Since its inception, South Park has drawn much of its comedy from musical juxtaposition, running fairly innocent songs and genres through a meat grinder of vulgarity. The season-four finale swapped out life with excrement in the Lion King sendup “The Circle Of Poo.” Broadway showtimes served as a backdrop for oral sex in Season 15's “Broadway Bro Down.” There have been boy-band ditties about finger-banging, a “Somewhere Out There” ripoff sung by a mouse with a human penis growing out of its back, and so on.
In anticipation of the show’s upcoming 25th season, South Park has continued the trend by giving classy orchestral treatments to some of its most well-known songs. Each one is essentially a parody of a parody, complete with a conductor, focused instrumentalists, and passionate vocalists belting the profane lyrics with sincere vibrato. So far, we’ve gotten orchestral renditions of the show’s iconic theme song, “Kyle’s Mom,” and “Gay Fish”—the instant-classic homage to 808s & Heartbreak-era Kanye. Today, South Park Studios unveiled a classed-up version of “Jackin’ It In San Diego.”
South Park fans will remember the song from season 16's “Butterballs,” where Butters finds himself getting bullied by his own grandmother. In an effort to help his friend and combat the bullying epidemic at large, Stan produces a music video that only exploits Butters further. Telling Stan that he’s making the anti-bullying campaign more about himself and not about the people actually being harmed, Kyle warns him that he’ll soon find himself “naked and jacking it in San Diego.”
This is of course a reference to Jason Russell, the filmmaker behind the viral documentary “Kony 12” who had a mental breakdown and ended up doing the very thing described by Kyle (or at least an approximation of it). At the end of “Butterballs,” Stan follows suit while his very own theme music—a kind of jaunty California road song—merrily plays in the background.
While “Jackin’ It” certainly sounds more opulent with a 30-piece orchestra, it still retains its an undeniable sense of joy, especially when Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny pop in to try their hand at conducting. See how the new version stacks against the original, and tune into South Park (and our review coverage) when it returns on February 2.