Hi! Remember me! Well guess what?!? I’m making videos again!!

I actually have another video I made before this video, BUT… since this one is of the utmost urgent importance, I’m putting it up first. So, without further ado….

Today’s song insights are for the music video, “Vote Obama Style,” a parody of Psy’s “Gangnam Style!”

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INSIGHTS INTO A SONG:

I’m going to assume everyone who’s on this page has heard Psy’s “Gangnam Style” song. In short, Psy’s a Korean rap/pop artist who’s “Gangnam Style” song/video have received over 100 million views (and counting) on YouTube, and has been seen on various TV shows. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

I forget how I ended up watching the video – probably after seeing it posted on Yahoo, Google and friends’ Facebook pages – but when I saw the video and heard the song, AND saw how many views it was getting, I knew I HAD to make a parody of it.

I went through the usual process, trying to find things that rhymed with “Gangnam.” “Condom” was the easiest thing to think of, and I almost went this route (“What’s Your Condom Style?”) but didn’t know how much mileage I’d get out of it.  I thought of a few funny things here and there, but nothing that was really popping off in my brain enough for me to want to record anything…

Then, I took a mini-trip to Palm Springs for the day. While relaxin’ in my room, I got a chance to look at the video again, and as I started going over parody ideas, it suddenly hit me:

“Vote Obama Style!”

There it was – the elusive hit I’d been looking to parody an Obama song with. I thought I had done it with my “Rack City” parody, “Black President” back in January, but by then the song was actually starting to die down in popularity. (Had no idea it had been out since summer 2011. So much for being on the radar anymore!)

But THIS – this song had the same elements that made “A Milli” such a sure-fire winner. Infectious beat? Check. Crazy artist saying cool stuff that didn’t make sense (unless you know Korean)? Check. Worldwide popularity? Check. The only REAL question was, could I write a song to it?

The only thing really standing in the way was the language barrier – aside from “Heeeeey, sexy lady,” I have NO idea what the rest of the song is saying. Then I realized, when I make parodies, I don’t really base the words I use off what the other artist wrote, so much as I try to follow similar song patterns and syllables.  As long as I could make my ending rhymes sound phonetically similar to what Psy was saying in Korean I’d be good.

So, I got to work. I went into work on Saturday night and just started coming up with ideas. As per usual, I thought of the second verse first, then went back to the first verse for a bit, got stuck, worked on the 3rd verse instead, then went home and worked out the first verse. By Sunday, I had a full song written and, later that same day, recorded (after finding a remade instrumental online)!

For this Obama song, I focused on two things. In the first verse, I talk about how Obama is at a turning point after 3 years, then mention how I’m going to vote for him on election day. In the second verse, I talk about Mitt Romney looking like a super villain, then listing a few of the various accomplishments made by Obama in his first term. On the refrains, I talk about Obama being the better candidate and how people should vote for him instead of Mitt Romney.

Pretty simple stuff, all said in ways that are funny, insightful, and thought-provoking. What can I say, it’s what I do best!

Some Interesting Song Tidbits

1. The way I say “Vote Obama Style” sounds similar to the way Psy says “Oppom Gangnam Style.” I was doing the best impression of him that I could for that part. It’s also the only part of the song that’s not layered with other vocals.

2. It took me about 10 minutes to figure out what I was going to replace “Heeeey, sexy lady” with. I finally settled on “Heeeeey, Romney’s shady,” mostly ’cause it was the best thing I could think of. If I could put something else there that worked better I would, but it’s a fine replacement for now…

3. I added in the line about Romney looking like a super villain because I think I saw a picture comparison of him and Magneto or some other villain on some fake news show (Stewart or Colbert, I think).

