'Debates Are Better as Musicals': How the Gregory Brothers 'Songify' Videos


You're probably among the millions of people who have seen at least one of the Gregory Brothers' auto-tuned viral videos -- the "Double Rainbow Song," maybe, or one of their debate remixes for The New York Times' Op-Docs series. If you've somehow missed out on the hilarity, check out this gem about everything Mitt Romney likes. While political journalists were working round the clock to bring perspective to the last presidential debate, the YouTube stars pulled an all-nighter to remix select soundbites into an entertaining musical number. They've shared a behind-the-scenes peek at the work involved, below.

Cranked out in under 24 hours, the result is surprisingly polished, if not as hilarious as their big hits. It's not like they had a lot to work with! 

The Gregory Brothers are Evan, Michael, Andrew, and Sarah (married to Evan). Their YouTube career began to take off when they started auto-tuning the 2008 debates, which evolved into their Auto-tune the News series. Not all politicians make for great auto-tuned melodies, the brother revealed in a 2011 profile in The New York Times Magazine:

“It’s not necessarily an inherent melodic nature in their voices,” Evan said, “although that can be there. It’s that their use of their speaking voice is more physically akin to the way a singer would use their voice, in terms of projection and delivery and enunciation.”

For example, Andrew said that when they tried to create Auto-Tune videos using Obama’s debate footage or stump speeches, “he was really bad, because he’s so” — he imitated Obama’s clipped delivery — “He’s just. So. Thoughtful.”

Looking at the vice-presidential race, however, Andrew said: “Biden and Palin were not like that at all, even in front of a small crowd. They were just yelling, like, ‘Gaaaawd bless America!’ or ‘Ten million gallons of crude oil!’ ”

Michael agreed. “Biden is one of the top unintentional singers of all time,” he said. “I mean, like, honestly, not even an exaggeration. He’s had some of the best hooks.”

"We try to summon various types of sonic wizardry to coax songs out of those places in the universe that heretofore have been dark, songless corners," one of the brothers noted in a documentary profile by Vice. Indeed.

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
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