Today’s insights are for my NEW music video, “I’m Never EVER Gonna Vote for Romney,” a spoofing of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together!”
INSIGHT INTO A SONG:
After “Vote Obama Style” took off, I knew it would be smart of me to release an album soon after. I had a ton of songs from my previous mixtape, “Justin Beeber Must Die!!” that I knew I could use for purposes of the new album (since, admittedly, the album hadn’t been downloaded by hardly anybody). However, I also knew I needed to record a couple more Obama parodies in order to increase the chances of the album actually selling.
I already had “Vote Obama Style,” and back in January I had recorded “Black President (Rack City Parody).” Aside from an original song I had recorded called “The Next Black President” (from the “The Next Black President” mixtape) I had NO other Obama songs recorded.
So, I went to work. I updated my very first parody, “Obama Milli Remix,” into a 2012 version that mentioned Mitt Romney. However, I still wanted to record at least ONE more parody of a song that was most current. So, I went to Billboard.com to look up the Hot 100 songs in the country, and – at the time (waaaaay back a month and a half ago) – the number 1 song in the land was Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
The song is catchy as heck and it’s one of the FEW songs of hers that I like. However, what was even MORE appealing about parodying the song was the logistics and timing with which I could use the song to my advantage. The way I saw it, the album the song was on – “Red” – was going to drop on October 22. This meant I had time to give some more breathing room to the life of “Vote Obama Style,” drop a video for “Obama Milli Remix,” and then release the video for MY version of Taylor’s song on or around the release date of her new album. Genius!
And so, I decided on a title – “I’m Never Ever Gonna Vote for Romney” – and then… nothing.
At least for a little while. I knew I wanted to mention reasons why I wasn’t going to vote for Mitt, but I didn’t want it to just be me saying mean stuff about him for no reason. I don’t hate the man personally, I just don’t want him as my President, and that needed to be said in a way where even people who want to vote for him would be like, “Well, at least he gave a decent reason for not choosing him!”
As the release date for my album neared, it was becoming a bit harder than I though to write something for the song. And then, as luck would have it, I saw a video on YouTube where someone had placed together numerous video clips of Mitt Romney being a “flip-flopper,” i.e. someone who changed his views and/or positions on issues based upon what was best for his campaign. Abortion, raising taxes, amnesty – all issues that, at one point (or more!) Romney had changed his mind about.
And that’s when I realized what my reasoning in the song should be: he’s always changing his mind to appease voters, so he can’t really be trusted. PERFECT!
This was the last song I recorded for the album and, admittedly, due to the time constraint I had I recorded it pretty quickly. Once I knew what angle to come from, writing the song took about 20 minutes, then I started recording it right away. The funnest part for me was having to harmonize with myself – this was the first country parody I’ve ever done, and since I rarely sing these days it’s fun when I have to use different octaves of my voice (especially on the “Meeee-EE!” part where one version of me had to sing in a high falsetto).
Once it was finished, I KNEW I had a hit. I was able to put it on the album, which I am definitely happy about…
Some Interesting Song Tidbits:
1. All of the things mentioned in the song are true – everything from Romney saying he wouldn’t raise the tax then turning around and saying he might, to him being for a woman’s right to choose then reversing the position have been captured on video and placed on YouTube. Look it up!
2. So, after I released the song, the debates began, and Romney kept saying stuff that was “meme-worthy.” In the second debate, he said that, when trying to look for women to fill positions in his cabinet, he had people bringing him “Binders full of women.” I KNEW that line needed to be used in the video version of my song, so I had to go back and re-record part of it. However, that line is NOT in the iTunes version of the song. Sorry :(
INSIGHT INTO A VIDEO SHOOT
Initially, I wanted to shoot a video for “Never” that was just as populated with people as “Vote Obama Style” had been. However, whereas “Obama” seem to just come together in terms of people’s schedules working out, it wasn’t the same way with this video.
I knew I needed to get the video out by October 22 for it to be effective since it was the same day of Taylor’s “Red” album coming out AND the date of the last Presidential election. Then, while watching the second Presidential debate last week, which was a town hall meeting styled debate where undecided voters asked both men questions, it hit me: I could take footage from this debate and green screen myself in as one of the questioners!
And so, once the debate was over, I downloaded it from YouTube and started piecing together the parts I could use where Romney was in the shot with empty space in front of him. Next, I decided on what “people” I wanted to sing in front of him. I decided to go with four: A.P.T. (myself); a blond girl who may or may not be Taylor Swift; Mario, and a pink bunny (the last two of which I just happen to have costumes for – don’t ask why, I just do).
To be the blond girl, I had to actually buy a wig! I went to the swap meet and bought a wig for $28… and let me tell you, putting that wig on was the hardest part of the shoot! I had NO idea why girls made such a big deal about their hair, but now I do – just trying to get it on took 20 minutes, and the hair kept falling in my face and wouldn’t stay in it’s place for longer than 5 seconds… I probably would have had more shots of me with it on in the video, but it just got more and more annoying!
Anyway… to make it consistent with the Romney footage I had chosen, I had to film each character facing to the right, then to the left, so that it would look cohesive when the angles of where Romney was standing changed. About 9 takes in all. By the time I was done filming everything, I only had about 3 hours to edit before the debate began. I imported all the footage, keyed out the green screen from each clip and placed them in front of the pre-chosen out Romney backdrops, exported them, imported them back in, then figured out which parts went where. I was still editing when the debate began, but I was on a mission to finish the video and post it up before the debate ended – which I was able to do about 12 minutes before it did!
In a way, making this video was bitter sweet. It’s the final Obama parody I plan on making – after the election, regardless of who wins, the importance of making any Obama-related songs will go down significantly – and I’m glad to have been part of doing things that have helped get the word out about Obama and voting for him. I’ve been making parodies about random topics for years, but to be able to make songs about a more focused topic has been very fun – AND beneficial to my career thus far!
Some Interesting Video Tidbits
1. Okay, costumes in the video: the first one – as myself – is the same outfit I wore in the “Vote Obama Style” video. The second one – me as a blond – was supposed to be me as Taylor Swift. However, I still have a thing about dressing completely in drag, so I wore my “Vote Obama Style” T-shirt and khaki pants instead (it looked like something a voter registrar would wear). The third one – me as Mario – I got that costume last Halloween, and have been making use of it ever since! And the fourth – me as a pink bunny – is a costume I got when I did a project for this website called “Very Smart Brothas.” Their site is excellent, btw, you should check it out!
2. When filming the video, I hadn’t recorded the “binders full of women” line yet, but knew I wanted to include it in the final video. So, I made sure to have each character say it, not knowing which one I would ultimately use. Then, while filming as Mario, I thought it would be funny to have him hold up a binder with a “Binder full of women, Vol. 1” cover on it. And so, that’s how he got chosen to be the character that says it!
3. While filming as the blond girl, my roommate stopped by from work to pick something up. The look on her face seeing me in a blond wig: priceless.
4. Initially, I was going to have “Taylor” playing the guitar. However, when I looked at the video again, I realized that she does not, at any time, play any kind of instrument in the video. However, there WAS a party scene where a bunch of guys dressed like different animals were playing instruments. I didn’t have a guitar, but I DID have a tennis racket that could be played by a pink bunny, so that’s what I went with!
5. I don’t normally do “full shots” of myself when using green screen. I record most green screen videos in my bedroom, where the space isn’t wide enough to get a full body shot. However, when I DO need full body shots (like in this video for A.P.T. and the pink bunny) I will move the green screen out to the living room and place my camera in the hallway so I can get a full shot. The hardest part? Getting the wrinkles out of the part of the green screen that’s on the floor – if you don’t, you end up getting black shadows that show up later (check my feet as A.P.T. in the later part of the video – those black parts aren’t feet shadows, they’re the parts where wrinkles caused the green to shadow so I couldn’t remove it!).
And that’s it! Hope you enjoy the video, and be sure to get the song or my album from the links above!