The tune from Canadian reggae band Magic! became No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. In it, singer Nasri Atweh asks a father's permission to marry his daughter, and when the father refuses, Atweh says he's "gonna marry her anyway."
As father of an 11-year-old girl, Benji Cowart didn't appreciate that line.
"I was like, 'You know what? I need to write a response to that' because the dads of the world are not being represented well," said Cowart, a professional Christian-music songwriter who lives in this Nashville suburb. He's also an instructor for the National Praise and Worship Institute at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.
Cowart wrote new lyrics to the melody of “Rude,” calling it “The Dad's Side of the Story.” He filmed himself performing the song with an acoustic guitar, and uploaded the video to YouTube. Within days, it was a viral sensation and has been viewed almost 5 million times in less than a week.
"Why you gotta call me rude | for doing what a dad should do | and keep her from a fool like you," Cowart sings in the video, recorded in his home. His wife, Jenna, walks through the frame a couple of times, carrying a laundry basket and singing harmony on the chorus.
The couple also write and perform their own music and recorded an album together in 2012. On Wednesday, they released a high-quality version of the Rude parody for purchase on Cowart's website.
Cowart said he didn't set out to write a viral song. When he listens to pop music with his daughter and two sons, ages 14 and 8, he finds himself making up new words on the spot.
While he's had success as a songwriter with artists like Big Daddy Weave cutting his tunes, he's amused that his “Rude” parody is the song that instantly reached millions.
"It's just funny," he said. "You go, 'Of all things, this is what takes off.' But if that's how the story's going to be written, then that's fine."
Magic! has shared the Cowarts' version on Twitter, and after doing some more research into the group and their perspective on the song, Cowart has deemed the band "class acts."
Both versions of “Rude” are based on hypothetical situations, after all, and Cowart is pretty sure he won't have to tell a potential son-in-law the things he says in his song.
"If I do my job as a dad and love my daughter the way I should, hopefully I'll set the bar (for a husband) high enough," he said.