All About the 'Auto-Tune the News' Kids

The New York Times Magazine explain these so-called "memes" to readers

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Most people with an internet connection have seen the Gregory Brothers' auto-tuned brilliance on YouTube. For those who haven't, David Itsikoff explains what all the fuss is about with a New York Times Magazine profile of the group that created the Auto-Tune the News franchise and songified viral videos. Itzkoff offers approximately five sort of fascinating revelations about the group.

How it all began:

During the 2008 election season, Michael, who had been interning at production studios, began creating music videos from footage of the presidential and vice-presidential debates and posting them on YouTube. In one, he digitally inserted himself into Barack Obama and John McCain’s first face-off, dressed in a suit and wielding a keytar while singing a mostly pro-Obama message. 

The time Auto-Tune the News got its big break:

Thanks to MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” which showed some segments on-air, and the YouTube news-satire channel Barely Political, which posted them, the “Auto-Tune the News” videos were subsequently viewed millions of times. This was a pretty stunning return on the Gregorys’ time investment, which consisted mostly of Michael working at 1 a.m. on a computer he kept in the closet beneath the stairs of the apartment he continues to share with Andrew.

About their breakthrough interaction with the "Double Rainbow" guy:

The band also tried something else it had never done before: the Gregory Brothers made “Double Rainbow Song” available for purchase on the iTunes store, though in order to do this, it had to first secure Vasquez’s permission. When I spoke by phone with Vasquez, a onetime professional cage fighter who now breeds dogs and is planning a self-sustaining community (“People call me Paul, but my friends call me Bear,” he told me), he said of the hundreds of inquiries he received about collaborations or response videos based on “Double Rainbow,” the request from the Gregory Brothers was just the second to reach him. 

How the "Double Rainbow" guy feels about being a viral sensation:

“This whole thing came because it’s a spiritual mission that I’m on,” Vasquez told me. “If there’s something that’s going to help it, I’m supposed to let it happen.”

And finally, a bit about the stunning scoop that became "The Bed Intruder Song":

The validation of this exhaustive strategy arrived only a few weeks after “Double Rainbow Song,” when the Gregorys were pointed to a video, even before it was posted on YouTube, featuring a young resident of Huntsville, Ala., named Antoine Dodson.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.