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8 June 2011

A brief history of lipdub

Just guessing at the general demographic of my blog readership (arty, 30ish, stridently skeptical about pop culture), I’m guessing some of you have never seen one of these…

…which would be shocking, really, considering that both the lipdub videos I’m sharing in the main body of this post have in the neighborhood of one million views.

Some more lipdub history after the jump.

The first lipdub, made in 2006, features a one-man lipdub soliloquy featuring one of Vimeo’s foundersJake Lodwick and a song by Apes & Androids a should-have-been famous band from New York that barely got off the ground and soon dissolved. A&A’s shows were kind of amazing, as focused on spectacle as they were on music, but more on that later and, for now, this spectacle:

Inspired idea, but not exactly destined for pop culture ubiquity.

But the inventor continued to innovate, and the concept quickly evolved into a group phenomenon via an afterwork video directed by Lodwick in 2007, this time soundtracked to one-hit wonders Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta.”
Note the addition of communally known pop hit. Still, not exactly meant for a mass audience. The text below the video includes a link to job postings. Better than a classified ad for locating technology- and media-minded candidates, I guess.

Finally, with almost nine million views to date, came this late 2009 take on the Black-Eyed Peas hard-to-forget, easy-to-dislike, but clearly memorable hit “I Gotta Feeling.” Populated by what seems like a good percentage of the l’Université du Québec à Montréal campus, it set off a phenomenon on other college campuses, a trend which climaxed with the Emerson video at the top of this post, and the demonstration of civic pride shown in the Cedar Rapids video right below it.

Which is to say not every trendy gesture starts with the young or ends up feeling as sad and pointless as a tramp stamp tattoo on a suburban mother incipient wedgie at the mini-mall.

A final word about spectacle via Apes & Androids.

Which is to say, some spectacles never get off the ground. As hard as one tries.


Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis

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