Tag Archives: autotune

Dancing Bears and Acrobats? Not in this Hugo Chávez Show

Loving Hugo Chávez’ bit from Auto-Tune the News #9 made me go back and watch an old episode of PBS’ Frontline I first saw last year. “The Hugo Chávez Show” documents Chávez’ rise from the military ranks and idealism of the Bolivarian movement to become President of Venezuela, all the while dancing like frenemies with the media. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in South America, international politics, or media history. Here’s a preview…

The program, which can be viewed in its entirety here in either English or Spanish, pays particular attention to Chávez’ weekly television program Aló Presidente. AP is an unusual show in many ways. First of all, it has no definite ending time. Chávez basically just talks and talks for however long he wants—usually around five hours. Mostly it is unscripted, so you never know when President Chávez is going to switch topics, a fact that has his cabinet on pins and needles throughout the program. Often Chávez will call on one of them out of nowhere—they’re all expected to attend each taping in its entirety—and grill them about the finer points of the Venezuelan state. Give the wrong answer and you might find yourself out of a cabinet post the next day. The location of the show also often changes. So you might as easily get Chávez preaching from a stage as singing in the streets of Caracas or taking a helicopter tour of a construction site.

(Chávez breaks into song.)

All this continues to be relevant for the Americas. Take the most recent flare up over the Falkland Islands, which the Argentines call las islas Malvinas. If you haven’t heard (which wouldn’t be surprising if, like me, you live in the sexy pork obsessed United States), a British oil company has started drilling operations near the islands recently. This lit up the Argentine government. While the islands are considered part of the United Kingdom by many governments and the vast majority of the islands’ inhabitants, Argentina has made claim to them ever since its independence from Spain. This led to a brief but nasty war in 1982 between Britain and Argentina that still simmers. Meanwhile, fellow South American Hugo Chávez is obvious about his feelings on the topic and uses his television program as a pulpit: Give them back, Queeny; the empire is over. Situations like this make me glad I don’t work in international relations.

Hugo Chávez (Auto) Tuned In

I hope you’re familiar with Auto-Tune the News…because it’s brilliant. A fun little side project by The Gregory Brothers, ATN consists of short videos that the band makes by running various politicians, celebrities, talking heads, and themselves through Auto-Tune software, which is a meant to correct pitch in song recordings. The process brings out the inner singer in folks like President Obama, Katie Couric, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and any number of Fox commentators and congressional members, as well as showcasing the sometimes ridiculous nature of political speech and commentary. My favorite is #5 (the following video), which was stuck in my head for months last year after it first came out. “It’s the sm-o-o-o-o-ke!”

But somehow I missed #9 until today, and boy was there a hole in life without it. The video starts with none other than Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez laying down a melody and displaying some fine air guitar. While Chávez is known for his often hours-long Sunday address/television program Aló Presidente, which currently has an archive of almost 350 episodes, I had no idea he had such a beautiful auto-tuned voice!