Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

David Pogue Auto-Tunes Macworld

February 11, 2010: 3:16 PM ET

Who needs Steve Jobs when you can have the song-and-dance man of high-tech?

Pogue (right) interviews LeVar Burton. Photo: PED

David Pogue, Emmy-winning tech columnist, "Missing Manual" millionaire and Broadway composer manqué, pulled out all the stops as he kicked off the first day of Macworld Expo.

He sang (three of his favorite song parodies, see below). He cracked wise (mocking Steve Ballmer's exuberance, Steve Jobs' absence and the iPad's lack of Flash support). He plugged his latest book ("The World According to Twitter"). He interviewed celebrity guests (culminating with LeVar Burton of Star Trek, Roots and Reading Rainbow).

But the hit of "Late Night with David Pogue," as the 60-minute show was billed (although it began at 9 a.m. and ran for 90 minutes) was the four-person Brooklyn-based musical troupe behind the YouTube phenom known as Auto-Tune the News.

For those who haven't seen the video clips -- and it seems most of the Macworld audience hadn't -- we've pasted the one Pogue played below the fold.

The Auto-Tune troupe, with Burton, perform "It's a Wonderful Mac"

There are nine of these 3- to 5-minute political parodies online. They embellish real TV news footage with original singing, cheesy special effects and the proprietary technology, made famous by Cher and T-Pain, that corrects badly sung notes to the nearest even-tempered tone. They are clever, irreverent, make great use of Katie Couric and Joe Biden's unintentional singing voices, and have been viewed 40 million times.

Pogue flew the Auto-Tune team -- the Gregory brothers, Michael, Andrew and Evan, and Evan's wife Sarah -- out from Williamsburg, quizzed them about how they make their videos, and then invited them to perform in a parody of It's a Wonderful Life in which Burton, playing the role of a Black Steve Jobs who channels Jimmy Stewart, discovers what life would have been like if he had never founded Apple (AAPL).

There would have been, Pogue's play suggests, no Windows, Web or Wired magazine, and books like his would still be pasted up with hot wax.

Without further ado: David Pogue's opening bit as screaming Steve Ballmer (courtesy of Macitynet.it) and Auto-Tune the News #6. You can find all nine Auto-Tunes at schmoyoho, the Gregory brothers' website.

See also:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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