November 09, 2009


Monday, 9th November. Today, Chartjackers released their single "I've got nothing" for Children In Need, the annual British charity appeal. The four boys have embarked upon quite a formidable journey and I genuinely hope that they will succeed in what they're trying to achieve, so I thought I would spread the word by explaining the idea behind the Chartjackers Project to those who haven't heard of it.

The project was started by Charlie McDonell, Alex Day, James Hill and Jonathan Haggart (more commonly known as Charlieissocoollike, Nerimon, Jimmy0010 and johnnydurham19, their respective pseudonyms), four boys who had already attained considerable popularity on YouTube -- Charlie, for instance, is the third-most subscribed Youtuber in the UK. 10 weeks ago they decided that they would attempt to create a song and get it to no. 1 on the UK Singles Charts, and then donate the money to charity. It sounds banal at first, but the real twist was this: they weren't going to produce the single themselves, but instead it would be made almost entirely by... the Internet! The four boys would be coordinating the project and informing members of the YouTube community, through their regular video updates, how to get involved. Through collaborative effort, the Internet would "hijack the charts"! In 10 weeks! I will go through the steps by which the single was gradually constructed.

  • Lyrics: It was decided that the song should be a cheesy pop song, in the spirit of the 80s or 90s. A video was posted in which the group kindly asked Youtubers to submit, in the comment section, one line each. Only restriction: it had to be as kitsch, superficial and as cheesy as possible. In other words, a line that could fit into any stereotypical love song, devoid of deeper meaning. "Metaphors are good". The projects kicked off, and thousands of comments were posted, each offering a possible line. People were then were encouraged to have a look through the submitted lines, compile them into an actual song and send it to the ChartJackers by email, whereafter the four boys would have a look at the submissions and choose the one that they found the most suitable. The lyrics were done.

  • Melody: Another video was posted, this time asking people to make up a melody, film their performance of the song (the lyrics had been made public by this point), and post the video on YouTube. The four boys would then go through these numerous video responses, and pick the most catchy melody. Again, the theme was "80s or 90s pop song". The performing abilities of the video bloggers in question were disregarded -- all that mattered was the melody itself. A melody was chosen, and the ChartJackers now had a song. Or at least the very basis structure of a song. They now needed a band and a producer.

  • Producer: Having realised that they would not be able to record the song single-handedly, the ChartJackers sent out a message that they were looking for someone who could help them out. A budding producer got in contact with them, and told them that he was very interested in their project and would love to give them a hand.

  • Band: Again, people were asked to submit videos of themselves performing the song, except this time the melody had been agreed upon, and the focus was therefore on the performance itself. The ones that looked promising were then asked to turn up for an audition, and the boys now had to go through the most difficult task of choosing which one was the best. In the end, it came down to not just talent but also looks, since an important factor in the success of the single would be the look of the band. Two performers (Adam and Miranda) had what it took, and luckily they seemed to be able to work together easily.

  • Recording: Most of the song was produced in a closed studio without the participation of the YouTube community. However, the ChartJackers posted a new video giving people another opportunity to get involved: if one were to submit a video of themselves clapping to the rhythm and/or singing along, the sound could be included in a special clap-and-sing-along part of the track. The responses were overwhelming.

  • Music video: The music video would contain footage of Adam and Miranda singing the song in a park, but that would only be part of it. The online community was now asked to submit videos of themselves literally performing the lyrics as well as they could. For example, one could be holding a medal while the line "I've won the greatest prize" was being sung. Charlie McDonnell proceeded to edit all these clips into one big music video, which would be a visual representation of the enormous collective effort that had gone into the making of the single. The sing-and-clap-along clips were naturally included.

In the end, the ChartJackers had a song. And boy is it catchy! It's available for 79p on iTunes, since the four boys didn't have the means to produce an actual CD. The money paid for downloading it goes directly to Children In Need, but only the sales made by people in the UK will count towards the UK Singles Charts. If you'd like to hear what the song sounds like, the ChartJackers have already posted a high-quality version of the official music video on YouTube. You can find it here.

I honestly hope that they are going to make it, if not to the no. 1, then at least to the Top 40. Something like this has never been done before, and it would be amazing to show the world what today's online community is capable of if they work together.

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