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How One Student Accidentally Brought the Internet to its Knees with a Brilliant Vampire Weekend Hoax

By Ryan Bassil

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Yesterday afternoon, the entire Internet was buzzing about the prospect of a new Vampire Weekend record. Despite being a couple years on, it seems people are still intoxicated by the idea of cardigan-clad campus kids playing jittery, afro-pop, Graceland pastiche. A bunch more websites were so excited about colored chino music's return that they took it one step further and reported the album's new artwork and track listing. They were SO excited, in fact, that it must have slipped their mind to check their sources, because the whole thing turned out to be a hoax. 

Websites quickly backtracked, deleting their posts and covering their previously earnest soaked footsteps. They wanted to be first to post the new information, but as soon as they were called out by XL—who reported that the purported album cover was, indeed, a fake—they wanted to be first to delete it. 

Obviously, as publications pulled the story, it’s hard to find the original source of the image. Yet, This Is Fake DIY did a little digging and found that the original artwork was created by a student, for a class assignment. 

The rules were simple. Take a photo of a lemon. Post it on Facebook. Whoever gets the most “likes” wins. Thomas Calabrese, the guy behind the Vampire Weekend cover deserves an A. 

He shared the photo along with this text:

“I’m excited to share the artwork I did for Vampire Weekend’s album coming out later this year. I was told I wasn’t able to talk about the project until it launched, and this morning I was sent their teaser website! I did a lot of variations and was happy to see they picked the more out there design.”

The guy had done his research. The artwork included a link to a website that he created. His tracklisting included songs that the band had played live or mentioned in interviews. On Tuesday, when the band announced their album release, his artwork convinced the world that Vampy Weeks' new record was called Lemon Sounds

That wasn’t even the original intention. He only posted the photo on his Facebook page. Reportedly, he didn’t send a press release to any news website. He was just a kid in search of a good GPA. I can only wish that my class projects would have gone viral. 

But the deeper concentration of this story boils down to two things:

1. Despite the death threats, artwork isn’t dead in a digital age. It’s viewed through a 1080p screen, so what? HD looks nice. People obviously still care enough about it to share it around and write news stories about it. 

2. Where the fact-checkers at?

 

Follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanBassil

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