Obama, Romney "team up" for Miley Cyrus "duet"
(CBS News) What could be better than a video of President Obama "singing" Carly Rae Jepsen's inexhaustible "Call Me Maybe"? Answer: A video of President Obama and Mitt Romney "teaming up" for a "duet" of Miley Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A."
While the 2012 presidential election mushrooms into what 19-year-old college sophomore Fadi Saleh calls "basically, just a big fight," his dream of creating an alternate world where opposing politicians just get along and sing pop songs together has been realized. As part of a "get out and vote" effort on Voter Registration Day, MTV on Tuesday began airing the seventh music video produced by "baracksdubs" - Saleh's YouTube alias specializing in intricate mash-ups of political speeches to the hit songs of the day.
It's his first project that includes the GOP nominee and, having already attracted half a million views, it's on its way to joining the ranks of Obama "solos" to LMFAO's "I'm Sexy and I Know It," boasting 17 million views, and "Call Me Maybe," the single most watched YouTube video mentioning either Mr. Obama or Romney, at 27 million views.
Like most great ideas, the concept for "baracksdubs" came to Saleh in the shower. "It was in January, right at the end of winter break," the University of Tennessee, Knoxville student said. "I got in the shower and had a song stuck in my head. It happened to be 'Drink to That,' by Rihanna - don't judge me. And for whatever reason, Obama came to mind, and I got this random image of the president singing 'Drink to That.'"
The product of that brainstorm drew several hundred thousand views fairly quickly, but "was also getting pushback, like from Rihanna fans in Brazil," Saleh said. "So I said 'OK, let's try another song.'" Before hitting the road back to Knoxville for his second semester of school, Saleh published what continues to be his favorite video to date: President Obama "singing" Lady Gaga's "Born This Way."
"It exploded," he said. "The entire six-hour drive from Memphis, I'm watching this video accumulate 300 thousand, 400 thousand - more views than YouTube can even count. You should have seen me. The whole drive, I was just, 'Oh my God.'"
Saleh's videos differ from most lip dubs on the Internet, because rather than auto-tuning full speeches, he pores over transcripts of the president's remarks, finding individual words that make up the songs' lyrics, and splicing them together - a process that can take weeks. "I don't just choose every time he says that word, I make sure he also says it in a way that flows with the song's rhythm," he said.
When in July, MTV came knocking and asked him to create a commercial for its voter registration initiative featuring both Mr. Obama and Romney, Saleh saw a potential setback in having fewer Romney transcripts at his disposal. Still, he jumped at the opportunity.
"I just kind of liked the idea that I could do something more with these videos than flat-out entertainment, which was the goal all along," he said. "These videos are sort of well known among youth now, and so combining that with a call to action to get out there and register to vote, I think, really reaches out to those who became a little disillusioned after the '08 election.
"I try to keep these all nonpartisan, nonpolitical," Saleh added. "I'm more interested, as a hobby, in looking through these speeches and learning more about them as people - how they present themselves to the world - than talking about their policies."
For example, he noted, Romney "has a totally different inflection than Obama. Every time he'd say a word I wanted to use, it sounded like he was angry, and just shouting. Editing-wise it made it a bit more of a challenge, but it's interesting what it says about his charisma and personality."
While simultaneously working toward medical school, Saleh said he hopes to increase his video production rate to one per week. And with Romney now in the mix, no one's off limits: In addition to one more pre-election "duet" with Romney and Obama, "with a very big, very party feel," Saleh said, his future plans include a spot with Bill and Hillary Clinton.
The president has admitted to seeing the "baracksdubs" rendition of "Call Me Maybe," but Saleh said for him, the coolest part of his undertaking has been the reach of the videos.
"I had some friends visit China recently, and one went into a club where they were playing the audio to my version of 'Sexy and I Know It,'" Saleh said. "How much crazier can this get?"
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