Lollapalooza 2012 Cover Medley

Finally, a new music video!  It’s a big one – an 11-song medley of covers from Lollapalooza 2012!  I played “one-man band” covers of the songs (vocals, guitar, keys, synth bass & drums), and I arranged them all together.  And I filmed a fun video to go along with it.  You’ll want to sit down to view this video – it’s almost 13 minutes long!

To view a bigger version, you can click the “full screen” button in the video above.  Or you can open the video’s YouTube page.

I love Lollapalooza.  If you aren’t familiar, Lolla is a music festival held in Chicago every summer.  It’s such a great venue, and so many great bands come to play.  Most of the music is considered Alternative/Indie or Electronic.  You get to see big famous bands, up-and-coming stars, as well as less-known artists.  I really wanted to see Metric, Florence + The Machine, and Justice.  On the other hand, I “discovered” bands like Temper Trap and Chairlift at the festival.

Here’s the tracklist:

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Under the Bridge”
  2. Florence + The Machine: “No Light”
  3. The Temper Trap: “Fader”
  4. Metric: “Sweet Sympathy”
  5. The Black Keys: “Howlin’ For You”
  6. Chairlift: “Amanaemonesia”
  7. Franz Ferdinand: “Take Me Out”
  8. Neon Indian: “Polish Girl”
  9. Passion Pit: “Take a Walk”
  10. M83: “Midnight City”
  11. Justice: “D.A.N.C.E.”

Making the Medley

I’ve never done a medley before.  Creating this medley was an ambitious project.  I started it in August 2012 and finished six months later!  Well most of the delay was from other distractions, but this project did involve a bit of work.  I’ll talk about the challenges in several aspects: arranging, performing, and production.

Arranging. When you do a medley, you first need to figure out which songs could fit.  Good thing there were so many good songs from great bands to choose from.  You also need to arrange the songs in some reasonable order.   Finally, you also need to match the rhythms and key signatures/chords between the songs. 

  • I had to throw a few songs out.  For example, I really wanted to play “Bruises” by Chairlift, but the song was way too fast to fit with the rest of the medley.
  • “No Light” is a great song, but the slow, syncopated rhythm of the main part didn’t fit anywhere (the medley was either fast rock or disco).  So I decided to perform only the song intro.
  • As discussed in the video, I had to put all the rock songs in the first half, then transition to all the disco/dance songs.  The rock songs in the medley go much faster (~160-170 bpm) than the disco songs (~120-130 bpm, if I recall correctly).  Rock beats are different from disco too.  Rock beats are in pairs: down/up down/up, whereas disco is all even: down down down down (that’s why disco is also known as “four-on-the-floor.”  “Take Me Out” provided the perfect transition that accomplished exactly what I needed.
  • Another cool transition was from “Howlin’ For You” to “Amanaemonesia.”  I couldn’t stand to play “Howlin’ For You” for too long, and I thought it would be cool to make a little fun of it by playing the riff on the keys.  So that’s what I did.  It

Performing.  Although it’s just one music video, I had to learn to sing and play 11 songs.  I performed vocals, guitar, and keys on all the songs.  The bass and drums were synthesized.  Lucikly, most of the guitar and key parts weren’t too difficult for me.

  • Guitar.  “Howlin’ For You” required some blues lead play on the guitar, something I’ve never tried before (I HATE BLUES!!! hehe).  The fast tempo required some fast picking on some songs like “Take Me Out”.  The one super difficult part was the intro to “Under the Bridge.”  I learned it, but I realized my play wouldn’t be good enough to record.  So I abandoned that idea.  
  • Keys. About half the songs had significant keyboard parts.  There were a couple cool keyboard riffs in the medley, in “Amanaemonseia” and “Take a Walk.”  My favorite keyboard thing was the keyboard part show on the bottom half of the “Amanaemonesia” video.  I improvised that entire part one day – you won’t find it on the original Chairlift track! 🙂
  • Vocals.  I’m terrible at remembering song lyrics.  I always forget the words of my favorite songs that I’ve been singing for decades.  I did many recording takes in this medley because I messed up the lyrics haha.  Singing is not my forte; a couple songs were a bit challenging for me.  I probably set the key of a couple songs too high (“Fader” and “Polish Girl” in particular).  But I needed them to be played at those keys so the medley would transition well.  I probably would have sounded better if I had tuned those songs down a step or two.  One nice thing about pushing myself was that I was able to sing some notes I was previous unable to hit 🙂

Production.  When you do a 13-minute video of yourself playing music, you MUST come up with something interesting.  Otherwise your viewers would fall asleep or click elsewhere hehe.  So I tried to spice up the video a bit.

  • I tried to incorporate Visualizers into the video.  These are software programs that create cool graphics that adapts to the music that is played.  I use a few Visualizers: Aeon (used the most), a couple by Wowlabs, and the default iTunes Visualizer.  Oh yeah, I used the Desktop Aquarium screen saver too.
  • I try to learn something new with video production every time I do a new video.  This time, the big thing was using keyers.  You may know this as “green screen” work.  This was super fun.  It allowed me to superimpose myself singing/playing over other videos and photos.

 I hope you enjoy the video!

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