of your head,” he said. “You’re asking, ‘Why am I singing ‘Chinese Food?’ I hate that stupid song, but I have to sing it!’”
Wilson said he chose Gold after a nearly three-month search. She had already appeared another one of his less-successful productions, the Tweenchronic “Skip Rope” video and he remembered her fun, “bubbly” personality and image and realized the answer was right under his nose.
“She sang the demo and it sounded great and I knew immediately that I had the perfect person for ‘Chinese Food,’” he said, noting that it didn’t hurt that Gold also loves Chinese food, and broccoli. Posted on Tuesday, the video took off way faster that Wilson anticipated, but given his expertise at making sticky songs, he was pretty confident his formula would strike gold again.
“People say there’s no formula for viral videos, but there actually is,” he said. “Chinese food is worldwide. I’ve been to different parts of the world and I always see Chinese food. I love Chinese food, I love chicken wings. Who doesn’t love Chinese food? I had a good feeling about it.”
The video was filmed a month ago and though it was his idea to dress up in a panda suit (his original idea of a dragon costume seemed too scary), Wilson said he quickly regretted it because it was a 90-degree day in Burbank.. He also explained that the confounding subtitles in multiple languages were another nod to the undeniable global affection for chow-m-m-m-m-mein and wontons.
“It’s a passion,” Wilson said of the songs he writes. “People say, ‘Why do you sound like that?’ Or ‘Why do you write lyrics like that?’ It’s not intentional. The way I speak is because I have an accent and say certain things [in a way that] people make fun of me. My culture is from around the world and it shows in my songs. It’s what makes me different from other producers.”
And, just when you think you have him figured out and are expecting a sequel about Labor Day, Mexican or Italian food, Wilson said he and Gold will surprise you. “It’s gonna be pretty cool,” he said cryptically of their next potential hit. “It’s kind of associated with the video now, but it will move on to something else.”