Backwards singing video with comedy reverse-film effects

In this youtube, a young man sits down at a table and begins singing backwards (I won't spoiler the video for you by naming the song), while undertaking a variety of time-bound activities -- popping balloons, knocking over a Jenga tower, pouring liquid, etc. At the halfway mark, the video rolls again, in reverse, with all those time-bound effects doing that cool liquid-pouring up/balloons unpopping thing, ostensibly to prove that he really did learn the song backwards, but really, I suspect, because it makes for a great visual accompaniment to this chap doing his backwards singing thing, which he does very well. Link (via Digg)


  1. Here’s a time bound activity challenge: Spend some time tomorrow building a list of non-time bound activities. Good luck.

  2. This reminds me of a story I read as a child:

    One day, a man comes to the Sultan’s court, and announces that after years of painstaking work, he has mastered a wonderful trick so the Sultan asks him to demonstrate his trick. He takes out a needle from his pocket, gives it to a courtier to hold, then positions himself a few meters away, takes a long thread in his hand and, aiming carefully, throws and threads it through the eye of the needle.

    The Sultan orders his Vizier to give the man 40 sacks of gold for mastering this amazing trick. Then he orders his executioner to give him 40 lashes for wasting his years on something so useless.

    Sometimes I wonder if the internetz breeds these people or does it just make Sultans of us.

  3. That truly is amazing.

    My friends did something similar a while back:

    I doubt they were the first…but I still get a kick out of it.


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  4. In the Zucker-Abrams-Zucker movie “Top Secret!” there’s a scene in a “Swedish bookstore” that’s shot entirely in reverse and uses all kinds of visual gags, like tossing books into their slots on a high shelf, blowing a layer of dust back onto a book, etc.

    I figured that the tune was the Anacreonic song before the midpoint, and that he was most likely singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” since nobody knows “Anacreon in Heaven” anymore.

    One way to sing or speak backward is to spell the words out using the phonetic alphabet, then write the words in reverse and memorize them. It’s not perfect, as some sounds just can’t be done backward, but it comes close.

  5. The easiest way to memorize it is to just record yourself singing/saying it, then reverse it and memorize how it sounds reversed. I still can say my name backwards from playing with my tape deck years ago.

  6. I liked enjoyed the song and the video. Good work guys. Its not what you do that matters, it’s how you do it.
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  7. it is fairly simple these days to record your voice and then play it backwards. Back in film school (30 years ago) I did something similar with actors learning short sentences (mostly just 2 words) which they recited backwards with the proper “attacks” and “decays” of speech reversed as well (not just reciting the words backward phonetically…)

    It was a little harder with a 16mm camera though, we had to mount the camera upside down because in order to reverse the film, it meant once processed we had to flip the film end to end, which made it upside down. So we had to film everything backwards AND upside down!
    The film instructor stopped by while we were filming and he could not figure out why the camera was upside down and strapped to the tripod with Duck Tape.

  8. Sometimes I wonder if the internetz breeds these people or does it just make Sultans of us

    Six billion people in the world and growing. More and more of us are utterly superfluous by the day.

    It’s liberating, really.

  9. this reminds me of the pharcyde/spike jonze video from a while back:

    they had to learn to lip synch backwards, so i guess its not quite the same as actually singing it, but still damn impressive

  10. the Beatles were accused of backwards masking, satanic messages on REvolution 9 and there is backwards singing on RAIN and Tomorrow Never Knows.

    the Monkees HEAD movie has a few backwards segments

    Ernie Kovacvs did some backwards things as well as Norman McLaren, sound and moving image manipulaton goes back a long time in history. Youtube did not just invent this. but this is fun and now with so many video cameras around people can really expriement

  11. This highlights the fact that national anthems (or analogous ethnic cleansing songs) all sound alike – smarmy and ponderous. I was thinking that it was ‘Advance Australia Fair’.

  12. re: threading needle, my son told me that in Seattle you haven’t had enough coffee unless you can thread the needle of a running sewing machine.

    re: the video – one mistake is that at the grand finale, the balloons are reconstructed in the following order: blue, white, and red. Less stirring, but perhaps analagous to the distress signal involved in flying old glory upside down. Anyone else feeling any distress?

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