The song is a parody of many rap video clichés, especially the music video for the Jay-Z song "Big Pimpin'."
The music video reached number one on YouTube in February 2009 and was number one on the US iTunes music video chart.
The song was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 52nd Grammy Awards.
It was featured as a Saturday Night Live Digital Short.
The song features an aggressive delivery of the lyrics which are peppered with strong profanity throughout while making simple proclamations, ranging from the mundane ("The boat engine make noise") to the absurd ("I'm gonna fly this boat to the moon somehow").
Samberg sings that he's "king of the world, on a boat like Leo" referring to Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie Titanic, and mentions Kevin Garnett's 2008 NBA championship finals victory quote "anything is possible".
The Lonely Island has performed the song live on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon with Black Thought filling in for T-Pain.
Giving the song four stars, Rolling Stone said it is "one of the strongest Saturday Night Live hip-hop hits since Eddie Murphy was funny."
Stereogum called the tune "a 2:42 masterclass in stunting."
In December 2009, "I'm on a Boat" received a nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 52nd Grammy Awards, a category held for a rhymed/sung collaborative performance by artists who do not normally perform together, losing to Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Rihanna's song "Run This Town".