Today’s insights are for the song/video “Teach Me How to Snuggie,” a parody of Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie!”
AVAILABLE ON ITUNES!! Click HERE to preview/download!
INSIGHT INTO A SONG:
Man, oh man, oh man… where do I even begin?
Okay… so, as you all may be aware, the “Teach Me How to Dougie” song came out at the tail end of 2009, picked up steam mid-way through 2010, and was being quoted in the media as the “new dance craze” by white media people who picked up on it sometime around the end of last year.
As for me, I wanted to make a parody song for this sometime around the middle of last year. After hearing the song a few times (thanks, in part, to my friend Tamika, who was – and probably still is – an avid fan of the song), I, naturally, started thinking of ways to make fun of it, and “Teach Me How to Snuggie” seemed like the easiest – and funniest – idea.
As I always do when I think of these types of songs, I looked on YouTube to see if anybody else had thought of the song – and, at the time I researched it, no one had. “Great,” I thought to myself, “I’ll be able to have a HUGE hit on my hands if I record and release it as soon as possible!”
That was in May/June. By July, I had some personal issues come up that caused me to take my focus away from recording music and videos for a while, and wasn’t able to make the song (both for time reasons and because I was having writer’s block, having just used up all my writing energies for the “The Obama Milli Remix Guy Strikes Back!” album).
Fast-forward to November 2010: my “personal issues” having been far from solved, I had started writing again (and released the pretty darn-good selling “Whip My Hair” parody, “Rub That Nair”) and was looking to write songs for my “Prince of Parody Vol. 1” album (now at iTunes – Click HERE to preview).
At this point, I didn’t know if it was too late to write a parody for “Teach Me How to Dougie.” The song had been out for a year, and numerous parodies had been made for the song, including a few YouTube videos for songs titled – you guessed it – “Teach Me How to Snuggie.”
Still, I believe a song can be done – and funny, and profitable – if it is recorded properly and sounds good. The other versions of “Teach Me How to Snuggie” were okay, but the videos were of not-so-great quality, and the recordings themselves sounded like an amateur mixed them together. I knew if I did my version it would, at the very least, sound AND look infinitely better!
As for the song itself, only 2/3 of the song is parodied off the original song’s lyrics, flow and cadence. In other words: for the first two verses I followed the patterning of how the original artists sounded; however, for the third verse I went completely off the rails (save for two lines) and did my own lil’ “remixing” of sound, if you will.
Why did I do that? Honestly, there was a line I came up with that I wanted to put in the song – I won’t quote it here ’cause it’s too funny, but it’s the second-to-last line of the third verse – and in order to do so I needed to change how the rest of the verse sounded rhyme-wise.
I also decided to add other “elements” to the track. My friend Michele, a.k.a. Miss Theory, was kind enough to lend her vocals to the opening of the song, and radio personality Rhea Bea lent her voice to the chorus of the song. (I was gonna do the chorus myself, but since the original song had a girl on it, I figured “hey, why not get an actual girl – you DO know some, ya know!”)
Lastly, I decided to make this a collaboration track with my puppet alter-ego, Non Juan! I was upset that I wasn’t able to use him for the “Rub That Nair” parody at the time I recorded it, but it was all-systems go for the “Snuggie” track!
All in all, this track is VERY funny, and already proving to be a BIG hit on iTunes – definitely good signs for the longevity of the track!
Some Interesting Song Tidbits:
1. Both Miss Theory and Rhea Bea went to my college, Hampton University.
2. I actually requested Miss Theory for the chorus of the track; however, as the deadline approached for the song I hadn’t received her vocals. So, I contacted Rhea Bea, who lives 2 blocks from me at this point, and she came right away to record (Miss Theory lives in D.C.). After I recorded Rhea’s vocals, I checked my email box, only to find that Miss Theory had sent me the vocals. I didn’t want to cut her out of the track, though, and the “extra” recording she recorded for me was PERFECT to be used in the beginning of the track!