4. Believe it or not, the hardest part of the song for me to think of was the 4th line in the first verse. I was trying to rhyme words like “election,” “introspection,” and needed a forth one… but couldn’t think of anything. I finally decided on the word “objection.” Then, I had to think of what rhymed with… whatever those words were Psy used in the first half of the 4th verse that sound like “Good or bad.” Finally, I said “screw it” and decided to mention Michelle Obama’s fineness once again. I don’t think I’ve gotten through a whole “Obama” song without mentioning it, so why start now? 😛

INSIGHTS INTO A VIDEO SHOOT

Once I finished recording the song, I KNEW I wanted to make a video with an impact. However, at the time all I knew was (a) I had a flip camera, a green screen and a camera tripod to use.

My original plan was to take my tripod with me around town to various spots, set up my camera, and dance like a madman while mouthing the words to the song. It would have been an “okay” video, but nothing like what I ended up shooting…

You see, as it turns out, in the 3+ years I’ve been in Los Angeles, I’ve made friends with people who will actually show up for video shoots. And who have state-of-the-art cameras. And who don’t mind making a fool of themselves for the purpose of a video.  These are the people I call “friends,” and they help make what could be an “okay” video something that’s worthy of showing to other people.

And so, I looked through my phone list and sent out a mass text… and, the people who I truly wanted to be in the video were able to show up, including my friend Tamika (you know her from… well, MOST of the videos I shot last year). She moved to Texas late last year but was in town for a friend’s wedding and agreed to show up for an hour and shoot stuff.

As for my camera, I didn’t even have to use it for the majority of the shoot. My friend Joe Hollywood (who makes a cameo in dang near ALL of my videos) had gotten a new camera the same day I wanted to shoot, so the video ended up being a tester for the camera (and man, oh man, does it work GREAT). Aside from a few pick up shots here and there that I got via the Flip, the rest of the shoot ended up being done on a Canon T2 camera.

Anyway… the shoot itself ended up being 3 days at various times. Day 1 shoot day was at the La Brea/Expo train station, where we did a LOT of outside shots mocking Psy’s original video: The elevator shot, the shot with him and two girls walking forward, and the dance sequence at the end of the video were all done at this one location.  As we were filming it, Joe’s battery died, so we had to wait until the next day to shoot.

Day 2 shoot was LONG. Joe and I met up at the Culver City train station at 10 and shot a few more train shots, both outside AND inside the train. Then we went to Fox Hills mall, where we shot inside Target and at the food court. Next, we went back to my apartment to dump the footage and get some shots of me in the pool and next to the pool. Then, it was off to the park to shoot the opening scene (as well as a cool dance scene with me on top of a picnic table). Next, we went to the Rave cinema (a.k.a. “The Bridge”) to use their parking garage as an imitation to Psy’s garage usage in his video.  Before we left there, we also filmed a short bit of me doing the famous “arms crossed while galloping” dance from the video.  Finally, we went back to Joe’s apartment, dumped some more footage, and filmed one more scene before I headed home.

I was able to take Joe’s camera home and film some additional stuff. My roommate wanted to be in the video, so we filmed a scene where she was opening the door and I was bursting in; plus a cool scene where we danced side by side doing some more goofy dancing.

At this point, I figured my filming was done… but then I mentioned to my roommate that I had wanted her son (a.k.a. my Godson) Ajani to dance in the video.  That’s when she mentioned an Obama wall painting downtown that ended up being a PERFECT backdrop for the opening of the video, as well as getting a few clips of Ajani dancing.

Good grief, that was just the short version of what happened, and I haven’t even gotten to the editing part yet!

Well, in short: it was a LOT of color correction, adding things in so the video would look as bright, joyful and colorful as Psy’s video.  I added in subtitles typed in “Hobo Std” font (I wish I was making that name up) so people could understand all the words being said.

I also made sure to add in things like my YouTube station name, as well as where viewers could buy the single (on iTunes) as well as past Obama songs and the “Vote Obama Style” T-shirt.  I have found that my videos sometimes get “borrowed” and uploaded to other people’s channels; I figure, if it’s going to happen, might as well use them to send people back to my page and to buy my merchandise, right?

All in all, a very, VERY ambitious video, and one I’m proud to have made!

Some Interesting Video Tidbits:

1. This is the first video I’ve made in a LOOOOONG time that didn’t use green screen or excessive pictures! I really wanted to give the feel of it being a “real” video, and those elements can take away from that effect.

2. On Day 1 after Joe’s camera died, Tamika wanted to get Roscoe’s chicken and waffles for lunch – the same place Obama got food from when he visited Los Angeles last year. I had my Flip Camera on me at the time, and figured I should get some shots in there for the vid. Thus: The shot of me with a waffle house menu, and a shot of me pointing at the picture of Obama with the Roscoe’s staff hanging above their register!

3. If you notice, in about 90% of the video, the words I’m saying don’t match what’s being said. This stemmed from the elevator scene, when I realized I didn’t know all the words to my own song (since I had only just recorded it the day before)! So, I decided to act like I was speaking a gibberish language and being subtitled so people could understand me.  I wish I had known the song better, but the video still came out lookin’ dang good in spite of the situation!

4. While filming the dance sequence, the cars on La Brea kept honking at us. The majority of them were cheering us on… and then, one random guy yelled out “stop that!” LoL!

5. I wanted to get a video shot in the train since Psy had one in his video. We met up at the Culver City station because it was the end of the new Blue line, which meant the train would be stalled there for 10 minutes and we’d have time for me to film inside the train with no one there. Only problem: when we got there, people WERE in the train. I didn’t want to interrupt them or make things awkward, so I nixed the idea. Turns out, though, fate was in our favor: as I was shooting a solo scene at the station, another train pulled up. This meant I now had TWO trains in the solo shot; more importantly, though, when the train arrived, EVERYONE got off, meaning I now had time to shoot a scene on the inside of the train! We only shot for 2 minutes, but I made SURE to make them shots that could be used in the video!

6. My friend Joe was leery about shooting in Target – having to sneak around to get various shots, possibly having people walk up, etc. – but had no problem wanting to shoot in the mall food court. In fact, that suggestion is what got me the shot next to the bamboo trees in the food court!

7. The pool used in the pool scene is in the courtyard of my apartment complex.

8. For the park scene, I didn’t know of any little kids that would be available to dance in front of me like in Psy’s video. We later found out that one of Joe’s nephews was actually home during the day of our shoot and could’ve done it.  Um… shouldn’t he be in school?!?

9. In the parking garage scene, I kicked Joe in the allzbeys by accident while dancing. Terrible for him, GREAT for film footage!

10. While filming the scene where I’m dancing while crossing the street, Joe’s camera battery ran out of juice. Luckily, it shot just enough of what I needed for me to use – where it cuts off in the video is where it cut off while filming!

11. The line about Mitt Romney looking like a super villain prompted me to want to find a pic of him being compared to one online. Instead, I found a pic someone made of him looking like he was wearing Bane’s mask. Worked for me!

12. We went to 3 different toilets when trying to figure out where I could shoot the infamous bathroom scene.  We first stopped at a library next to the park, but it had a homeless guy in there shaving and washing up. The next place we went to was a hotel that had a GREAT bathroom… but bad lighting. Finally, we stopped at a bowling alley. I was going to use their handicap bathroom stall, but when we opened the door we saw crap sitting on the seat. So, I ended up having to use the small stall instead.

13. The kid in the video is my Godson, Ajani. That kid usually has so much energy, yet on the day we needed him to dance he didn’t really want to do it. Thus, the reason he’s only in snippets of the video. Ironically, once we got him home, he was all ready to be bouncing and dance. Darn that kid’s bad timing!!

14. Estimated editing time for this video… I can’t even tell. I started on Tuesday night, which went into Wednesday morning before I fell asleep at 2 A.M., then woke up at 7:45 A.M. to continue on… then I shot some more stuff for the video, so… eh, let’s just say it took a long-ass time. I thought not using green screen would make this stuff easier!

I’m very, VERY proud of how this video turned out! Even if it doesn’t get as big as my “Obama Milli Remix,” I feel the effort put into this project makes it a winner. But really, now, PLEASE share this video with your friends!

-A. P. T.

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