The Rapist and the Rainbow
A funny thing happened at the most recent wedding reception I worked. The mother of the bride says to me (as the DJ), “Have you heard that song about that guy on YouTube who stopped the rapist?”
A song about the what…? I don’t think so.
“You know, about the intruder who snuck in and was trying to rape the guy’s sister in her bed?”
Hmm. No, I don’t think I’ve heard that one before.
Then there was the 13-year-old’s birthday party, where some kid wanted to hear the “Double Rainbow” song.
Is that a Skittles commercial? No? I don’t think I’ve heard that one either. Sorry, just not as hip as I used to be. (So much music, so little time.)
Lyrics by YouTube, Music by Gregory Bros.
“Bed Intruder” and “Double Rainbow” have a few things in common.
They’re both hit iTunes songs that were inspired by viral YouTube videos. Both have resulted in new commercial opportunities for their accidental stars.
The music for both songs was written by The Gregory Brothers, a Brooklyn-based music group of three brothers and one spouse who also produce AutoTune The News, a satirical musical look at current events and politics.
The Gregorys find musical inspiration in off-the-wall videos, then take the audio track and alter it using a software program called AutoTune to bend the pitch into a melody. The lyrics are just the spoken words of the regular people in the videos, as filtered through AutoTune.
Antoine Dodson, Homeboy Hero
The tale of the Bed Intruder starts when Antoine Dodson, of Huntsville, Alabama, was busy on Facebook at 2:00 a.m. Suddenly he was rudely interrupted by the screams of his sister as she fought off a pervert who had snuck into her bed and was attempting to pull her clothes off and choke her.
If you haven’t heard it already, listen to Antoine tell the rest of the story himself. First we’ll hear Antoine’s news interview, then see what The Gregory Brothers did with the footage.
The original video was uploaded to YouTube on July 29, 2010. Two days later the Gregory Brothers posted their AutoTune remix. As of this posting, the “Bed Intruder” song currently has over 36 million views on YouTube!
We Gon’ Find You on Halloween
The traumatic event turned out to be “a blessing in disguise,” as Antoine puts it. After going viral on YouTube, the song hit #89 on the Billboard Hot 100 music charts. After seven weeks it had 150,000 downloads on iTunes. So far it has inspired over 5,000 cover versions of “Bed Intruder” on YouTube.
Antoine now finds himself with a hot-selling song, a line of t-shirts and merchandise, and even a Bed Intruder Halloween costume (voted the Most Wanted Costume of 2010). There’s even a “Bed Intruder Remix App” for sale on iTunes. With his half of the profits from iTunes sales, Antoine plans to buy his family a new home.
Here’s Antoine interviewed on CBS, the network that aired his original interview, about what it was like to become a virtual overnight sensation.
Antoine now has a gig as the spokes-homeboy for a Sex Offender App commercial!
Full-On Double Rainbow, So Intense!
Have you seen this one? The sound is almost NSFW, so exercise caution around co-workers, who might think you’re watching something even more graphic than rainbows.
Yosemite Bear, What Does It Mean?
Woo! After The Gregory Brothers finished manipulating the intense, blissed-out video narration by Yosemite Bear into an AutoTune song, it became a hit on iTunes, a double rainbow t-shirt line, and now the concept for a Microsoft commercial, featuring Bear himself.
Here’s the “Double Rainbow” song inspired by Yosemite Bear:
Here’s Bear doing his star turn in the Windows “Double Rainbow–Live Photo Gallery” commercial.
Hitting the Double Rainbow Jackpot
Bed Intruder costumes are sold out for Halloween. Maybe you can get a Double Rainbow t-shirt, but you probably can’t braid your beard like Bear. And who wants to wait to be discovered on YouTube?
If you’re ready to make your own luck, here’s the next best thing to being given the star treatment by the Gregory Brothers: Devo is offering a Flip camera in a contest for the best video of someone wearing a Devo outfit during this Halloween season. So get out there and whip it good for the camera.
To wrap up our tale of two ditties, here’s someone who’s combined both AutoTune songs into a new acoustic mashup version, “Rapin’ Erebody’s Rainbows”.
I may not have been musically up to date over the summer. But I’m ready for Halloween (I’m going to shoot for the Devo Flip contest). What are you going to be?