The Grand Rapids Lip Dub: A Giant Street Party Set To Music More than a thousand people in Grand Rapids, Mich., turned out to participate in a massive music video to promote the town. It's gotten a million views in only a few days, and some high-profile support.

The Grand Rapids Lip Dub: A Giant Street Party Set To Music

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.


And I'm Robert Siegel.


NORRIS: As Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reports, the people of Grand Rapids have put together a remarkable music video set to "American Pie," and it's getting rave reviews.

LINDSEY SMITH: So what can you do to refute that your city isn't really dying? Here's what these guys in Grand Rapids did.

NORRIS: If you're a featured extra or a featured character, stay where you are. Otherwise, I need extras in Rosa Parks Circle, thank you.


JOE PIESZ: Hi, my name's Joe Piesz.

PAUL LONGUSKI: I'm Paul Longuski. We're definitely trying to get used to how fast we have to go to keep up with the camera today.

SMITH: The hard part is shooting a video of them lip-syncing the song in a continuous shot: one take, no edits. It's kind of the holy grail of videos, and it's not easy.

NICK LAVEL: I'm Nick Lavel. We're all a part of the crew. And it's our job to manage and organize our separate event areas. We have a section with the fire department, a section with pillow-fighters, a section with zombie fighters. All of these different events need to be organized across Grand Rapids.

SMITH: There's also a section of the lip dub with kayakers, Nerf-gun shooters, marching bands, explosions, even a helicopter take-off.

GEORGE HEARTWELL: Unidentified Woman #1: (Unintelligible).

HEARTWELL: (Singing) Oh, and there we were all in one place, a generation lost in space, with no time left to start again.


HEARTWELL: Fortunately this is a lip-dub, and Don Mclean will be singing it instead of us.


SMITH: Heartwell has been railing on Newsweek ever since it published the dying cities list. Here he is in his State of the City speech.

HEARTWELL: Just last July, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce awarded Grand Rapids its Siemens Award for the most sustainable midsized city in America. Now, put that in your pipe, Newsweek, and smoke it.


SMITH: Grand Rapids' population did decline over the past 10 years, by about two percent. But the lip dub video's director Rob Bliss says that certainly doesn't mean Grand Rapids is dying, though in making his point, he insults another Michigan city.

ROB BLISS: Its culture is growing so rapidly that I think that's what just surprised people. I mean, I think Flint was like, nine or something like that. So to think we're just like a step away from Flint just I think was ridiculous.

SMITH: For NPR News, I'm Lindsey Smith in Grand Rapids.

SIEGEL: And you can see the Grand Rapids lip dub video at

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