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Taco Bell Wrangles Dolly Parton and Doja Cat Into Doing a TikTok Musical

No more spon-con. Comes the day you say, “What for?” Please, no more. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Getty Images

Doja Cat both subverted and mastered the fickle art of celebrity spokesmanship on March 8 when she posted a hilarious video, saying, “I gotta do this fucking TikTok … Everybody keeps calling it a jingle. It’s for Taco Bell, and I gotta do this fucking jingle.” She scrunches her nose at the offending word. “They want me to rap about Mexican pizza, so I just want to give you a heads-up before you see that shit. Just know: It’s contractual.” We at Vulture Food Labs have written about fast-food brands collaborating with popular artists for almost two years, but Doja is the first to pull back the curtain and mock her own involvement in this particular kind of spon-con. And because nothing from the depths of TikTok or the kitchens of Taco Bell can ever be truly organic, this inspired Taco Bell to stage a Mexican-pizza musical starring Dolly Parton to celebrate the return of the product. Of course, Taco Bell has long had a satirical bent to its advertising, so my cynical hunch is Doja Cat’s display of candor was actually a company-approved way of instilling ideas of “authenticity” (no makeup) and “subversion” (calling the jingle bad) into Doja Cat fans’ engagement with the brand. That was just the setup to an excellent punch line …

… Because of course Doja’s jingle was actually very good. “I hope you like it,” she says in a pitched-up advertorial voice, “and if you don’t, I understand.” The “monstrosity of a beat,” as she calls it, features a gerblinlike voice saying “refried beeeeans” and a Taco Bell dong on the start of every eight count. It’s trollish and catchy and ends with her riffing on the “Krusty Krab pizza is the pizza for you and me” song from the 1999 “Pizza Delivery” episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. By the end of the day, TikToker Victor Kunda had already made a fake rehearsal video for “Taco Bell: The Musical” in the style of the Ratatousical craze of 2020.

And on May 9, Dolly Parton announced she is a “#tacobellpartner” who will be taking part in Mexican Pizza: The Musical, posting a picture of a script written by Hannah Friedman with music by the Grammy-winning duo behind The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear. Apparently, Miss Dolly said something about Mexican pizzas in an interview in January. Taco Bell has been playing the celeb-spon nostalgia-feed long game with this one. Will Dolly be off book when the musical advertisement debuts on May 26th at 5 p.m. ET on TikTok Live? And did chief impact officer Lil Nas X get a say in any of this?

Taco Bell Has Dolly and Doja Doing a TikTok Musical Now