So, last week, a 7 ft clown dropped by my apartment to sing an epic cover of Lorde’s “Royals.” NBD.
Puddles the Clown (of Puddles Pity Party) is actually Big Mike Geier, an amazing vocalist, bandleader, and performance artist from Atlanta. I first witnessed his “Puddles” character from onstage at the Manderley Bar in New York City, having previously been informed that I would be accompanying a 7 ft singing clown. His act was incredible: some highlights included Puddles’ intentionally awkward start (he wandered around, latern in hand, and then stood onstage for five minutes completely silent and motionless before starting), his non-use of clowning props (he brought out a giant flower and a series of nested suitcases, but did nothing with them), and his manner of connecting with the audience (at one point, towering over a girl that was nervously texting and singing glorious baritone high notes directly at her from above). Above all, the idea of a giant, lonely, clown with an amazing singing voice struck me as simple yet brilliant performance art.
I knew right away that this character was too amazing NOT to feature in a video.
The song choice was easy for this one: I had enjoyed hearing Lorde’s song, “Royals,” on the radio, and it seems serendipitous that Puddles wore a crown on his head as part of his costume. Besides, what better way to really flesh out the on-the-outside-looking-in -ness of the song’s lyrics than to have them sung by a giant sad clown?
Style-wise, I took advantage of Big Mike’s natural Tom Jones-esque vocal style and arranged the tune in the style of an epic 70′s piano driven ballad, with just a hit of James Bond. Our bassist, Adam, bowed the bass notes — he often gets mistaken for playing a ‘giant cello,’ anyway — and Allan held down a funky eight note groove on drums. I also recruited Robyn and another talented vocalist, Cristina Gatti, to do backup vocals (note: both of them are actually of average height; Puddles is really that tall). It was a pretty perfect Halloween video, if I do say so myself. Well, except for the fact that there wasn’t room for me in the frame…I need a bigger living room…
Apparently, the internet agreed. The video shot to the front page of Reddit, and, the next day, to the front page of YouTube. The Huffington Post was the first major news outlet to feature it, and many other viral news blogs ran with it soon after. The Puddles Pity Party Facebook page is now being updated to accommodate the influx of new fans.
For those that would like to see a chord chart for my arrangement of “Royals,” I’ve provided one:
Much of it was kept pretty close to the original chords, but I modified the chorus to include chord changes that were more evocative of a 70′s James Bond theme, in keeping with the “Tom Jones” vibe. I also threw in a whole step modulation at the end, so that Puddles could show off some high notes. The last measure includes a “Clown Abruptly Leaves” directive, which really ties it all together, IMO.
Happy Halloween from Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox!