Here's The Creepy Backstory Behind 'Hey There Delilah'
Back in 2006, we couldn't get enough of "Hey There Delilah" -- not by choice, mind you. No matter where we went, from supermarkets to gyms to bars to (*checks notes*) screenings of Borat, it was there, lurking in the background, like an earworm that wanted to petrify our souls like some twangly-jangly saccharine gorgon death stare.
So you can imagine our absolute delight upon hearing that the song is now, 12 years after the fact, being turned into a "scripted romantic dramedy" about a songwriter who falls in love with a university student and "pledges to write a song for the young woman ... [a] promise [that] changes their lives in unexpected ways." In other words, it's How I Met Your Mother, but with an interminable, one-song soundtrack.
As much as we wish this song didn't exist, our pain probably pales in comparison to that of Delilah DiCrescenzo -- who in 2002 was studying at Columbia. She met Tom Higgenson, the future frontman for the Plain White T's, at a party, where he -- thinking "she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen" -- attempted to woo her by saying that he was going to write her a song. The fact that DiCrescenzo already had a boyfriend didn't stop Higgenson, who subsequently went on to write this verse about a woman with whom, as he later admitted, he had no romantic connection:
Hey there, Delilah,
Don't you worry about the distance,
I'm right there if you get lonely,
Give this song another listen,
Close your eyes,
Listen to my voice, it's my disguise,
I'm by your side.
If you want to know what DiCrescenzo thought of the song, which went on to sell more than 4 million copies in the U.S. alone, check out this interview in which she described hearing it for the first time:
My first thought: "Oh no! Did I lead Tom on?" I became anxious. I was with Will. I'm still with Will to this day. Tom and I had a friendly relationship and I wondered if he misconstrued my actions. He put so much effort into the song. I felt guilty, like, "I'm such a wench!"
I didn't want the spotlight. I was nervous that I'd let Tom's fans down. They'd be disappointed to hear I have a boyfriend. Every girl would want a song written about her, and they'd think I was ungrateful and rude to deny Tom. I felt pressure to live up to those expectations.
And in a 2007 interview with USA Today, DiCrescenzo elaborated on how exactly the song had turned her life into an existential nightmare:
When I'm at the gym, it's playing; when I'm at the pool, it's playing [...] Part of me wants to scream at the top of my lungs that it's about me. Another part of me wants to cower and say it's not.
For what it's worth, DiCrescenzo did eventually become used to the song (which she kinda had to, really), and later explained, "I'm a lucky girl. If it wasn't for me, I'm sure Tom would've been inspired by a different girl and written an amazing song about her." Which we suppose is a nice, if somewhat ominous, sentiment.
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