I love the viral video. More than that I love viral videos that parody and recreate pop songs. Ah, the lip-syncing, the bad dancing, the crappy props. Who can forget the soldiers in Afghanistan dancing to Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” in 2010? I must have watched that for two days straight.
If you’re going to talk about potential songs of summer, you have to talk about the viral videos that accompany them. It isn’t as if people (i.e. myself) haven’t been recreating songs with all the flourishes and dance moves since Michael Jackson’s Bad. Thank God none of that was ever broadcast to the world. Today, every video on YouTube has the potential to go viral.
If you ask your students they are the first to admit that they saw Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez’s homemade video of “Call Me Maybe” before they saw the Jepsen’s real video. Ask them about the Harvard baseball team’s “take” and you’re bet to get most of them to laugh. Yes, the pop music, the song of summer is important but so too are the video “remakes.”
Now, imagine a whole class where you talk about the power of summer pop music coupled with viral videos. Your students might think your crazy. You might think you’re crazy. Don’t worry, we’re here to help with all of that.
I’ve chosen two songs currently in contention for Summer Song. Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” Don’t believe me? Check out The Week’s list. I’d trust them more than me, too.
First have students listen to both songs without any video. You can do that simply by playing their videos on Youtube with the video turned off. As they listen ask that they write down basic observations about music, lyrics, rhythm, etc. Their goal is to quantify what makes the song catchy enough to be a summer song contender.
Next, have them watch the parodies. Their job isn’t to compare them to the original. They aren’t the same. Their job instead is to look at them individually to decide individual purpose and then big picture effect. Have them formulate essential questions for each of the videos. Choose the best ones and then ask that you discuss or write as a class.
Gotye Parodies-”Somebody that I used to Know”
The Kobe that We Used to Know
For yourself checkout College Humor’s Some Study that I Used to Know. It’s hilarious but borderline in terms of appropriateness for school.
Carly Rae Jepsen Parodies-”Call Me Maybe”
Harvard Baseball 2012-”Call Me Maybe”
SMU Women’s Rowing 2012-”Call Me Maybe”
The Tonight Show’s “with” Mitt Romney & President Obama
Also checkout NPR’s blog The Record for an entire post about covers, parodies and more. The title is “Dudes Act Like a Lady: ‘Call Me Maybe’ Takes Over YouTube.“
Want to do a language study instead? Ask students to look at Vulture’s wordle of the most used words in the “it” songs of summer. Ask them to first construct essential questions about the word usage itself and then use one of their level three questions to construct a paragraph argument.