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Bad Lip Reading is a YouTube channel which replaces the original audio track of music videos and clips of celebrities, musicians and politicians with another that seemingly plays in sync with the speaker’s or the singer’s lip movements.
The Bad Lip Reading YouTube channel was created by an anonymous man from Texas on March 21st, 2011. The first video uploaded to the channel was a parody of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” with the phrase"gang fight" dubbed over the chorus (shown below). Three days after it was uploaded, on March 24th, 2011, the video was shared on Urlesque and reached the front page of Reddit with 1,288 upvotes.
The blogger behind the channel, sometimes referred to as The Bad Lip Reader, has claimed that he used to mute his television after his mother lost her hearing in an attempt to understand what she was going through. During this experiment, he realized that he was not very good at lip reading and often misread what the people were saying. Later in life, he was inspired to make videos of his misinterpretations after watching footage of a radio talk show where one of the hosts was mouthing words in between talking. While trying to figure out what he was saying, he came up with random word combinations including “bacon hobbit” and “moose potion, poke me.” He then recorded the phrases, syncing this audio with the video and found that it looked believable.
Though Bad Lip Reading is one of the most well-known lip dub channels, it was not the first to create humorous dubs of videos on YouTube. A Star Trek: The Next Generation lip dub was created by YouTuber DayJobOrchestra and posted on February 17th, 2009. It consisted of footage from the sci-fi television series with incoherent babble dubbed over to match the lip movements of the actors.
As of August 2013, the Bad Lip Reading YouTube channel has 41 videos, more than 2.3 million subscribers and more than 248 million views, receiving an average of 276,000 views each day. Videos and GIFs of Bad Lip Reading episodes can be also found on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and iTunes. The series has been featured on Rolling Stone, the Daily Kos, Funny or Die, the Huffington Post and Mediaite. and the producer has been interviewed by the Washington Post, The Village Voice, New Media Rockstars and Rolling Stone.
The channel initially broke out into mainstream popularity with its dubbed parodies of political press conferences and advertisements paid for by the candidates of the 2012 U.S. presidential election. On September 18th, 2011, the first Bad Lip Reading remix featuring a politician’s soundbites was uploaded, using footage of Texas governor and 2012 Republican presidential nomination candidate Rick Perry. Several more Republican politician dub videos were subsequently uploaded, including presidential nominee candidates Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney. In April 2012, vice presiden Joe Biden became the first Democrat politician to appear in a Bad Lip Reading video.
TV & Films
The NFL Edition
On January 15th, 2013, a special edition of Bad Lip Reading featuring clips of NFL athletes and coaches in mid-conversation was uploaded to the YouTube channel. The video immediately went viral and gained more than 42 million views over the course of nine months. As of October 2013, the NFL edition is by far the most viewed episode in the entire series.
On Tumblr and Reddit, there are dozens of GIFs highlighting memorable clips from the episode.
Search queries for “bad lip reading” picked up in March of 2011, around the same time the Rebecca Black parody video was uploaded. Search volume increased rapidly in September of 2011 after the politician lip reading videos were uploaded.
The Washington Post – Bad Lip Reading- behind the viral videos everyone’s talking about
Rolling Stone – Rick Santorum Gets the ‘Bad Lip Reading’ Treatment
Huffington Post – Mitt Romney Gets Another ‘Bad Lip Reading’ (VIDEO)