Student-made ‘Happy’ music video gains popularity, receives more than 20,000 views

Amidst dreary weather and the stressed atmosphere of finals week, several Syracuse University students took it upon themselves to make students on campus happy before leaving for winter break.

“Everyone was just so sad. You could see the campus was literally just dead,” said Karen Lopez, a junior economics major. “I thought that there had to be something I could do cheer up the people.”

To combat that gloomy feeling, Lopez directed a Syracuse-centric version of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” Lopez said she plays the song on her iPod when she is upset. So, during the weekend before finals, she recruited a group of friends to help spread that cheer across the SU campus.

Filming took place during finals week and was comprised of students who volunteered to dance in it. Released on Dec. 15, the video has since garnered more than 20,000 views on YouTube, and Pharrell even tweeted about the video, thanking everyone who participated.

“I would have been happy if three people watched the video and got happy,” Lopez said.

Pharrell’s video — the world’s first continuous 24-hour music video — is hosted on 24hoursofhappy.com, and features people uninhibitedly dancing around in places such as grocery stores and in the streets. Lopez brought that vibe to Syracuse in her video, with students dancing across E.S. Bird Library, Life Science Complex, and other buildings around campus.

“It was very spur-of-the-moment, but they gave me the headphone to listen to the music, and I improvised. It wasn’t choreographed at all,” said Danielle McCoy, a dancer in the video and a senior political science and African studies major. “The music just took over my body.”

To create the music video, Lopez said she assembled a team of people with a diverse background that she felt could bring the vision she had in mind to life. Included were four SU students: Erin Miller, Anthony Orendorff, Losa Amara Meru, and Setor Tsikudo.

Orendorff, a graduate television, radio and film major, said the project sounded different from anything else he’d ever been part of. He said he normally creates serious films, and this time he wanted to try something new. He added that he was inspired to see dancers expressing themselves and living in the moment, saying it was as if he was dancing with them while filming.

“Karen had a dope concept, and I just wanted to gain the experience and work with such a talented group of people,” Orendorff said.

While Orendorff felt immersed in the experience, others involved said the process was a bit awkward. Erin Miller, a sophomore advertising major, said she sometimes felt uncomfortable filming as people danced around without music, but in this case, she said that feeling was necessary to achieve the final product.

“But that’s what you have to do when you’re making something cool,” Miller said. “You’re going to put yourself into an awkward situation. I’m all about that.”

Students weren’t the only ones getting in on the action, as many faculty members also took part in the video. Pam Peter, the director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, said Lopez reached out to her to get as many people involved as possible.

In response, Peter convinced her friends and colleagues to join. She said it was something a lot of people wouldn’t have expected from them.

“Despite what people might think because of where I work, I like to have a good time,” Peter said. “If a student was passionate and wanted us to get involved in something fun, why would you say no?”

Members of the video team said they are going to do their best not to squander the collaborative energy they’ve cultivated with this project, and plan to make more videos in the future.


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