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Songwriters hit it big with Obama parody

Robert Lund
Robert Lund
Robert Lund

Most radio listeners in Utah have heard Robert Lund's songs. He writes jingles and parodies based on pop hits.

He records songs such as "Who Let the Elves Out," a parody of "Who Let the Dogs Out."

A few years ago, he teamed up with lyricist M. Spaff Sumsion. And they've had songs hit the syndicated "Dr. Demento Show," a countdown of strange and funny songs.

Well, one of their collaborations "Save Me, Obama" — based on the Beatles' "Lady Madonna" — was voted Dr. Demento's No. 1 song of 2009.

It beat out songs by the likes of "Weird Al" Yankovic and Flight of the Conchords.

And "Save Me, Obama," which pokes fun at the expectations for the new president, is the first political song in 20 years to hit No. 1 on the show.

In a statement, Demento — born Barry Hansen — praised Lund and Sumsion's songs.

"Since 2005, the Lund-Sumsion collaboration has landed more new song parodies by far on the 'Dr. Demento Show' that any other artist," he said.

Lund and Sumsion said they're honored.

"It's not just the requests and the voting from the listeners, it's really kind of left to his discretion on which ones are in his countdown," Lund told the Deseret News. "He's pretty much in charge."

He believes "Save Me, Obama" isn't one of their best songs, but that the president is a hot topic these days.

"We've done a lot of other songs that were produced better and even funnier," Lund said. "But because of what's been happening with Obama and the timeliness of this tune and what it says, I think that's the reason this one did so well."

"We got it out there right after Obama took office," said Sumsion, whose day job is vice president of iTransact, a company that offers merchant accounts to businesses. "There were a lot of really astronomical expectations for the guy from both ends of the political spectrum.

"I thought it was funny that everybody thought that this new president would save the world within the first couple of months."

The duo released the song early in 2009. And it was kept alive because Obama was in the headlines throughout the year.

Lund was quick to say Sumsion's lyrics are what drove this song to the top.

"It's more because of the content than my production," Lund said. "Spaff's just a great writer."

Sumsion countered that the song wouldn't have been anything without Lund.

"Now come on," he said. "Robert does all the instruments and all the vocals himself. And I wouldn't know where to begin with that stuff."

And there was the Beatles connection. On Sept. 9, their songs were released for the Beatles Rock Band video game, and all the albums were remastered for two box sets.

"The Beatles had a big year in 2009," said Sumsion with a laugh.

Lund said a few years ago, he wouldn't have touched a Beatles song for one of his parodies.

"The Beatles used to be taboo for me," said Lund. "Nobody messes with the Beatles.

"But anymore, it's free game. ... They're on video games and insurance company commercials."