Though Vanilla Ice isn’t technically a one hit wonder, it’s evident that the sounds of “Ice Ice Baby” will always be what define him. Performing a dance rendition of the classic song on last night’s premiere episode of Dancing with the Stars, Robert Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice clearly embraced the near cult-like reception of the iconic tune.
The 1990 hit spurred critical acclaim upon its release, as it was the first hip hop single to top the Billboard charts. The song was credited as a means to moving rap music into the mainstream, and its lifted bassline from Queen and the late David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” drove it to be regaled as an inherent pop banger.
Yet, almost immediately after its initial success, “Ice Ice Baby” began losing its initial appeal and widespread criticism for the catchy beat became its new narrative. Fans and critics alike began viewing Vanilla Ice less as a legitimate rapper and more of a novelty. This notion was further perpetuated throughout the ’90s when fellow caucasian rapper on the scene, Eminem, said of the polarizing tune, “I felt like I didn’t want to rap anymore. I was so mad, because [Vanilla Ice] was making it real hard for me.”
This rapid rise and fall of the song, however, did not drive it into musical oblivion. Rather, it has become a cherished fixture in pop culture as it’s been featured in endless parodies and is recalled for its nostalgia value.
While some artists would perhaps lament if this were their ultimate destiny, Vanilla Ice takes it in stride. Beginning his stint on Dancing with the Stars, alongside his partner, Witney Cha Cha, the pair performed a dance rendition of the career defining tune through a medley of more classical dance techniques and hip hop moves. Welcoming a roar of cheers from the audience, it becomes obvious that with or without critical acclaim, “Ice Ice Baby” isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.