He has a pen. He has a heart.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been five whole years since people around the world went crazy for a one-minute song about a pen, a pineapple, an apple, and a pen. But as catchy a tune as it was, we all knew it was to be short-lived, perhaps no one better than Piko Taro himself.
▼ Juuuuust in case you forgot…
He certainly made the most of his time in the spotlight though, opening pop-up cafes, appearing on Sesame Street, and even attending the Grammys. However, a few months later everyone seemed to have had their fill of “Pen Pineapple Apple Pen” and moved on to the next big thing, which I think was fidget spinners if memory serves.
Piko Taro came out with some follow-up tracks which were just as bouncy and downright moving at times, but still failed to grip the world like “PPAP” had. This left Piko at a crossroads that few have to face, He could have just clung to the success of his one song and pick up a few bucks here and there when it gets sampled or if asked to provide some 2016 nostalgia to certain events.
But he choose a different route and parlayed his existing global fame into helping make a difference around the world. In 2017 Piko Taro was appointed a Sustainable Development Goals Ambassador for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tasked with promoting both at home and abroad the 17 goals laid out by the UN to be achieved by 2030, such as ensuring quality education, gender equality, and improving health and well-being.
It’s a position he still holds to this day and in April of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was taking root, Piko Taro released “PPAP 2020” with noticeably different lyrics that centered on hand washing.
It was a nice attempt to cheer people up when fear and uncertainty about the novel coronavirus was at its peak, and it reminded us of the consistently most important method of infection prevention. However, most of us were probably unaware that the song had the biggest impact in the parts of the world that needed it the most.
The vaccination rate of Zambia is currently a little under two percent and the country is home to many foods that are eaten using one’s hands. While they have been doing a relatively good job at keeping COVID-19 under control with about 200,000 cases to date and under 4,000 deaths, hand washing remains at the frontline of Zambian defense and the kids there have gotten an important leg up thanks to the power of PPAP, as seen in this video.
Back in Japan, netizens were impressed with the good work Piko Taro has been up to.
“He’s so good at it, because he sends a serious message in a goofy appearance that kids will listen too.”
“Good Job, Piko Taro!”
“Really?! This is what he’s doing now?”
“Lol, he’s saving the world.”
“That guy is incapable of doing anything bad, isn’t he.”
It would certainly seem that Piko Taro is about as big a mensch as they come, and genuinely seems to be fueled by doing good in the world.
ザンビアでやってくれてるピコ！— ピコ太郎(PIKOTARO)(公式) (@pikotaro_ppap) September 13, 2021
I'm so happy! Keep copying, kids! https://t.co/fxfGBQoX9V
And lest we forget that only a few months ago he lent his support to the world’s first official Paralympics video game by giving a free virtual concert to players around the world.
He’s such a nice guy it kind of makes me hope he’ll have another mega-hit earworm in the future. Maybe he can write something about mashing different flavors of Cup Noodle together, because everyone loves Cheechili Curmato.