You have to watch the latest music video featuring a song from indie rock band Walk the Moon. But you don't necessarily need to listen.
AT&T and the Deaf Professional Arts Network worked with American Music Award-nominated Walk the Moon to create a special music video for the band's latest song, "Different Colors." It features performers dancing and rhythmically signing the lyrics of the song, enabling the deaf and hard of hearing to appreciate the clip.
Though the deaf and hard of hearing community has long produced music videos using American Sign Language, this is the first involving a large corporate sponsor and a high-profile band, whose push on social media could raise awareness of the art form. AT&T, the nation's second-largest wireless carrier, spearheaded the project as part of its "Feel the Music" social outreach campaign, and the effort builds on the company's work in developing technology and services for people with disabilities. The campaign runs through the end of the year.
"It means everything to me," said Sean Forbes, co-founder of the Deaf Professional Arts Network (D-PAN) and one of the organizers of the project. "It shows there are people out there who believe in what we're doing."
For the music video, titled "Subway Serenade," AT&T initially wanted to use Walk the Moon's chart-topping hit "Shut Up and Dance" but the band felt the lyrics of "Different Colors" were a better fit, according to Nicholas Petricca, the group's frontman.
The song involves "the importance of celebrating each other's differences," Petricca said in an interview last month. It addresses "any part of this world that is diverse and sometimes struggles to be treated with a sense of normalcy."
AT&T worked with D-PAN to get a deaf director, Jules Dameron, and an all-deaf cast for the video, which starts off with an overprotective mother escorting her daughter onto a crowded subway. What erupts next is an explosion of dancing, signing and, yes, music meant to appeal to all viewers, deaf or not.
"We wanted to make sure we captured the emotion of the (deaf and hard of hearing) community when people sign to music," Laura Hernandez, executive director of marketing management for AT&T, said in an interview last month.
The nearly four-minute video is shot in a single continuous take, which took three days of rehearsals to prepare for.
"To shoot something in one take and perform to [a song] is difficult for even hearing people," Forbes said.
Hernandez called it a "hero video" to show people what a song that used American Sign Language would look like. The video is available on YouTube, AT&T's Feel the Music site and is featured on D-PAN's site. The band has also shared the video on Twitter.
Walk the Moon was so moved by the video that it's talking with D-PAN about potentially featuring signers on stage at its concerts, Petricca said. He and his bandmates are also learning to sign the key lyrics of the song.
The video has garnered nearly 40,000 hits on YouTube since it was posted in late September. It's the marquee part of the AT&T campaign. People can submit their own music videos signing the lyrics to "Different Colors," and a winner will win a trip to a Walk the Moon concert in December.
AT&T doesn't have plans to expand this project to other songs or artists, but "never say never," Hernandez remarked. "We are quite pleased with the success of this campaign."
The music video hits its zenith when the daughter gets up and joins the rest of the cast in signing "Different Colors" in front of her mother, and it concludes with the two embracing as the scene fades to white.
For the band, Petricca said, the message is "not only should people welcome or tolerate differences, they're to be celebrated."