3. Writing this song was no walk in the park. Figuring out what words from the original to replace with other words was pretty hard, and trying to make fun of the subject matter – Snuggies – was a chore in and of itself. In fact, the original plan was to only write remakes of the first and third verse, and ignore the second verse altogether (like I did with “Jersey Shore Douches”). Once I decided I wanted Non Juan to be on the song, though, I decided to keep it in.
4. Early on, when I first thought of doing the song, I actually wrote out the entire third verse, and it was hilarious. A couple of weeks later, I misplaced what I had written (it was on the back of an envelope), and was so discouraged at the idea of having to come up with something just as funny that it delayed my writing of the song for a few weeks. As I sat down to re-write what I had lost, about 40% of the original idea was still in my head, including the ending lines of the verse. The final verse recorded for the track is just as good as the original one I wrote, but I still wish I could find it. Darn my cluttered room!
INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT
This video turned out WAAAAY different than I had originally planned.
The original idea for the video was to film myself dancing in a Snuggie at a bunch of different locations around Los Angeles, while also filming stills to use as Non Juan’s backgrounds via green screen.
But then, a funny thing happened: while filming the “Big Moochin’ Fella” video back in November, my friend Kei’ana (who helped film parts of it) said she’d be willing to shoot a part for the potential “Snuggie” video. Once we got back to my apartment, I set up my Flip HD camera and filmed her dancing in the Snuggie in front of my green screen.
At that point, I figured she’d be the only girl in it. But then, I started asking other girls if they wanted to be in the video, and just about every girl I asked was saying “YES.” Pretty impressive to me, especially considering these girls hadn’t even heard the song (though the title of it DID make all of them laugh).
So, I figured I could film all of the girls in front of the green screen dancing in a Snuggie, as well as interacting with Non Juan, and make the video pop much more than if it was just me by myself. Plus, who doesn’t want to look at a video with hot girls dancing in a Snuggie?
And yes, I do me “a” Snuggie. Months before I even finished the song, I asked my neighbor/friend Danielle if she knew anybody who had a Snuggie I could use for a potential video. Turns out she had one – but it was pink!
At first I was hesitant to use it… but then I figured: “Funny song + Guy Dancing in Pink Snuggie = Viral Video Hit.” So I decided to use it. And, since I didn’t want to spend any extra money buying a Snuggie, I decided to have EVERYONE in the video where it as well!
The ultimate catch for me in this video was getting some of my family and friends from various parts of the country to be in it. A week after I filmed Kei’ana’s part, I headed to Virginia for Thanksgiving with my family, where I managed to convince my brother, David (a.k.a. D.J.T. – yes, he’s a D.J., and yes, using his actual initials as his D.J. name was my idea) to film a small part for it.
I was also able to get my good friend Michele (a.k.a. Miss Theory) to film a small part as the girl who gives me the pink Snuggie in the first place. She is the girl whose vocals you hear at the very beginning of the song, so I knew it was important to put her in the video.
Lastly, I wanted my mom to be in the video, but at the time I filmed it she didn’t have her hair/make-up done the way she wanted it. It wasn’t until last week when my Aunt Debi came to down to take me to a seminar that I was able to find someone who’d be a suitable on-camera replacement for my Mom – after all, they ARE sisters!
Even after filming all this stuff, I still wanted some shots of me dancing around town in a Snuggie. So, while walking home from work one day, I took out my Flip HD camera and pink Snuggie (I’d taken them to work that day just in case I felt like filming something) and stopped at a few places en route to film myself dancing. In public. Yeah, lots of weird looks on people’s faces at a guy dancing in a pink Snuggie, but what are you gonna do??
As for the look of the actual video, I decided to keep the backgrounds simple: solid colors, a couple of flashy backgrounds… I didn’t want to use any backgrounds that would be distracting from the action going on in the foreground, and I liked the idea of giving the video a rainbow-style pallet feel. I also threw in a few Snuggie logos for good measuer – hopefully the Snuggie people see this video and decide to do something with it!
