Williamsburg Musician Churns out YouTube Hits Transforming TV Talking Heads Into Soulful Songbirds

gorilla042309 Williamsburg Musician Churns out YouTube Hits Transforming TV Talking Heads Into Soulful SongbirdsHere at The Observer, we love a good TV- news-anchor- dance- mash-up.

Last year, we marveled at Torrey Meeks’ hilarious Bill O’Reilly Flips Out—Dance Remix. Today, we got hooked on another brilliant contribution to the genre, Michael Gregory’s new video, Auto-Tune the News #2: pirates, drugs, gay marriage. (Also check out Episode #1.) With the help of an audio-processor, Mr. Gregory—a 24-year-old musician who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn—has transformed a number of talking heads into soulful songbirds.

CBS’s Katie Couric, CNN’s Kiran Chetry, and Fox News’ Sean Hannity—all feature prominently alongside Mr. Gregory in the latest video, singing out news bites about topics like gay marriage, drug control, global warming, and pirates.

At one point in the video, Mr. Gregory’s brother, Andrew, dons a gorilla suit and sings a duet of sorts with Mr. Hannity.

“Well, don’t you worry, baby-boo,” he sings to the Fox Newsman. “You’ll always have an angry gorilla to be angry with you./That’s what I do. Just ask Donkey Kong./He’s in my crew.”

On Thursday afternoon, The Observer caught up by phone with Michael Gregory.

So what inspired him to auto-tune TV newsmen?

Mr. Gregory said that during the presidential campaign he started watching a lot of TV news, a genre of television he had largely ignored in the past. “Some of the vacuous punditry that was going on, I found more funny than even watching, say, Jon Stewart,” said Mr. Gregory. “I thought it’d be fun to make a musical tribute.”

Mr. Gregory said that when he was in college he produced a couple of pop records, which made liberal use of auto-tune. “I used a lot of tuning,” said Mr. Gregory. “They were good singers but they wanted that effect.”

“With lots of hip hop artists using auto-tune so much these days, it’s also a funny testament to how easy it is to do that,” said Mr. continued. “Honestly, Katie Couric could have a side career as a recording artist.”

Mr. Gregory, who is originally from Radford, Virginia, says he finds the TV clips by browsing the news and politics section of YouTube to see what people are watching. He hopes to continue to auto-tune the news on a regular basis.

For his next project, he will be teaming up with the Web site Barely Political to create a 100-day recap video, which he hopes to put up a week from now. “It’s going to be in the same style, going through all the funny pundit clips, talking about Obama’s alleged mess-ups like bowing to the Saudi,” said Mr. Gregory. “It should make for some good auto-tuning.”

When he’s not auto-tuning TV newsers, Mr. Gregory works at a test-prep company here in New York.  He also plays in a band, called The Gregory Brothers, with his siblings and his sister-in-law—who all star in the videos alongside Michael and the TV pundits.

Does Mr. Gregory have a favorite TV newsman?

“I don’t know if it’s possible to like pundits,” said Mr. Gregory. “For the purpose of auto-tune, I’m making new favorites on every video, learning who to use and who not to use.”

“I thought that Hannity would be great because he’s shouting,” added Mr. Gregory. “I was like, ‘That will make great music, that will be an awesome melody.’ But it turned out not to work that well. Whereas, Katie Couric really surprised me.”