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Microsoft Songsmith is an application by Microsoft’s research wing. According to Microsoft, “Songsmith generates musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice. Just choose a musical style, sing into your PC’s microphone, and Songsmith will create backing music for you.” This description amply describes the program’s function, but does not explain what it is about Songsmith that has turned it into a meme. Two things turned it into a meme: a hilarious awful promo video gone viral, and a hilarious awful application available for free download.
Part 1: The Promo Video
On January 8th, Microsoft released the application and a bunch of support material, including a promo video they called: Everyone Has A Song Inside. While many would argue the video disproves this aphorism, the video’s plot involves a man (played by Microsoft engineer Dan Morris) who is struggling to find an angle for advertising some glow in the dark towels. While complaining about this in his kitchen in the morning, his eerily chipper daughter begins to sing. She’s using songsmith on what is pretty clearly a Macbook Pro covered in stickers. It remains unknown exactly why Microsoft used an Apple laptop in the commercial, but the crowd on YouTube loved it. To quote user rmbgi, “I thinks this works better with a Macbook pro :) The apple logo is covered with stickers LOL…” Anyway, the dad goes and sits with his daughter. He is blown away by the quality of the program, and, perhaps not understanding that a free trial is available for download, steals the laptop from his daughter.
The video cuts to the next scene, which is in a coffee shop. He has just finished recording the first take of his glow-in-the-dark towel jingle, and begins to play it back. Right as he hits play, a rockstar (played by Microsoft Engineer Sumit Basu) and a waitress (neither of which seem to have any respect for his privacy) watch over his shoulder. After a few bars, the rock star says the classic, “Microsoft, huh? So it’s pretty easy to use?”
The rock star later records his own song in the coffee shop, and the man uses songsmith to create a jingle for the glow-in-the-dark towels, and everyone goes home happy. It is a huge success, and everyone lives happily ever after. This video in itself would have been viral, but what turned this into a meme was the fact that users could download the app and play with it themselves.
Part II: ___________ by ________ (Songsmith Remix!)
Users did download Songsmith. Unsurprisingly, it is not very good at what it is supposed to do. But uploading videos of yourself singing into a computer and the computer butchering it doesn’t do the app’s suckitude justice. That is why people instead isolated the vocals track from various famous songs and fed them into Songsmith. Songsmith then does what it was programmed to do, which might as well have been “prove that Songsmith stinks.” Songsmith Remixes abound on YouTube, and the videos help turn this phenomenon into a meme.
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