Nanny in NYC

A modern day Mary Poppins

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Everything Old is New Again: Lip Syncing

Some of you, I'm sure, remember my fear that teaching the G. children to sing along to Outkast might endanger my job. Well, luckily, both G. parents were kind of amused by their children's new found hip-hop sensibility (although, it's so sad that they're forced to cull this sensibility from me, a little white girl who grew up listening to musicals). It seems that my employers are not as square as I might have imagined. Mrs. G. likes there to be music playing practically at all times in the house, but she's apparently not at all concerned about what kind of music. This was such great information to discover!

Last week I was inspired by a piece on Slate.com by Sam Anderson called The Fab 4 Million: YouTube and the Neglected Art of Lip Syncing. For those of you who aren't familiar with YouTube, here is how Anderson describes it:
it's like the largest talent show in the history of the world crossed with your boring uncle's home video collection. You can see virtuoso guitarists playing TV theme songs, college guys pretending to be repulsed by ice cream, a robot dancer who might actually be a robot, and (for some reason) a girl eating an apple. There are kids' bands covering inappropriate songs, James Lipton reciting bad rap lyrics like they were Keats poems, and endless footage of George Bush's awkwardness at press conferences. If you like home video of iguanas, you have about 70 choices. The site has no organizing aesthetic or agenda. It's a kind of anti-TV-network: an incoherent, totally chaotic accretion of amateurism--pure webcam footage of the collective unconscious. It can be a little overwhelming. And its users add 35,000 videos every day.
His article went on to talk about how YouTube can be used to chart the rise of pop phenomena, such as, in this case, lip syncing.

The article points out several of the great lip syncing clips to be found on YouTube, such as
upside-down chin syncers, a guy channeling a Counting Crows song through his homemade Kermit the Frog puppet, and at least five different people re-creating, move for move, Tom Cruise's underwear sync from Risky Business.
But the penultimate lip syncers on the web today, according to Anderson, are two Chinese boys who call themselves . . . wait for it . . . Two Chinese Boys!
They've posted a handful of popular videos, each of which follows the same rubric: The boys sit side by side in a dorm room, channeling bubble-gum pop while someone works obliviously behind them at a computer. Their coordination is impeccable, especially during harmonic call-and-response, and they are unparalleled at creating the illusion of really feeling a song's high moments. They're a classic comic duo: The guy on the right is streetwise, fluent in hip-hop hand gestures and facial expressions; his partner is wistful and sensitive (he occasionally pretends to cry).
Here they are, for your viewing pleasure:



I've shown Sam & Jill these videos in hopes that they might be inspired, and it did the trick & then some. So far, with my iTunes collection and Mr. G.'s video camera, we've put down to tape Istanbul (Not Constantinople) originally a They Might be Giants song--now a G. Family EXCLUSIVE! (very EXCLUSIVE, as I won't ever be uploading it to the internet) and we're working on their version of Fall Out Boy's Grand Theft Autumn/Where is your Boy Tonight?.

Granted, their routine is not as smooth as Two Chinese Boys, but they're young, we've got plenty of time to hone their skills. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but nothing in the world, I repeat, nothing in the world is as funny as watching yourself "sing" your heart out on TV when everyone knows that's not your voice, but it looks like it is. Such a simple premise, really, and yet, so powerful.

This is gonna keep us busy for weeks!

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