2016 craziness leads to brilliant and funny music videos

Now, this fake Japanese commercial for Trump is spot-on and hilarious. But the seriousness and inevitably silliness of a campaign that started out with 20+ candidates and now has our first reality TV star as a nominee, well, you’re going to get more than one video from that.

Here’s Obama singing Rihanna’s WORK.

And here’s brother Bernie belting out POWER by Kanye.

Hillary and Barack team up for TIMBER by Pitbull.

It takes skill to create these videos. I think they work because of the high contrast between the highest politicians in the land and low-brow pop songs. The more banal the pop song, and the harder it is to figure out the lyrics (love Rihanna, but nobody understands what she’s singing in WORK), the more funny the video is.

The original Serious Footage Turned Into Song, though, is still the best: Brian Williams absolutely nails RAPPER’S DELIGHT.

7 reasons why music videos possess tremendous power

music video meme sound of music

This is about why lectures never work, poetry is powerful, even instrumental music can make you cry and the humble, silly music video can be one of the most devastating weapons of persuasion and change on this little rock orbiting a ginormous burning ball of nuclear fusion and fire.

1) Lectures never work

If you have a toddler, or a teenager, or are married, you are well aware of this fact.

Lectures are basically journalism, writing or speaking to inform. If your purpose is to persuade, journalism and lectures won’t do the job.

It’s common to hear, “If I just had more TIME to explain the facts, they’d understand and agree with me.”

No. The longer you stretch out a lecture or bit of journalism, the more bored and hostile your audience will become. Because structurally, writing and speaking to inform is a horrible format for anything of length and not designed to persuade at all. (Related: Why the Inverted Pyramid must DIE) Continue reading “7 reasons why music videos possess tremendous power”

How Obama’s 2015 State of the Union tries to break the mold

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo By Chuck Kennedy)
President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo By Chuck Kennedy)
President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo By Chuck Kennedy)

State of the Union speeches are tough. Here’s why:

(1) By tradition, you have to lay out a laundry list of policy ideas.

(2) Laundry lists are inherently boring.

(3) By law, each president is required give this speech and to have guests in the audience, sitting next to the First Lady or First Man (yes, we will have a lady president one day, so this title needs to be discussed), and those people in the audience get talked about at some point in the speech. I believe Ronald the Reagan started this.

(4) Okay, giving a State of the Union speech every year is not actually a law. It’s really in the U.S. Constitution, as explained here.

(5) The audience is made up of members of Congress, which means half of them will applaud if the president successfully pronounces “America” while members of the other party will sit on their hands and sneer even if you go full Oprah on them and announce that free puppies and tax breaks for each of their districts are sitting UNDER EVERY SEAT. Continue reading “How Obama’s 2015 State of the Union tries to break the mold”

Watch this rare and beautiful graduation speech – DO IT NOW

writing meme spiderman dear diary

Most graduation or commencement speeches put the B in Boring and fall into three categories: (1) standard “go change the world!” blah-blah you’ve heard 20 times before, (2) people trying to be very Deep, and Meaningful, but are mostly Confusing as they push their personal pet thing and (3) speakers trying to be funny when they have no experience or business being funny, ever, if their life depended upon it.

This man avoids all of those pitfalls.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s actually funny, and that he used to write speeches for some woman named Hillary and some dude named Barack.

For the actual words, or as many as exist on the Series of Tubes, here’s a link to the main body of text from the speech in The Atlantic.

Also: We need a similar magazine on the West Coast full of such smart things about literature and politics and life. I say we call it The Pacific.

Also-also: Hat tip to my speechwriter buddy Jen Waldref (on the Twitter: @olywordsmith) for sending this my way. Jen, you rock.

Also-cubed: If you know of an epically bad graduation speech, I’d love to see the text or YouTube clip.