I might as well just give the part of my brain in charge of hearing over to Pharrell since he practically dominated it all year with the song of the spring, the song of the summer, and now the song of the fall. But I would say that his latest song—”Happy“—is probably his crowning achievement of 2013 since he’s managed to create one of the best things I’ve ever seen: A self-described “first 24-hour music video” with hundreds of people dancing and singing along on the streets, sidewalks and various other public spaces of LA.
If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s an edited version, which you can watch here:
But the far more fun experience is to head over to the website and play with the actual 24-hour long video, where you can skip from vignette to vignette, hour to hour, neighborhood to neighborhood, block to block—you get the idea!—seeing new dancers and new locations every few minutes (including an entire section filmed in Union Station). Sometimes they’ll walk outside of a location and right onto the street that’s actually there with a kind of continuity you never usually see. They must have walked a few dozen miles a day just to get all the takes. I had to tear myself away from it to write this blog post but as soon as I’m done I’m picking right back up where I left off, with that guy jamming at the top at 12:15.
We’re very lucky that so many things are filmed in LA so we have these perfectly preserved little time capsules of how our city changes over the years. Usually it’s just a glimpse of a building or a street we recognize in the background, even through a hyper staged set—a piece of LA slipping through when it was supposed to be Anywhere, USA.
But there’s something about the angle of the camera, the improvisational nature of the performers, the buses zipping by in the background, all drenched in that beautiful SoCal light, that makes the city the star. This is one of the most accurate representations of LA’s contemporary urban environment I’ve ever seen. If anyone ever asks me what it was like to be a pedestrian in LA in 2013, I can show them this video and say, yup, that’s pretty much it. Smiling people, palm trees, and sun. DONE.
This video is sweet and utter perfection and everything about it makes me, well, HAPPY. However, there are two things I want someone to do with this video:
1) Watch all 24 hours and live tweet/blog it.
2) Map all the locations.
I’d happily do it. In fact, I could do both at once and everyone could come watch—kind of like The Clock. Invite some of the performers to reprise their roles and have a big 24-hour dance party. Get the Dancelavia kids to program the day. I’m totally serious. I’m available.
More ideas from readers: Josh Berta says we should have a Happy walking tour, where we walk the route (dancing, of course), and suggests other cities should make their own Happy videos. And Steven White proposes a game show where we “spin the wheel” and have it land on a time—whoever guesses the location wins a prize.
Also, a great reminder of another LA walking video: OK Go’s video where they walked a route that spelled out OK GO.