Sunday, March 29, 2020

Best Epic Rap Battles of History (By Season)

Look, we're all bored here, so let's award the best Epic Rap Battles of History for each season.

Season One

Winner: Albert Einstein vs. Stephen Hawking
Honorable Mentions: Dr. Seuss vs. Shakespeare, Napoleon vs. Napoleon

The season that started it all. Honestly, though, I think only Einstein vs. Hawking can compete with the stronger entrants in later seasons. The creators -- reasonably enough! -- were still finding their rhythm (get it?).

Season Two
Winner: Michael Jackson vs. Elvis
Runner-up: Rasputin vs. Stalin
Honorable Mentions: Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates, Cleopatra vs. Marilyn Monroe

Now we're cooking. The kid who plays young Michael Jackson was superb, and carries his battle to victory. The Rasputin vs. Stalin (vs. Lenin vs. Gorbachev vs. Putin) battle was strong almost top-to-bottom (only Gorbachev was a bit of a sour note for me). Jobs vs. Gates was a ton of a fun (remember those Mac vs. PC ads?). And Cleopatra vs. Monroe was a superb all-women battle with some truly vicious disses. Freddie Mercury's performance over Frank Sinatra was also a stand-out, but he won so convincingly the battle was actually too one-sided to make this list.

Season Three
Winner: Isaac Newton vs. Bill Nye
Runner-up: Edgar Allen Poe vs. Stephen King
Honorable Mention: Bob Ross vs. Pablo Picasso 

It's tough to top getting Weird Al in one of these (though if Neil deGrasse Tyson had actually played himself -- which I've heard he was willing to do -- it would have been even cooler). Stephen King has one of the best closing lines in the whole series. Bob Ross vs. Picasso is relatively light, but consistent all the way through. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vs. their namesake Renaissance Artists was good, but the performance was a little short. I also suspect I'm virtually alone in thinking that Miley Cyrus beat Joan of Arc (and pretty decisively, frankly).

Season Four
Winner: Stan Lee vs. Jim Henson
Runner-up: Western Philosophers vs. Eastern Philosophers
Honorable Mention: Ellen vs. Oprah

If you forced me to pick my absolute, all-time favorite, I'd probably go with Lee vs. Henson -- but it'd be torture. If you asked to pick me single favorite verse, though, it'd be Walt Disney's intervention in Lee vs. Henson -- and it would not be close. It's brilliant from start to finish (and, to be clear, compliments very strong work from Lee and Henson). As a political theorist, I found the philosophy battle hilarious. Ellen vs. Oprah is also a very good, evenly matched battle (and one of the few "clean" ones on ERB).

Season Five
Winner: George R.R. Martin vs. J.R.R. Tolkien
Runner-up: Gordon Ramsay vs. Julia Child
Honorable Mentions: Tony Hawk vs. Wayne Gretzky, Ash Ketchum vs. Charles Darwin

This was an absolutely loaded season -- I think clearly ERB's strongest overall. Tolkien's final verse where he works in all the titles of the Lord of the Rings is just masterful. I'm a dedicated Gordon Ramsay fan but Julia Child completely kicked his ass. Tony Hawk's incredible first verse is matched by Wayne Gretzky's brutal last verse. And Darwin has one of the great one-liners of all-time calling Ash "Mighty Morphin' Michael Vick." All that talent means a ton of tracks I love don't even make it onto the honorable mentions list here: (Daniel Craig) James Bond vs. Austin Powers, Ivan the Terrible versus various "the Greats", Wonder Women versus Stevie Wonder, and Winston Churchill versus Theodore Roosevelt are all superb.

Season Six
Winner: Guy Fawkes vs. Che Guevara
Runner-up: Elon Musk vs. Mark Zuckerberg
Honorable Mention: Ronald McDonald vs. The Burger King

This was a shaky season on the whole, but Fawkes vs. Guevara is one of the best in the entire series -- a distinction based primarily around the dead-on Che Guevara portrayal (who knew he also looks exactly like John Snow), but certainly with an impressive toe-to-toe performance from Fawkes. Musk vs. Zuckerberg has a wonderful subtle gag running through it in that Mark "I don't even fucking blink" Zuckerberg in fact never blinks during the whole video. The McDonald vs. Burger King rap sneaks into honorable mention, but not due to either of the titular characters -- Wendy steals the show. Wendy's the company actually tweeted about the rap, which is a bit gutsy given their mascot's line about how she's "exploiting you both like you were growing my tomatoes."

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