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Monday, July 21, 2014

Beware: You, too, could wind up being Auto-Tuned


Back in the olden days, people became stars by having talent and catching a big break.

Then came reality television, and suddenly people could become stars by participating in televised singing competitions or finding out, on camera, What Happens When People Stop Being Polite and Start Getting Real.

Suddenly, the Internet is offering regular people all new ways to become superstars, and they really don't have to do anything at all. Well, except somehow catch the attention of the Gregory Brothers, the YouTube sensations also known as the "Auto-Tune the News" guys.

The group — Brooklyn-based brothers Michael , Andrew and Evan Gregory and Evan's wife, Sarah — are best known at the moment for making a star out of Antoine Dodson, a 24-year-old Huntsville, Ala., man who was interviewed on a local television channel about a sexual assault against his sister.

His impassioned, anger-fueled interview — in which Dodson colorfully promises to hunt down the perp — was (perhaps inappropriately) aired at great length by the station, and video of the news story went viral nearly immediately.

Then, the Gregory Brothers got ahold of it.

The group had already made a bit of a name for itself with its "Auto-Tune The News" web series, in which the techno-savvy brothers take footage of politicians from news programs and speeches and feed it through an auto-tuner to create a song.

The program turns the subjects — Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, Hilary Clinton and now Antoine Dodson — into "unintentional singers."

The Gregory Brothers, who now have a pilot in the works for Comedy Central, first caught my attention when they made a catchy, hilarious tune out of the Double Rainbow Guy, a man who famously became excessively excited while videotaping the appearance of a double rainbow.

A few weeks later, Dodson's interview hit the Gregory Brothers radar, and they turned it into a hip-hop song and video that's equal parts catchy and hilarious.

The video, now called "Bed Intruder," took off, and was viewed by more than 7 million people in just 10 days.

"Bed Intruder" the song was recently ranked as the Billboard Hot 100's most popular song across every genre by radio airplay, sales and online streaming. It also became one of iTunes' top sellers.

Just in the past few days, Dodson (who's getting half of the profits from iTunes sales because he did, the brothers say, write the lyrics) has appeared on "The Today Show," among other programs, and lyrics from his interview/song have been printed on T-shirts. ("Hide Your Kids. Hide Your Wife.")

The Gregory Brothers' Comedy Central pilot will apparently show the brothers in action, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at how they take a ridiculous news story or YouTube video and turn it into an even more ridiculous song.

It's set to air sometime next year.

My advice to you: Don't do anything newsworthy until then. At least not on camera.

Fun with Autotune

To see the Gregory Brothers' work, log onto YouTube.com and search for "schmoyoho."

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