Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Grand Rapids video goes viral in response to 'dying city' claim

Cross-posted at the Washington Examiner....

No one picks on Grand Rapids, Michigan, and gets away with it, at least, not while Rob Bliss is around.  With his "Grand Rapids LipDub" music video going viral on YouTube -- almost three million hits worldwide since its release a week ago -- Grand Rapids, and Bliss, are hits themselves.

The 22-year-old pulled together a massive effort to counter a report earlier this year in Newsweek that listed Grand Rapids as one of the top ten dying cities in America.  With help from 5,000 volunteer participants from the city, local businesses, local politicians including the mayor, the TV meteorologist, and a $40,000 budget, Bliss has now put Grand Rapids on the map in a way that was beyond his wildest dreams.

Movie critic Robert Ebert called it the greatest music video ever made.

Filmed in one continuous take, the nine-minute lip-dub of Don McLean's "American Pie" is perfectly choreographed as it includes the smiling faces of the community -- fire and police departments, American flag-waving pedestrians, cart-wheeling gymnasts, a band of pillow fighters (which was a nod to an earlier Bliss video), a bride and groom exiting their wedding with bridesmaids and groomsmen singing in sync, a concert, joggers, musicians of all kinds.

The video features the mobile units of local television stations Fox 17, WOOD TV-8, and WZZM, football players making a perfect forward pass, cheerleaders, a marching band, kayakers in the Grand River, a Nerf gun brigade, awesome pyrotechnics, swing dancers, a sparkler brigade, and the whole thing wraps up with a helicopter flight showcasing downtown Grand Rapids with bridges spanning both banks of the Grand River, and ending with giant letters spelling out on the river bank in front of the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum, "Experience Grand Rapids."

Mission accomplished?  It would appear so.

Filmed on a Sunday morning two weeks ago, the downtown streets of Grand Rapids were shut down to allow the production crew time for five continuous takes with no editing.  They pulled it off seamlessly in a mind-boggling achievement that took months to plan and thousands to complete.

While becoming a media sensation in the week since the video's release, Bliss has been a guest on Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends, ABC-TV, and garnered perhaps the best line from comedian and radio host Dennis Miller:
The acerbic comedian, formerly on NBC-TV's “Saturday Night Live," said, “Newsweek telling you your a dying city is like you visiting Moscow and Lenin sits up in his tomb and tells you, you look a little pale.”
The video has put a smile on the faces of people and usually a little toe-tapping goes along with it.  After all, who doesn't know the catchy tune of "American Pie," and probably most of the words?  Now they know Grand Rapids, too.

1 comment:

J.R.Hoeft said...

Having been to Grand Rapids MANY times - and knowing what the people in Michigan have been experiencing - I have to admit I'm really happy for them and what they accomplished in this video. Let's hope some people take the time to visit this wonderful community.