Jan 31, 2021

Talking or not talking about Bad Lip Reading

Buble singing in Bad Lip Reading

This year, Bad Lip Reading is ten years old.

The spoof YouTube channel overdubs pop promos and current affairs broadcasts, getting Rebecca Black into a Gang Fight, having the Black Eyed Peas sing about poop, and giving Michael Bublé a scatological hit song about a Russian Unicorn.

This is the point where my jaw drops to the floor. Where did that ten years go? I can't be bothered to cut and paste emojis into Blogger, but if I did, you would be seeing a little yellow face with an exploding head. Ten years. Ten years!

I really liked Russian Unicorn. It turned something as bland as Bublé, who posted a good natured video reply because that somehow is ultimate Bublé, into something full of unhinged energy. Even better was Morning Dew, which mashed together Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Jay-Z to make a peon to furry pet monkeys and broccoli pizza.

Part of me insists I shouldn't like Bad Lip Reading. It revels in the worst pop music (Bieber, BTS, James flipping Blunt) and legitimises it through affectionate parody. It's decidedly off-key in places, referring to women as "chicks" and using a slang word for cerebral palsy that is pretty much verboten in the UK. 

And it's fallen hard for Star Wars fandom, that most tiresome of fandoms, producing songs about seagulls in space, death by chicken-duck, and Yoda's stick ("it's just a stick"). That last one is pretty poor, but then again they did come out with the smooth electro banger Hostiles On The Hill in which the Skywalker guy fights the long leggy things in the Antarctic or somewhere. You can tell I'm a fan.

What's strange about the success of BLR, and channels like it, is its wonky place in popular culture. Take traditional TV as a comparison. 30 million people watched the Eastenders episode in which a vengeful Dirty Den give Angie divorce papers for Christmas. For years, that scene appeared in compilation shows and newspaper lists. It turned Christmas dark, and soaps have never looked back since.

The most successful BLR video has four times the views: their top five videos have racked up a third of a billion watches. Yet in the past ten years, I don't think I've experienced a single 'watercooler' moment about Bad Lip Reading. The same goes for other YouTube big hitters at the geekier end of culture: Tom Scott, Drew Gooden, those never-ending Vox factual videos.

This is all to do with the fractal nature of modern entertainment, where the metaphorical family sofa has been replaced by a wide scattering of deck chairs: the watercooler is now a zillion single water bottles. This more personal method of video consumption means we can spend an entire evening wasted on Fail Army clips without ever mentioning it to anyone ever. Maybe one day you'll mention it on a blog. Maybe.

And yet, I don't fully buy that. It's not fractal, is it. What we've done, in the UK at least, is swap four or five terrestrial television channels (and a wall of DVDs) with fewer providers of televisual entertainment. YouTube and Netflix dominate the market as BBC1 and ITV did in the olden days. I don't have Freeview or anything, but don't tell me that endless menu of things you don't want to watch adds up qualitatively to anything more than a single day of programming on Channel Five.

Anyway. Go and watch Bad Lip Reading videos so we can talk about it one day. A lot of it sounds like Uptown Funk but there are roses among the thorns. One of their BTS videos is childish cack, but the more recent BTS one seems to take ballad writing seriously.

What did we do without YouTube? Actually, we watched Flash videos. Badger, badger, that sort of thing. That is, oh goggle-eyed viewer, a whole different blog post.

Further Fats: Insanity Prawn Boy (2005)

Jan 22, 2021

An update: so whose blog post is this?

Hello. My name's Fat Roland. You might remember me from 'Fat Roland: A Space Odyssey', 'Dude Where's My Fat Roland' and 'The Fat Roland Who Went Up A Hill And Came Down A Mountain'.
I thought I'd plop a quick update on my blog, lest you think I've been kidnapped by monkeys or something. Most of these updates are trivial. One is not (but don't worry, it's nothing too serious).

Update one. I've been listening to a lot of Pet Shop Boys, and I'm in awe of the lyric:
I'm always hoping you'll be faithful
But you're not I suppose
We've both given up smoking 'cause it's fatal
So whose matches are those?
Update two. I had to postpone my Seven Inch show for obvious lockdown reasons, but it's all cool because I'll do an online version that is going to kick ass. And because it'll be online, I'm going to have to storyboard my whole show, which will be equally fun and brain-breaking.

Update three. I've just realised I'm the same age Susan Boyle was when she first appeared on Britain's Got Talent. I also saw a picture of myself which made me realise I'm now properly middle-aged. I'd better do something constructive with my life, like being a brain surgeon or flying helicopters or something.

Update four. A few days ago, I got evacuated. And no, I don't mean I had a bodily mishap with a hoover. The river Mersey got a bit angry and I got a phone call from Floodline telling me my life was in immediate danger and I had better do something about it. I spent the night at a friend's place, then went back to a thankfully unflooded home once we'd be given the all-clear. My main takeaway. A bit of discombobulation, but it was amazing to visit my friends. Thank you, friends.

