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Feel Good Friday – Miley Cyrus and Bohemian Rhapsody

A theme that appears in these Feel Good Friday posts is that music has the potential to affect moods and help us feel good. This week’s Feel Good are the youtube videos of American Sign Language to pop music by Stephen Torrence. In the first video, I’m no fan of Miley Cyrus but I am a fan of Torrence and how he enlivens the song with his ASL interpretation. Don’t you want to meet this happy, lively guy?

Torrence’s facial expressions during the Bismillah section of “Bohemian Rhapsody” are just great.


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  • QueenofAllThings February 18, 2011, 7:10 am

    Well, I’m with you on Miley – “Party in the USA” has to be one of the worst songs written (with incredibly banal lyrics) – so thank goodness for “Bohemian Rhapsody”! Brilliant!

  • Chocobo February 18, 2011, 8:50 am

    I’m not that familiar with the lyrics of Miley Cyrus’ songs, but I AM familiar with Queen’s songs. It was fun to cycle the sound on and off on my computer to see how it would be for someone who is deaf (already knowing the lyrics, I could better follow his ASL movements). Pretty cool!

  • Aje February 18, 2011, 9:02 am

    I’ve been trying for at least two years to get enrolled into an ASL class. Closed doors due to conflicts have kept me from pursuing my dream… (I’m a language teacher… and many of us, after learning our second language eventually take a third. Most Spanish teachers take french as their 3rd… I really wanted to do something different.)
    This week I’ve been trying to decide what to do about it… whether to put it off for another year or pursue the dream. I have to decide today.
    I’m going to take this video as a sign to follow the dream! XD Yay inspirational friday!

  • kmc February 18, 2011, 9:05 am

    This is great, he does such a great job! I took a beginners ASL class in college and I remember the instructor emphasizing how important facial expressions are when you are signing. This guy does both so well!

  • Just Laura February 18, 2011, 9:10 am

    I love watching ASL music videos, but get irked sometimes with this song because of the interpretation of “butterflies.” Many of the YouTube signers will sign the literal form of butterflies, when in fact that may not be entirely appropriate. There aren’t actual butterflies flying anywhere, but that’s what the person is signing.
    The Bohemian Rhapsody one is new for me, and I think I’ll share that with my deaf friends.
    Thanks for showing some ASL love!

  • Shayna February 18, 2011, 9:13 am

    Oh I LOVE this! Go Stephen!

  • KarenK February 18, 2011, 9:24 am

    Oh my! Thanks so much for posting this. I love Bohemian Rhapsody and this dude definitely rocks.

  • 1st-Time Mommy February 18, 2011, 10:18 am

    :crush: I love this guy! I watched both videos in the office with my sound off, and could “hear” the song perfectly in my head from following his signing. (I know a wee bit of sign, from signing with my young son.) And now I suddenly like the song “Party in the USA”, because he made it look like so much fun! (As for why I knew the lyrics, it was on our store track back when I worked retail.)

  • Another Laura February 18, 2011, 11:03 am

    I love that even in signing, you just HAVE to head bang at a certain point in Bohemian Rhapsody!

  • Hillary February 18, 2011, 12:01 pm

    Love it!

  • LMVattimo February 18, 2011, 2:08 pm

    If you watch the official music video for “Crash and Burn” toward the end they start signing the refrain. It’s pretty awesome.

  • Just Laura February 18, 2011, 5:42 pm

    Here’s one that one of my deaf friends sent to me that he thinks is a better ASL interpretation of a pop song (b/c of course I shared this thread with them)… I believe the hot guy signing it is actually deaf.

    Bruno Mars, “Just the Way You Are.”

    The same guy signs the “Firework” song by Katy Perry, and for the rest of you who know ASL, you’ll notice he uses other words to convey meaning, rather than the literal word used in the songs.

  • kero February 18, 2011, 6:02 pm

    Great vids!
    Yes, I do want to meet this happy, lively guy…and get his number too! <3

  • SoCalVal February 18, 2011, 8:17 pm

    Many years ago, I was in the ASL interpreter program, and one of the classes was this sorta freeform class that one of our program instructors created to help us with being expressive without using written language (that instructor had been a theater major in college). Can’t remember the name of the class, but I remember we had four projects to do — one of which was to tell a story just through our motions (i.e., someone simulated doing laundry so we were able to figure it out by watching her). The final one (which I didn’t do) was to select an instrumental song and tell a story with it using ASL and classifiers (signs that don’t have a specific meaning, like using one’s hand on the side with the 3-symbol to signify a car). Every year when we would have Silent Weekend up in the mountains, the program instructors and ASL club held a talent show, during which we would watch people perform songs in ASL, whether or not the songs had words (they usually did). Most of them were pretty good. One poor girl wasn’t, but I applaud her attempt. I think she didn’t get that the idea was to visually tell the story of the song, not literally interpret the words of the song (which is what she was doing). The school no longer does Silent Weekend, but I have fond memories of those talent shows. One woman’s performance was so moving that they asked her to perform it again right before the weekend ended (it was a Christmas song by Manheim Steamroller, and the story she told was of a boy and his mom — the boy growing up fascinated by the soldiers he saw then becoming one himself and getting killed in battle). Even I with my very limited ASL knowledge could easily follow the story she told; it was very well done.

  • LilyG February 19, 2011, 11:44 am

    I love Silent Weekends!

  • Sara February 20, 2011, 1:02 am

    I would like to recommend a finnish rap-artist to everyone, here’s Signmark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8YzAo2haKI

    This song was for Eurovision Song Contest, but unfortunately he wasn’t chosen for the Finnish representative.

  • Jes February 21, 2011, 2:38 pm

    I do like that sign language is becoming more popular. However, it does irk me that so many people post their videos online and title them as being “ASL” when they are not. Not all sign language is ASL. I think this guy is so cute, and I love his effort. But he’s not conceptually accurate. It’s not ASL.

  • Just Laura February 21, 2011, 3:28 pm

    Jes – glad someone else saw that. I kept trying to explain to my friends that he’s signing that there are literal butterflies flying away, which is inaccurate and silly.

  • Jall February 21, 2011, 5:17 pm

    I’ve never known my daughter to complain that somebody was speaking pure ASL, SEE, or just struggling to complete a sentence in fingerspelling. All she ever cared about was that somebody made the effort to speak the language.

    I think these videos — conceptually accurate or not — are priceless. The deaf people I know recognize them for what they are: an attempt to communicate, successful or not.

  • Jillybean February 21, 2011, 11:52 pm

    I love when he does the little “moving my hips like yeah…” in the Miley song.

  • Just Laura February 22, 2011, 10:24 am

    We don’t mean to put down a person trying to sign, or even say that these videos are wrong or somehow bad (of course they are not). We just prefer that if a video is labeled “ASL” it should actually be ASL. If it isn’t, it should be labeled “sign language” or another designation. We don’t want misinformation out there for people who are interesting in learning more about this complex language and culture.

  • ladycrim March 23, 2011, 3:50 pm

    A few months ago, I had the distinct pleasure of watching “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” get translated into ASL – including the audience callback lines! It’s amazing to see things like this.

  • Victoria April 5, 2011, 10:31 pm

    Oh wow, you found one of my favorite guys ever. Did you see his Owl City video with the song Fireflies? It looks like he’s dancing with his hands. Awesome.

  • Natashia January 30, 2013, 8:21 pm

    Am I the only one who thought, from the wording of the heading, that Miley Cyrus had done a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody? I think I wold have had a brain implosion if it’d been true. There are some songs you just don’t cover, unless you’re The Muppets or ‘Wierd’ Al of course.

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