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This ‘Official’ Citi Bike Anthem Is Horny as Hell

"Citibike" by musicians ZAB and Park Angel had us believing in advertising miracles. Plus, more links for your Thursday.

“Caught you looking at my titties on a Citi Bike / I know what you’re gonna do when you’re in bed tonight”, goes the song’s chorus. (Michael Appleton / Mayoral Photography Office)

For about two hours this week, the Hell Gate staff lived in a world where the song "Citibike" by New York musicians ZAB and Park Angel was, as advertised on a fairly convincing (if you ask us) spoof website and some QR codes on stickers around the city, the officially designated Citi Bike anthem. When I put on my headphones, expecting some bland corporate rap or by-committee rock song, the chorus took me by surprise, especially with its line, "Caught you looking at my titties on a Citi Bike / I know what you're gonna do when you're in bed tonight." 

Did "Citibike" signal a new, more radical era of advertising? Aside from the lyrics, the song was internet-y and effervescent, and had a totally contemporary sound. I was briefly impressed by the gall of the advertisers and bureaucrats who approved its selection. 

We desperately wanted to believe that something weird and interesting had somehow taken place. But then, as it tends to, reality quickly seeped in. (Alternative headline for this post: "We Messed Up: We Thought Something Cool Happened.") We may have missed some obvious clues: Huh, this "official Citi Bike song" website doesn't really work and none of the links go anywhere. And yeah, the lyrics are a bit libertine for a corporate product that would have gone through what one would imagine to be a lattice of public-private approval processes. And, oh yeah, "Citibike" is not really the official spelling. And then the shoe dropped: A representative from Lyft confirmed they had nothing to do with the website or the song. This, unfortunately, is not the world where Lyft and the New York City government commissioned a song about masturbation that's adorned with twinkling guitars and synths.

Oh well. I got ZAB and Park Angel on the phone yesterday to congratulate them on getting us and to talk about where the song came from. 

Hell Gate: First of all, good prank.

ZAB: Thanks, we appreciate that. 

What made you want to write a song about Citi Bike?

ZAB: Me personally, I ride Citi Bikes all the time. I got catcalled a lot on Citi Bikes, which is really a strange occurrence, because sometimes you get catcalled by someone who's also on a bike, or on a moped, and you just can't escape it. But I got catcalled a while ago, I was biking along and someone just said "jiggle" at me, and I thought that was really funny. And I just couldn't stop being like, "I caught you looking at my titties on a Citi Bike!" 

Park Angel: A reclamation of the occurrence.

ZAB: Exactly. It felt so good to say, and I was like, that has to go into a song.

I don't bike but a lot of my coworkers do bike, and we were talking about what it would be like to ride around listening to the song, and how it would be so groovy.

ZAB: That was exactly the vibe, it was like…

Park Angel: A personal catcall, if you will.

ZAB: Yeah, there you go. It was a catcall to myself, being like, "I look great, please don't talk to me. You can just look at me."

We were talking about the Le Tigre song, "My My Metrocard," in terms of anthems to NYC transportation infrastructure. 

ZAB: I feel like it's so ingrained in the fabric of everything about New York. It's just a huge part of what you go through.

Park Angel: Whatever your commute, that's very personal to you. And this is, like, the Citi Bike era.

ZAB: Since COVID happened, that's when I started [riding Citi Bikes]. Because I was like, "I'm not going on the train, because that's spooky," and I didn't have a bike either. People spend, like, two hours commuting, daily, on average. It takes, like, 30 to 45 minutes to get anywhere.

Commuting is a huge part of your psychic life.

ZAB: Yeah, it's very personal. You have your routine, and all of a sudden you've done the same thing every single day. Like, I take the exact same route on my bike every day. And yeah, you write what you know. 

These links are a huge part of my psychic life…

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