As you watch your own back this April Fools' Day, have a look at the 10 greatest pranks ever pulled by musicians -- from Coldplay's smelliness to Nicki Minaj's "nuptials" to John Mayer's bear ego.
Trent Reznor's Timbaland Collab
Leave it to the always iconoclastic Trent Reznor -- the first rock star we know who built an entire Alternate Reality Game around an album -- to announce a new Nine Inch Nails record called "Strobelight" incongruously produced by hip-hop beatmaker Timbaland.
With rocker Chris Cornell having released a Timbaland-produced effort not long before news of "Strobelight" broke, a headline about a Timbaland/NIN album sounded almost possible. Hey, NIN even posted a download page on its website. But consider the date of the announcement (April 1, 2009), the fact that just a couple of weeks earlier Reznor slammed Cornell's record on Twitter, and the actual contents of that download page, and you have the perfect recipe for an ideal rock 'n' roll April Fool's Day gag.
That "Strobelight" page on NIN.com remains hilarious, featuring a lame rock beat straight out of GarageBand on autoplay, Reznor on the purported album cover wearing Kanye-esque shutter-shades, song titles like "Pussygrinder featuring Sheryl Crow" (!), and a riff about how the email address you give to get the $28.98 "free" album, "will be kept confidential and will not be used for spam, unless we can make some money selling it." Two years later, we're still laughing.
Joaquin Phoenix 'Still Here' As Rapper
Fans were thoroughly confused when a disheveled, unreceptive Joaquin Phoenix appeared on "The Late Show with David Letterman" in January 2009, shortly after "retiring" from acting in late 2008 in order to pursue a music career. But when a "documentary" chronicling Phoenix's transition from respected actor to aspiring rapper saw a release in September 2010, the public chatter over the validity of the film -- titled "I'm Still Here" -- was overwhelming. Even we fell for it.
Shortly after the film's theatrical release, Phoenix's directorial parter-in-crime, Casey Affleck, revealed to the press that the whole thing was a hoax. Soon after, a clean-shaven, coherent Phoenix appeared on "Letterman," again as his actor self. As we found, the man who so poignantly took on "The Man in Black" was not suited for the hip-hop life.
The film's shocking content not only portrayed Phoenix as a pathetic Diddy hanger-on and a talentless rapper, but also a violent character with an affinity for cocaine and hookers -- an elaborate persona that Phoenix carried on with for nearly two years. With that in mind, we have to wonder, who was the true victim of the prank? Fans who believed the actor was seriously -- and delusionally -- pursuing a hip-hop career, or Phoenix himself?
Björk Says She's Fronting Led Zeppelin
In April 1, 2009, Björk not only came out as a Led Zeppelin superfan, but announced she'd taken a job as the band's new singer, according to her official site. The statement said that Björk took the position out of fear Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant was too involved with his collaborations with Alison Krauss to tour, and under the conditions that only songs from Zep's "I" and "IV" would be played. The imaginary tour was "scheduled" to start June 2009.
John Mayer's Bear Costume
2013 Billboard cover star John Mayer might be known for his heart-on-sleeve ballads, but he's also got a wacky sense of humor. In his earlier days, he used to dress up in a bear costume and joke around with fans prior to his concerts, often at his own self-aware expense. VH1 captured one such set of hi-jinx in the clip above.
But Mayer's fans weren't the only ones to get pranked. Throughout a 2006 tour with Sheryl Crow, Mayer had been joining Crow onstage for a performance of their duet "My Favorite Mistake." On the tour's final night, he took the stage wearing the infamous suit. Crow found the surprise so un-bear-able (oh!) that she forgot many of the words to the song's second verse.
Paul Is Dead?
While "Paul is dead" was more of a rumor that The Beatles jokingly furthered than a prank they set out to play, the alleged 1966 death of Paul McCartney remains one of music's greatest tricks. The Fab Four's press rep, Derek Taylor, reportedly deemed the rumor "a load of old rubbish," but the musical clues -- many of which seem more than just coincidental -- kept fans believing.
The urban legend was perpetuated by American DJs and college newspapers, as fans found used lyrical references and iconography on Beatles album art that suggested that Paul, who was involved in a traffic accident in 1967, had actually died. McCartney was reportedly replaced by a look-alike named Billy Shears, who is mentioned by named as the fictional bandleader of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" during the album's title track. Subtle clues from the album's supposedly funeral-inspired album cover sent believers into a frenzy -- a pattern revisited on the "Abbey Road" album cover, which some believed to symbolically portray a funeral procession.
Lyrically, the release of "The White Album" stood as a pointed tongue-in-cheek statement from The Beatles, who have since admitted having fun with the fan-created hoax. "Glass Onion" finds John Lennon singing, "Well, here's another clue for you all/The walrus [a symbol of death] was Paul," while "Paul is dead man/Miss him, miss him, miss him" can be heard when playing "I'm So Tired" backwards, among other mumblings and backwards clues.
McCartney continues to be questioned about "Paul is dead," just as he was by Chris Farley in a famous sketch on "Saturday Night Live" in 1993. Watch above.