91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The making of the Grand Rapids lip dub (video)

Rob Bliss (in the green shirt) and crew set up for another take of the Grand Rapids lip dub on Sunday afternoon.
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
Rob Bliss (in the green shirt) and crew set up for another take of the Grand Rapids lip dub on Sunday afternoon.

Rob Bliss is known around Grand Rapids for putting on some crazy events. World record Zombie Walks, giant community pillow fights, water balloon fights, the ‘world’s largest inflatable water slide’, electronic music festivals, sidewalk chalk floods…I’m sure I’m forgetting one or two.

The latest is a professional lip dup video featuring at least a thousand people from the Grand Rapids area.

Here's a video we put together on the making of the lip dub:


“What’s a lip dup?”

The next question I’ll usually get.

So imagine you have a ton of people doing karaoke to the same song at the same time. That’s pretty easy. The hard part is shooting a video of those individuals lip-singing (or actually singing) the song in a continuous shot. One take. No edits.

So there’s people set up to sing their part throughout downtown Grand Rapids. There’s a camera mounted to a John Deer Gator vehicle. There’s loudspeakers playing the song. Everyone has to do their part correct, in the camera shot, and at the exact time. Organizing that many people over so much distance is difficult. So why don’t we throw in some explosions, kayakers, and a helicopter too? Time that out too!

We started at 10a.m.; didn’t have our first full take until at least an hour and a half later. The final take (maybe 5 or 6 in total?) came just after 2p.m.

“Who’s paying for this?”

Grand Rapids is not paying for the video. The organizer Rob Bliss raised the money through his non-profit organization. He’s also got plenty of sponsors you’ll probably be able to spot in the video once it’s released this afternoon.

“Why?” or “What’s the point?”

Really Bliss pitched it as a response to Newsweek Magazine listing Grand Rapids as number 10 of America’s ‘dying cities’. The list included Flint and Detroit too, but Grand Rapidians seem to be taking the designation more personally. The mayor wrote a letter to the magazine.

Bliss hopes the lip dub will go viral online, promoting the city in a positive light.

"Where's the video?"

It doesn't come out online until 4p.m. today. I'll post it at Michiganradio.org once I get it.

He picked Don Mclean's "American Pie" for the song. Here's the live version of the song that'll be the base for the Grand Rapids lip dub.


Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
Related Content