Update five. Did you notice that update four was the non-trivial one? You did? Good.

Update six. I tweeted "I miss Donald Trump. His touch. His embrace. His warm breath. His fine collection of venus clams" and it only got two likes, and now I'm worried people will think I actually want to touch Donald Trump.

Update seven. Yeesh. I've said Donald Trump too much. Bernie Sanders is way better. I think he looks great in those mittens.

Update eight. That's it. That's all my updates. This was a bitty blog post without much focus, but better to have some scruffy words than none at all.

Jan 6, 2021

Happy new 2021 Fat Roland


Happy 2021, idiots.

Yeah, you heard. I called you an idiot and you can do nothing about it. This is the new me: confident, assertive, dominant, and wearing a special hat that says "I am the best".

In previous years, my new year's resolutions have been pathetic. Staying off Facebook, answering emails more quickly, being nicer to dogs, that sort of thing. Those resolutions are for small-minded losers. The new me, the 2021 me, is going to have a big mind.

Everything is going to be bigger.

Strap in, because these ten 2021 resolutions are so full of confidence, they're going to blow your socks off. You have rubbish socks, by the way. Yeah, you heard.

Resolution 1:
Beat Gary Kasparov at chess

I reckon I can take him. I watched that chess drama with the gaudy wallpaper and I'm an expert at chess now. The castle goes down the edges, the donkey does a sideways jump like it's avoiding an ants' nest, and the tall one just stands at the back and does nothing. Easy. Once I've trounced him at chess, I'm going to destroy him at Ludo.

Resolution 2:
Become a superstar DJ like they had in the 90s

I mean, how hard can it be? Stick a cassette tape on, pretend to move all the knobs, move the vinyl back and forth while saying "wickedy-wah", get on the front cover of Mixmag. I'm going to wear a tie-dye shirt with smiley faces on. The only song I'll play is Doop by Doop.

Resolution 3:
Populate Mars

Pretty simple. Buy a nice house on Mars, preferably near a newsagents and a well-maintained public leisure centre. And then populate the planet by either sexy bonky times or a mass cloning programme. I've not worked out the details: my many offspring can sort that out. I'm sure my logic's pretty solid on this one.

Resolution 4:
Patent a two-tier urinal system

Men! Fed up of queuing for a wee in public toilets? Want to avoid todger-tinkling tailbacks? I will invent a two-tier urinal system to speed things up. I can't reveal too much for intellectual property reasons, but Tier One is "Measured Micturition", which involves a tape measure and a waterproof notepad, and Tier Two is "Splash And Dash" which involves standing in the doorway and arcing over the loo queue. Just hand me my million pounds now, Dragon's Den.

Resolution 5:
Host the 2021 Olympics

I will become an Olympic host, just like a country. I don't know if we're due an Olympics this year: Sebastian Coe won't return my calls. But I will totally host it single-handedly. I might not have stadiums (the correct plural of which is "stadiumii"), but I can run around my living room in jogging bottoms balancing an egg in a ladle. Not a real egg, obviously, I'm not stupid.

Resolution 6
Become the world's tallest man

I'll just stand on some bricks or something.

Resolution 7
Win all the marathons

All of them. London, Munich, Sydney, Bhutan, everywhere. Eddie Izzard did loads of marathons because standup comedians run about a lot on stage, so it was a natural progression. I don't want to do any actual running: I'm pretty sure if you bung the finish-line marshals a few quid, they'll plant a few bogus "this way" signs so my competitors get lost and/or fall into a crocodile pit.

Resolution 8
Become 'Back Flip Guy'

Just imagine. I'm in a board meeting. Some suit is pointing at figures on a white board. The big boss at the head of the table asks for blue-sky thinking. I do a back flip right out of my chair, and everyone says it's "well skill" while doing the gangsta hand-snap thing. Hey! I'm the Back Flip Guy! It's what I do! See also: AA meetings, supermarket queues, rollercoasters, egg-ladle racing.

Resolution 9
Invent Star Wars

Do you know how much money Star Wars made? It was like a thousand pounds or something. I'm going to get rich by inventing Star Wars, although I'd get rid of all those little furry animals and the droopy-faced racist guy and all the robots and anything to do with space. It's basically going to be a dozen films of me sat in my pants playing computer Solitaire. The merch is going to be amazing.

Resolution 10
Use the word "horse" instead of other more useful words

My final resolution is going to horse your brain. I'm going to horse a seventy-foot horse in front of a crowd of horse, while horse-rope walking across a huge chasm which is horse metres high. Everyone will totally horse, and within horse weeks, horse will ask me to horse a horse, with horse horse and horse. Horse horse ladle, horse, horse on horse horse. Horse— (that's enough horsing around - ed)

Further Fats: Top ten ways to write a top ten music list (2012)

Further Fats: The only new year list that counts (2017)