The day was (probably, around) August 10th, 2013. It was the time that Lady GaGa released her single “Applause” and Katy Perry released her single “Roar”. I had the ambitious idea to download both songs that morning in order to familiarize myself with the tunes enough to record a solo piano cover of each that evening. I hadn’t heard either song before but I listened to both recordings on a loop so playing them on the piano would be a trivial exercise later. I thought I’d be the first on the market with these covers and my YouTube channel would get the recognition it deserved in my head. But alas I was wrong. I was very wrong. There were already thousands of piano covers online recorded well before the official release of the single. I didn’t bother recording either song. I ended the day having nothing to show from this except embarrassingly high iTunes play counts for these pop songs. “Applause” was an otherwise worthless song but Roar seemed fun and worthy of a pop hit. It does sadden me a bit that my 4-year old daughter associates Katy Perry with “Eye of the Tiger” instead of Survivor.
On the opposite end of this spectrum are the songs that I record myself playing for my annual Top 30 project. Most of these songs are too niche and have almost no audience for a solo piano rendition. My cover of Steep Canyon Rangers “Tell the One I Love” has 23 views after almost 2 years. It has no competition, but it also has virtually no audience.
My notable skill at the piano is my ability to pick up a song very quickly. This works great at a bar or a party (or just entertaining myself) but doesn’t translate well to a YouTube video. It’s assumed that a YouTube video is the polished best-effort and it’s not relevant how long it took the player to prepare. But there’s a balance out there for me somewhere; a tune that isn’t saturated by covers or that is too obscure for an actual audience. One where my video is the best simply because it is the first and only one. I found that balance in Disney’s Teen Beach Movie.
The movie came out in 2013, apparently seeking to re-create the magic of High School Musical with a new cast and setting. I don’t know exactly how I stumbled upon it but I like to think it was due to my 2-year old daughter who still repeats the phrase “ready freddie” from the movie today without knowing its origins. While it was a marginal hit for Disney it wasn’t the blockbuster sensation that High School Musical was. It had a cult following in the pre-teen crowd who may enjoy a piano cover of their favorite summer song, but not have the skills to perform it themselves. The solo piano version of a medley of songs from Teen Beach Movie has 17,000 views as of this writing, and while that may not seem like enough to brag about, it’s by far the most successful thing I’ve ever posted to the Internet. Here’s the video:
Why am I mentioning this now, two years after the release of both the original movie and my cover video? Teen Beach Movie 2 was just released in June and I felt compelled to again create a solo piano rendition of a medley of songs. I’m premiering it now. First!
But what if Teen Beach Movie is the trilogy we all hope it to be? Well, I guess I’ve leveled the playing field by revealing the secret. I’m up for the challenge.