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Barack’s Dubs: How a biochemistry student makes President Obama sing
You’ve watched the president cover “Born This Way” and “Call Me Maybe.” Now meet the 19-year-old that makes it happen.
We’ve seen President Barack Obama slow jam the news, but who knew that he could party rock?
Fadi Saleh did.
The 19-year-old biochemistry major started Barack’s Dubs, a popular YouTube music video series that slices clips from Obama’s speeches together to forcefully recreate pop songs like “Born This Way” and “Call Me Maybe.” Backed by Maker Studies, his channel has over 127,000 subscribers and an online store, featuring T-shirts featuring Obama dressed as Lady Gaga and Redfoo from LMFAO with phrases like “Tea Party” and “Sorry for party rocking.”
In fact, the series has gotten so popular that viewers often request songs for Barack’s Dubs to dub—not bad considering Saleh makes the videos in his spare time.
“It was late last December, and I was wrapping up there was maybe a week or so left [of school],” Saleh told the Daily Dot. “And I was actually just in the shower and I had a song stuck in my head—‘Drink to That’ by Rihanna—and the idea just popped in my head. What if the president sang this?”
People had AutoTuned the president before, but Saleh wanted to make the president sing. Using videos from the White House public domain and his video-editing skills, he debuted his first video back in January, which showed that even Obama was looking forward to the weekend.
The videos were an immediate success, but Saleh initially kept it to himself. He refrained from posting it to Facebook; until recently he didn’t even use his own name when discussing the videos. He only started to tell people after he posted “Born This Way” online.
“When I went back to college, I uploaded [‘Born This Way’] that morning and took the six-hour drive to get to my college and during the ride is when I realized that the video is going viral,” Saleh said.
“So out of excitement I told a few of my close friends.”
Saleh only has five official videos on the channel so far—and his videos have been retweeted by some of the artists he covers—but the excitement over that can only last for so long.
“For ‘Sexy and I Know It” LFMAO tweeted it and I was excited, but over time that wears off and I was more excited to see the comments on YouTube and the articles people write about it,” Saleh said.
“But it’s a nice added bonus when someone like Justin Bieber tweets it to 24 million of his followers.”
Saleh doesn’t know how many hours he’s spent watching Obama’s speeches, but he says that it takes up to three weeks to put a video together, which gets a little easier with every video.
“If you look through that much footage you see more and more words that you can use in future videos. The word crazy I found back in January when I was working on ‘Born This Way’ because the speech I use for one said the word crazy about 10 times.
“It’s just a matter of memorization.”
Now that Saleh’s out of school for the summer, he has more time on his hands to make more videos, which may even include a Mitt Romney cameo (or even a mash-up) in the near future.
“I plan to keep doing this until people aren’t entertained by it,” he said. “I enjoy doing them myself as well, and people don’t seem to be tired of it yet—or getting anywhere near tired of it.”
Photo by Fadi Saleh
Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and the resident Game of Thrones expert at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has brought her knowledge to conventions like Con of Thrones. She is based in New Jersey.