Cantab Students 'Face' the Music

There’s got to be something about the Facebook and Cambridge. The site was birthed here in our so-named river town, and now, as further proof of this rather unscientific correlation, students at Cambridge University in England have given Facebook an anthem.

The appropriately-titled “The Facebook Song,” written by two undergraduate music students—Tommy Hewitt Jones and Pete Foggitt—has taken the online community by storm, leaving in its wake polemical new groups on facebook.com, a renaissance for the synthesized orchestra hit, and increasingly vocal recognition for its composers ever since its web-launch in early February.

According to Edward Bainton, a close friend of Jones and Foggitt who both produced and mastered the song, the concept occured to the duo as they sat in a Cambridge bar, discussing the obscene amounts of time they waste on the Facebook.

“Tommy especially has this track record for making silly songs, and in the past we’ve recorded silly songs about things that have taken our fancy,” says Bainton. So the friends decided to waste some more time—four days in the studio, according to Bainton—writing and producing a song about wasting time online.

The response has been enormous. Bainton says the song has been downloaded by over 40,000 visitors to his website, fbsong.com, and estimates that as many as 60,000 people may have heard it. The song is available in both regular and karaoke versions on the website. T-shirts and baseball caps bearing the message “I’ve got a friend in Kazakhstan,” a line from the song, are being sold through another website, and a video is nearly finished and will be uploaded shortly, says Bainton.

Details about the content of the video are fuzzy, but rumors have been circulating on the song’s official Facebook group, “The Facebook Song.”

Musically, the song bears an uncanny resemblance to Tony Christie’s “The Way to Amarillo.” The two songs are in the same key, the chord progressions are nearly identical, and the melodies echo one another very nearly. These similarities only add to the absurd hilarity of a song that includes lines like “I poked her first on Sunday / Then she messaged me on Monday / So we slept together / It seemed like the right thing to do.”

Cambridge University’s own student newspaper, “Varsity,” began their article on the song with: “Let’s get this clear first. The song is s***.”

There’s clearly a certain degree of irony that the Cambridge paper seems to have elected to ignore. Jones—who is both an organist and a composer when not writing Broadway synth jams about websites—is an officer in the Facebook group, “The Facebook Song is Terrible.”

He seems to have laughingly embraced his increasingly recognizable connection with the Facebook, as other group memberships include “The Facebook Song Group,” “Facebook,” “Facebook Group,” and “Group,” a group for “people who are a member of this group.”

Bainton says that response from the people who run the Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, Class of 2006, and company, has been fairly neutral. He says that though people at facebook.com were contacted, offers from the musicians to work together on publicity were rejected.

Still, Bainton notes, the song—which has garnered large amounts of attention—is nothing less than free advertising for facebook.com. Bainton isn’t bothered by this, however, as making money was never the goal. As he says, “The whole thing just started out as a joke really, you know, to make people laugh.”