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Presidential debate: How would you rate this musical parody? (+video)

The musical comedy stylings of The Gregory Brothers are audio-video parodies of the presidential debates. The latest one, set to music, replicates Tuesday night's town-hall debate between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. 

By Staff / October 18, 2012

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama spar during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University, Tuesday, Oct. 16, in Hempstead, N.Y.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

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If the 1.5-hour-long presidential debate format tends to tax your ability to remain engaged, you might try the condensed, "songified" YouTube version.

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Alicia is editor of the Monitor home page.

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The Gregory Brothers, aka schmoyoho, have, for the third time, provided a musical video parody of the latest Election 2012 debate. The Brooklyn-based band has previously "songifed the first presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, as well as the vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan.

Now debates are a serious business, designed to help voters make up their minds about the issues and the candidates. So, it's difficult to argue that these videos offer any value beyond entertainment. It's sort of like arguing that you can be a well-informed voter only by watching Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" hosted by Jon Stewart.

Nonetheless, these video parodies are a product of the times and are finding an audience.

As of the time of this writing on Thursday the video seen here on youtube, has 273,537 hits. 

So, who are The Gregory Brothers?

The unique musical stylings are made up by a group of three brothers originally from Virginia named Evan, Michael, and Andrew, when they began making mixed tapes from their living room. According to the group's website, their work hadn't really taken off until 2007 when Evan's wife Sarah from Texas joined, completing the quartet. After sharing their original country & soul, folk, and rock & roll tunes on a local 50 show tour, they then decided to make their Youtube series, "Auto-Tune the News" in 2008, with hopes of enticing more people to be interested in "C-Span if it thumped with a bass line and a beat," their website states. 

In a New York Times op-ed, Dave Itzkoff writes in this 2011 profile of the band, "They do this by taking footage that has already been widely circulated around the Internet — a viral video sensation — and they, to use a word from their lexicon, 'songify' it."

The Gregory Brothers use an auto-tune - an audio processor that digitally alters the pitch creating an effect that makes a speaker sound like they're singing. In this case, they've taken the actual debate participants and altered their voices to make it sound like they're singing. They've also introduced their own melody, instruments, and characters to the debate setting. Check out this behind-the-scenes look at the overnight effort to create the latest video. 

The latest video begins with debate moderator Candy Crowley, strumming a guitar and in rap-style, singing “Welcome to the town hall debate where ordinary people talk to the candidates.”

The video "songifies" several of the topics of the Tuesday night debate: healthcare cost, jobs, tax rates, equal pay for equal work for women, with town hall attendees Skippy, Chad, and Cynthia asking “What are you gonna do.”

And feel free to sing along.

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