Some people look at an incomprehensible video of a chunky pop star rapping about a neighborhood in Seoul and think: I have no idea what is going on these days. Luke Thompson, a soft-spoken fellow who's Minnesota's version of Weird Al Yankovic, thought "surely, a Minnesota version of this is not only possible, but necessary."
Thus was born "Minnesota Style," a rewording of Korean rapper Psy's international hit, "Gangnam Style." It's a funny, professionally done video, shot all over town, every non sequitur lyric tossing out a local quirk.
Like Psy, Luke does the goofy horse-riding dance. Unlike Psy, he doesn't have 300 million hits on YouTube. Yet. But 200,000 hits isn't hay. Describe your vast production company, please:
"My sisters appear in a lot of the videos," Luke says. "And my next-door neighbor Dan. We record the vocals in my sister's bedroom." What? No studio with expensive equipment? "We recorded 'Minnesota Gurls' with a broken nine-dollar microphone."
"Minnesota Gurls," a parody of Katy Perry's hit, first brought Luke attention -- or rather, made the world aware of his persona, Mippey5. "That was the name of my stuffed animal, a Mickey Mouse. I had so many Mickeys I had to change the middle letters, and he was always 5 years old."
Ah. Mystery explained. So how long did this opus take?
"I usually hop on them right when they're released, but this one, being a Korean song, I didn't get the idea until the wave was at its height. We started filming a week or so ago." A week? You did that in a week? "Well, we did film all day Sunday."
If it sounds like something done for a lark, wrong: This is a business. "I am doing YouTube, as my quote job unquote, I guess. I got accepted into the YouTube partner program, so the ads that show up on the videos, that's where I get my revenue. It all depends on how many views and how engaged people are -- if no one's watching, there's no income. It's pretty unpredictable."
He has a fallback. A St. John's grad, he teaches elementary school and interns for the Minnesota Opera. Good, you think: There might not be a career in putting a Minnesota spin on pop songs.
"I've been trying to find a balance" with the subject matter, he says. "My ideal market is everywhere in the world, but I do want to pay homage to my state." Perhaps he could be Minnesota's cultural ambassador to the world through the Internet -- until Psy is parodying his videos someday.
Luke pauses. "That would be quite the responsibility."
Go Google "Minnesota Gangnam Style." A big responsibility, yes. He can handle it.