Sunday, June 05, 2011

The Greatest Music Video Ever Made

If you haven't seen the video, you probably should. Roger Ebert dubbed it "The Greatest Music Video Ever Made." That's a thumb's way up from the celebrated movie critic.

There were certainly artistic reasons for using Don McLean's classic, "American Pie." But some readers might associate that title with an endless series of teen movies bearing the same name. That's OK. The writers and director responsible for American Pie hail from East Grand Rapids (Gerald Ford's old stomping grounds). In the films, their high school goes by the name "East Great Falls" to protect the innocent. The movie was shot in southern California, of course. The high school shots were filmed at Robert A. Millikan High School. Physics Connection!

If you think the GR Lip Dub video is a frivolous follow-shot, that's because you didn't watch it through to 6:24.

According to my test-marketing in the Sacramento high school demographic, the "I met a girl who sang the blues" boy is surprisingly cute. Until I showed this video, I was the sole representative of what people from Grand Rapids look like at my school. I assured my students that there are, in fact, cute people in Grand Rapids. It was news to them!

It's been fun here at the end of the year to ask students some details on how, exactly, the video was recorded. It's clearly a one-shot take that winds through the streets and walkways and bridges of downtown Grand Rapids. But how does the camera operator get around? More than two modes of transportation were involved.

One small puzzle I haven't researched to fruition is the version of "American Pie" used for the lip dub. It's not the famous studio version from the album of the same name. Nor is it the live version from McLean's Greatest Hits Live! album, recorded in 1980. So the lip dub version is unavailable on iTunes.

And as I tried to convince my friends at PhET, no on-going concern that hopes to promote its cause does so without a T-shirt. Or several. GrandRapidsLipDub is no different.

UPDATE: I found the "American Pie" source performance on YouTube.


Dean Baird said...

Wow. Watch that original YouTube. You know it's from a far bygone era. Is it the clothes that give it way? No so much. It's the ability of an auditorium full of concert-goers who can be quiet during the quiet moments.

Anyone there who thought what American Pie needed was a wild yelp/"Oww!" to punctuate the downtempo sections kept that thought to themselves.

Could never happen in the US in 2011.

Anonymous said...

At about 2:24 in the video, there is a reflection in the window so you can see the camera-transporting vehicle

Dean Baird said...

^ Good eyes, Anonymous, and well done! Further evidence of the mini-truck (six-wheeled motorized vehicle) which I'm sure has a proper trade name... include the ramps seen where the camera needs to cross a curb.

So that's one mode of transport. Two and three, anyone?