As you can see, this video turned out to be more ambitious than I imagined. Even in its look of simplicity, the final video has the feel of a collaborative effort. I’m so glad this video is finally complete, and I hope you all enjoy it!!
Some Interesting Video Shoot Tidbits:
1. All of the green screen shots were filmed in my bedroom. (I have to say this all the time, ’cause people don’t believe me until they see it.) However, the distance between where the green screen is and the length of my room isn’t that big. For this reason, I was only able to film people from the waist up – no full body shots. 😦
2. The places where I filmed myself dancing “around town” in a pink Snuggie were all on the same street, parallel to the street I actually live on.
3. The car I’m driving in the video belongs to Sharonda Nicole, who is also in the video (she’s the one in front of the flashy red background).
4. I filmed most of the girls by themselves, but only because I wasn’t always able to get them to come to my place and film on the same days. However, both Rhea Bea and Jovana managed to come and film on the same day, so I was able to have them act with each other.
5. The hardest part for me to figure out when making the video was how to get Non Juan into a Snuggie. They don’t make Snuggies in his size, and I didn’t feel like trying to make one. On the day I shot with Rhea Bea and Jovana, though, I had my friend/collaborator Joe Hollywood (he’s the TV pitchman in the video, too) helm the camera, and he suggested I place Non Juan in the Snuggie with the dancing girls. BRILLIANT!!
6. Once again, I was able to get my good friend Tamika in the video (she’s the one dancing in front of the blue background). At this point, she has been a guest in more of my videos than anyone else I know. There is also a small cameo appearance by her dog, Romeo, towards the end of the video.
7. I really, REALLY wanted to do a scene with a crowd of people in it dancing to the song, but I could never get all the people I’d need to do it together at one time. On the day I filmed Camilla’s part (the girl dancing in front of the green background), it just so happened that Sharonda Nicole and my friend Charles were over to spend the night, and my friend Danielle came down to visit us. With 5 of us in my apartment, I realized I could finally film a small crowd scene. My idea? SOUL TRAIN SNUGGIE DANCE LINE!! (You have to see the video to watch how it came out.)
8. The place where I’m eating dinner is at IHOP. After filming parts of the “Big Moochin’ Fella” video, I went there with Kei’ana to eat. This lady came in and sat next to our booth, and she looked like she was wearing some kind of robe. I mentioned to Kei’ana, “It looks like she’s wearing a Snuggie!” To which she replied: “It would be SO funny if you actually wore a Snuggie in here.” So, I went back to her car… and the rest is history!
9.The line where I say, “Wait, couldn’t u just go and get a robe?” was filmed in Ross’. I set my camera up on a display table, found a robe, and mouthed that part of the song without music. I only did two takes; after the second take, this lady came by and grabbed my camera to look at it, and I had to stop her.
10. For the buggy shot, I had to film it in one take. I woke up one morning, grabbed my camera and my friend’s tripod, walked outside my apartment and looked for the first Beetle Volkswagon I could find. When I found it, I set up the camera, ran across the street with my Snuggie, mimicked myself washing the car, then ran back to my camera and got the heck outta there!
11. The “Snuggie Suitcase” was something I had an idea for, but had NO idea how to make. In the end, I was able to use my small carrying bag for help – I just wrapped the Snuggie around it and modified it to where I’d be able to carry the Snuggie as a suitcase with no problem!
12. Lastly, the “Teach Me How to Snuggie” shirt! I wanted to wear one for the video, but nobody actually makes them. Tamika came over one day to visit; as she was leaving, she asked me if I wanted to run errands with her. We went to Michael’s so she could buy some items to make shirts out of, and they had materials there I could use to create the shirt I wanted for the video. So yes, I put that shirt together myself, and they will soon be on sale!
That’s all for now – the single is now available on iTunes, so be sure to get it!