Apple Music's 'Drake vs. bench press' is charmingly goofy

Social video expert Unruly reviews the latest viral by Apple Music.

"While ‘Drake vs. Bench Press’ is already well on its way to winning over fans, we’re excited to see who Apple brings into the gym next for a bit of humiliation"


7.0 / 10

Anyone even vaguely familiar with rapper Drake knows that his goofiness is part of his charm.

While his music traffics in the sort of winking self-aggrandisement hip hop fans are familiar with (sample lyric: "Text from a centrefold, I ain’t reply / Let her know I read it though"), his public persona is far more silly than his music lets on. For proof, just check out his SNL appearances or thoroughly memeable album covers

Case in point: the musician’s latest collaboration with Apple Music, teasingly titled "Drake vs. bench press".

Promoting the brand’s online music service, the spot finds Drake at his most macho, pumping iron with the help of a tattooed trainer. However, when his spotter leaves the room for a moment, Drake indulges in his guilty pleasure: Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’. Anyone who’s accidentally had their embarrassing workout playlist (Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’, anyone?) suddenly blast out in public will understand his pain.

Lip-syncing along to Taylor’s dulcet tones, Drake goes about performing another set on the bench press. Now, for those unfamiliar with gym etiquette, Drake is in clear contravention of two very bedrock rules: 1) Never bench press without a spotter, and 2) never bench press while belting out Taylor Swift at the top of your lungs.

In the epic fight between musician and exercise equipment suggested by the title, Drake is definitely the loser. As you can expect, this is all pretty amusing, particularly the final shot of Drake tipping off the edge of the bench in final defeat. It’s not Apple’s first venture into comedy programming, however, with recent campaigns putting a greater emphasis on giggles than the company’s previously rather self-serious branding.

Specifically, "Drake vs. bench press" is a spiritual sequel to last year’s goofy spot, "Taylor vs. treadmill", which found the former country singer jamming along to Drake’s Jumpman. If this is all getting a bit confusing, don’t worry. Essentially, Apple’s new campaign strategy works on the same principle that has made Jimmy Fallon or James Corden’s late night shows such massive hits: taking celebrities and making them seem silly, stupid and charmingly fallible (human).

Speaking of Corden, the British talk show host starred in the flagship campaign for Apple Music earlier this year. As with Drake’s spot, there’s a certain self-consciousness to these campaigns which is ultimately rather winning. Whether or not you enjoy the work of the people involved, there is something heartening about seeing the impervious shell of celebrity punctured by a gesture as dramatically pure as someone falling off a treadmill or dropping a bench press on themselves.

While "Drake vs. bench press" is already well on its way to winning over fans, we’re excited to see who Apple brings into the gym next for a bit of humiliation. Elton John vs. rowing machine? Rihanna vs. squat rack? Or how about Michael Bublé facing off against a busted Powerade vending machine? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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