Parody 101Sindel Pellion
The search for Eyjafjallajökull is on hiatus but in the meantime, Sindel is going to give us the breakdown on how she does one of the things she is most famous for – Eve parody songs
You’re driving along in the car. No, I don’t know where you’re going. Make something up. Anyway, traffic isn’t that bad and the scenery is flying by. You and your friends (or family) are exchanging banter and talking about life in general. A song comes on the radio that you half-pay attention to. It’s mostly background noise, really. The chorus comes and you hear yourself singing, “I’m on a titan, ready for fighting. All of my fuel I spent on you…”
You’re at the bar with your friends. Someone’s birthday. You’re getting a little buzzed and feeling good. As you stumble around talking to people, you hum a song that the DJ is playing. Suddenly, you hear yourself singing, “I robbed a Goon, took his titan, His emo rage was certain. I robbed a Goon just to try it…”
Dude. It’s okay.
I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. Whether you want to admit it or not, if you play Eve Online with any regularity, you’ve heard the parodies. Some of you may have even gone searching for them. Why the hell not? They’re ridiculously appealing. From ISK ISK, Baby, to Little Bees, to Fight Us Maybe, Eve parody artists have provided us with countless hours of entertainment, both while in-game and IRL.
Yup. I’m one of them. You’re welcome.
A little history lesson, mes amis. If some of my facts are inaccurate, please take it up with Xander. It’s his fault for not hiring a fact-checker. Cheap-ass Gent.
Eve parodies became a thing in 2004, thanks to Eve Radio’s DJ Doby. After Doby came Eve’s most prolific parody artist, Curzon Dax. Beginning around 2007, he released more than 25 songs, before dropping out of sight after scamming hundreds of billions of isk from players. Other artists, like Alekseyev Karrde (Noir. The Musical!) and the incomparable SUAS, made their way onto the scene over the next couple of years, gathering recognition and admirers across New Eden. Then the parody scene exploded in the summer of 2012. David K. Magnus, Cearul, DJ Starstream, Asa Shaddix, DJ Nyliss, blackhuey and myself kinda showed up at the same time armed with catchy pop tunes and giant piles of propaganda about the HBC, SoCo and the general state of the game. Since then, Eve parodies have become a staple in the community. New artists pop up all the time,and can be found showcasing their work on YouTube, SoundCloud and the forums.
(Yes, I know I didn’t name everyone. There are a lot of us. Apologies.)
I’d like to take this opportunity to tell everyone that this shit ain’t easy. Writing a good parody song takes time and recording it takes even more. Note: I said “good”. I do not think all of the songs I’ve heard about Eve Online are good. I, like most of you, have my favorite artists. Some of the others, however, are lacking. No, I will not share my opinion about that. Gossiping about others is unseemly.
So what makes a good parody song? Good question.
There are few rules I follow when writing songs:
1. If you can’t do it as well or better than the original, don’t touch it. Don’t even try. Drop the karaoke track and back away slowly.
2. Only pick songs you know very well. If you hear a song and think it’d make a good parody, listen to it over and over again for hours until you know every word, every beat and every breath. You have to know how to put something together to be able to take it apart, otherwise you risk breaking it.
3. Consider the original to be like your roadmap. Follow it. If you stray too far from it, you’ll get lost. Parodies aren’t about creating your own music; they’re about rewriting popular songs to fit a story you’re trying to tell. With that in mind, if you just pick a song and write your own words, with no regard for rhyme scheme or rhythm, you’re doing it very, very wrong.
This is why it takes me so long to write songs, in case you’re wondering. I’m notoriously OCD about my lyrics. The rhymes always match up and some of the words and/or phrases are exactly the same. If you don’t believe me, listen to an original while singing my lyrics. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Neat, huh? It can be quite the lengthy process. Sometimes, the words just flow. Sometimes, I’m stuck on the same four syllables for a month.
After I’ve taken the time to write a parody, it’s time to think about recording it. Headset mics are less-than-friendly to singing voices, so I have a couple of good recording mics. I record everything on Audacity and export it to Adobe Audition to mix it. Audition is expensive, though, so I don’t recommend people use it if they don’t have to. Then, I need to find a good backing track that doesn’t sound like an 80s cover band recorded it. This takes a surprising amount of time. When I finally find a good backing track, I can start recording!
Something I’ve learned: people can tell when you’re not trying, so I make sure to record a couple of takes instead of barreling through it once and calling it done (unless it’s Titan, then I get the whole thing done in one try, but am never able to duplicate such awesome again). Once that’s all done, I piece together a song, mix it down and share it with all of you. I make that sound like it’s no big deal, but it’s hard. I’m not a sound engineer and I usually work alone. This means mixing a song can take forever and will sometimes drive me to tears. The end result is usually worth it, though.
So, why all of this?
I am pleased to say that after a months-long dry spell, I have finally finished writing a new parody and began recording today. I’m pretty proud of what I have so far and I’m hoping it will be done next week so I can share it in lieu of an article. I thought, before sharing, it’d be neat to write about the effort that goes into making parodies. So here you go. Effort about effort.
Soooooooooooooo, Tinfoil next week!!! Cross your fingers everything goes according to plan. If not, I’m still floating in a damn wormhole, searching for Eyjafjallajökull.