How (not) to sing great

The giant lipstick-ed mouth, the devil-may-care hair, the free-form dance moves. The voice that manages to be both breathy and pitchy at the same time — Miranda Sings is coming to Red Deer.

You can only be this bad if you know what you’re doing. Ignition Theatre has Colleen Ballinger as Miranda Sings for three days at the Matchbox

You can only be this bad if you know what you’re doing. Ignition Theatre has Colleen Ballinger as Miranda Sings for three days at the Matchbox

The giant lipstick-ed mouth, the devil-may-care hair, the free-form dance moves. The voice that manages to be both breathy and pitchy at the same time — Miranda Sings is coming to Red Deer.

Haters look out! YouTube sensation Miranda is taking a break from videotaping herself in her own bedroom while warbling Katy Perry’s California Gurls, Lady Gaga’s Poker Face and other pop songs.

She’s off on her first Canadian tour that stops Jan. 27 to 29 at The Matchbox, at the invitation of Ignition Theatre. This means Red Deer audiences are in for a special treat — a first-hand Miranda voice lesson.

The singer will instruct from The Matchbox stage on how to achieve the perfect vibrato (shake your head a lot), and how to hit those high notes (lift your eyebrows and your entire head as much as possible).

While no lesser authorities than college voice teachers have emailed Miranda, imploring her not to give the public blatantly wrong singing information that could, in fact, wreck voices, most people are now in on the joke.

Miranda is actually a spoofy online persona created by a classically trained 24-year-old singer named Colleen Ballinger in videos that have gone viral.

Ballinger, a Santa Barbara, Calif., native, said she was inspired to create her first Miranda video in December 2007 after watching one too many YouTube personalities (read teenagers) sing badly, but cockily, from their bedrooms.

There was one teen who Ballinger particularly aimed to emulate. “She was 16 and loved singing every day. She wasn’t any good, bless her, but she gave voice lessons to anyone who watched her . . . I just loved her!”

In the same brazen spirit of un-selfconscious determination, Ballinger abandoned her singing skills to become the appallingly untalented Miranda, an online star in her own mind — and the results were interesting, to say the least.

The videos she initially made to amuse friends began gaining a wider Internet audience. First Ballinger heard from a lot of “haters” who didn’t understand Miranda was a spoof.

They emailed telling her she sucked and that she should stop singing to put the world out of its misery.

By the time her YouTube hits went from a couple of hundred to 70,000 in April 2009, most viewers realized Miranda was a put-on personality — but they still loved hating her.

And Miranda enjoyed being hated because any attention is good attention, said Ballinger, who confessed that she purposely strives to make the persona as much of an overconfident train-wreck as possible.

“I didn’t want people pitying her. I wanted them to hate her because it makes for more hilarious emails.”

Just as Miranda reads bitchy viewer comments online and addresses them in her own jerky way, Ballinger has incorporated this schtick into her Miranda Sings stage act, which started after Miranda gained some Broadway fans.

One of them, cabaret singer Jim Caruso, encouraged Ballinger to come down and sing as Miranda at an open mic night called Cast Party that he runs at the Birdland jazz club in New York City.

Ballinger proved to be a hit in front of a live audience — and the rest is history. “That night was one of the biggest thrills of my life,” said Ballinger, who realized then and there that she could turn her alter-ego into a live stage show.

Miranda Sings has since toured Australia, the U.S. and Ireland.

The singer — who lets loose with her real trained singing voice at one point in Miranda Sings — lists her comic inspirations as Carol Burnett, Monty Python and satirical Christopher Guest movies, such as Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show. “They’re still my favourite movies of all time.”

While Ballinger has performed at Disneyland, as well as in professional musicals in California, and is now auditioning for Broadway productions, she said she won’t give up on Miranda — until the world does.

“I’ll do the cabaret for as long as there’s an audience for it.”

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. shows are $22 ($18 students) from The Matchbox box office or online from www.ignitiontheatre.ca

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com