"Tik Tok," the debut single from the young electropop singer Ke$ha, is a thick, buzzing pileup of synths and disco beats, draped with heavily Auto-tuned lyrics about getting thrown out of nightclubs and brushing one's teeth with whiskey. It's not a song that lends itself to the "heartfelt acoustic ballad" treatment. But that's the approach Rod Pires, a teenager from Wakefield, Rhode Island, takes in the above clip. Accompanying himself on guitar, Pires finds a melody in "Tik Tok" that was only barely present in the original version, and sings the whole song without a trace of irony; his grin suggests the surprised joy of someone who's discovered a rush of feeling in the unlikeliest of places.
A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities