MTV Video Music Awards
LMFAO: The Billboard Cover Story
The video plot: After a few weeks in a coma, a duo, wearing pristine bedazzled jackets and Dalmatian-print leggings, emerges to find the world in chaos.
In this case, though, the afflicted aren't compelled by a virus to devour human brains. They're spurred to dance uncontrollably by the song, propelled by its rave-ready synth squelches and interminable hook. Clad in matching, sequined attire -- crafted by LMFAO's in-house clothier, Party Rock (partyrockclothing.com) -- the entire world has transformed into voracious dance zombies, motivated by the desire to "have a good time" and "lose your mind." LMFAO -- the Los Angeles duo of DJs RedFoo (Stefan Kendal Gordy) and Sky Blu (Skyler Husten Gordy) -- known for its high-octane serenades, and, basically, for going bananas, based the colorful video for their "Party Rock Anthem" on 2002's "28 Days Later" and any number of other de rigueur zombie flicks. RedFoo and Sky Blu are the son and grandson, respectively, of Motown record label founder Berry Gordy. They are uncle and nephew.
And, as it turns out, the virus analogy wasn't off-point.
It only stands to reason, then, that a group known around the globe for inspiring parties has its own personal positive motivator -- namely, "The Secret," Rhonda Byrne's best-selling, Oprah-approved self-help book based on the law of attraction. "I'm so into it. I mean, I can probably write my own book at this point. Everything that I imagined since I've been doing 'The Secret' has basically come true," RedFoo says. "I've trained myself to only think about what I want, and when you do that, something happens and you just get the energy to do whatever it takes [to get] what you want. I'd been writing it down, and telling everyone that. They knew the goal was to be No. 1, to be the biggest band in the world."
Yet creative visualization was only part of its current success, and while LMFAO's amplified party lust defines its music, it doesn't totally define the duo's lifestyle. By all accounts, Foo and Blu are hard workers, from their current 31-day U.S. tour with Ke$ha, down to one of the best songs off "Sorry for Party Rocking", "Hot Dog," in which RedFoo apologizes to his trainer for taking a day off and eating, yes, a hot dog. "It's all about what's going to get us to the top," he says.
"We created our life, we envisioned it. We wanted to be on top of the Billboard charts, we wanted to be touring around the world playing for sold-out shows. The energy we have onstage is representative of that. Every show is different but it's all the same energy. It feels great to be able to put the mic out and 40,000 people all sing the lyrics back at you," Sky Blu says.
Indeed, LMFAO fans are a tight and dedicated army. The act's 213,000-plus Twitter followers emulate its wild, animal print uniforms, perhaps to their parents' chagrin. They flock to RedFoo's post-show DJ gigs and embrace party rocking as a lifestyle. LMFAO was able to cue into its younger fan base in part thanks to its collaborations with Audiobot, a 19-year-old producer and fan who linked with the act through SoundCloud and ended up helping with "Sorry for Party Rocking". "This record is more global and more popular because it has the mind of a 19-year-old kid that goes to raves every week," RedFoo says. "That, with GoonRock, it has melodies; he loves singing songs and loves R&B."
Martin Kierszenbaum, chairman of Cherrytree Records and the A&R rep who, with Will.i.am and Neil Jacobson, initially signed LMFAO in 2008, puts it more succinctly. "LMFAO has a great barometer for what's happening culturally," he says. "These guys have a really well-honed radar -- they put their antennas up, and when they applied what they learned to their skill and talent, it elevated their songwriting. They connected with the zeitgeist."
Now, it seems, LMFAO is poised to create the zeitgeist. After the Ke$ha tour subsides, the pair will launch its own global headlining tour, and it has a slew of licensing deals on the table, including the genius placement of "Hot Dog" in ESPN's coverage of Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. Collaborations are on deck with Ke$ha mastermind Dr. Luke, while GoonRock is working on his first producer's album. He's also in the studio with, ironically, Flo Rida. "We're all friends and family; part of Sky's crew is his mother and his girlfriend," RedFoo says. "Part of my crew is my mother, and all the girls I've ever dated." Berry Gordy is supportive as well. "My dad said that when we jumped to No. 1 on Billboard," RedFoo says, "the person that was No. 1 went to No. 2 with a bullet."
Manager Fletcher thinks this is only the beginning. "The consensus is that "Sorry for Party Rocking" has five singles. That's superstar mentality. Like a Katy Perry," he says. "Some people get one or two singles and they're on to the next. The label feels we have five." Neighbors be damned -- this party isn't likely to end soon.
Julianne Escobedo Shepherd (@jawnita) is culture editor of Alternet.org and former executive editor of the Fader.