It's unclear what we've done to deserve this, and there's no way to explain why it exists, but somehow—between posing for the cover of German GQ, getting drop-kicked in the back in South Africa, narrating a documentary about the ocean, reprising his role in the new Terminator, and selflessly helping out the elderly—Arnold Schwarzenegger managed to find time to make a rap song. It's natural to assume this thing would be painfully, unbelievably bad, and given what normally happens when people who probably shouldn't rap try to (not to mention the fact that Schwarzenegger is a 71-year-old white man), the song should, by all accounts, be terrible. But no: It is incredible. It is, bafflingly, perhaps the greatest thing this world has ever seen.
For some inexplicable reason, Schwarzenegger teamed up with Austrian singer Andreas Gabalier (who gave us hits like "Hulapalu," "Hallihallo," and "Zuckerpuppen") for a new track called "Pump It Up (The Motivation Song)." The song, and its accompanying video, are nothing short of a revelation. Please, put aside your doubts for a moment, and just listen:
Right out of the gate, we're treated to a classic Schwarzenegger "hasta la vista, babyyy" before hearing what sounds like the backing track to a Natalie Imbruglia song—an admittedly strange artistic choice but, as it turns out, an impeccable one. Then Gabalier basically just starts aggressively listing off facts about Arnold's life: "He was born in Austria," we learn; he was "only 19 when he became a steel machine / in the Gold's Gym of Venice Beach… town," an establishment in which much of the video is shot. This is all just a warm-up to what has to be the single most unlikely bridge ever written, a surging, epic, tenuously sensical description of Schwarzenegger in all his glory:
Terminator, superstar /
They call you Conan the Barbar /
Pumpin' iron, steel machine /
Living legend, evergreen [???] /
GOVERNATOOOOR, Mr. Universe Olympia!
Gabalier continues to enumerate the trajectory of Schwarzenegger's career—he went to Hollywood, got famous, starred in Hercules in New York—until, at long last, we hear from the man himself. This verse is what the song is all about: It is impossible, upon hearing it, to feel anything but inspired, gloriously uplifted, capable of realizing your full potential and achieving the impossible. These are, without question, the purest bars in the history of hip-hop:
Hey, I’m Arnold Schwarzenegger, listen carefully /
Dig deep down and ask yourself, who do you want to be? /
Not what but who, if you believe, success will come to you /
Work like hell, trust yourself and all your dreams come true.
Do you have goosebumps? Do you feel the urge to trek immediately to Nepal and climb Mt. Everest? Do you see yourself, perhaps for the first time, as the powerful, capable, beautiful soul you were born to become? Yes! Of course you do!
At this point, Schwarzenegger gives up on the whole rhyming thing and just kind of starts talking, but you know what? Who cares. This is Whitman-level poetry, an earth-shattering quatrain that needs no rhyme scheme, requires no resemblance to standard songwriting. It is beyond music; it is sheer perfection:
Break some rules, not the law, don’t be afraid to fail /
You have to think outside the box, I say no pain no gain /
I don’t want to hear it can’t be done, give always something back /
My name is Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’ll be back.
Does "fail" even remotely sound like "gain?" Did he really just rhyme "back" with "back?" Did he use the line "My name is Arnold Schwarzenegger" twice in one verse? These questions are of no importance. The sheer power of the message, the purity of these words, the degree to which this man makes you want to conquer your fears and show the world who you really are—all of this exempts Schwarzenegger from the constraints of typical songwriting, the meaningless rubric we apply to determining what makes a "song" "good." This is what music is all about, and not only that—this is what life is all about. Don't do crimes. No pain no gain. Give always something back.
Thank you, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Andreas Gabalier, for blessing us with the gift that is "Pump It Up (The Motivation Song)." We hope you really meant it when you said "I'll be back," like, ten thousand times during this song. We can't wait to hear what you dream up next.
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