|“||Hey guys, it's me Miranda!||”|
―Miranda Sings' intro
Miranda Sings is a character created in 2008 by Colleen Ballinger (born: November 21, 1986 ), who is an American actress and comedian. The character was "born on 24th December of 2000, (2000 years after Jesus) one day before Jesus", a quote from Selp-Helf, her book.
In Miranda's videos, the character sings badly, discusses current events that she often misunderstands, gives "tutorials" and rants about her critics, the "haters", or as Miranda calls them, hatresses. Miranda once had a second YouTube channel, mirandavlogz, which she later decided to stop using.
Colleen, Miranda's portrayer, has a YouTube channel of her own which is called Colleen Ballinger (formerly PsychoSoprano).
Miranda was created as a satire of the many bad but egotistical singers who believe that posting their videos on YouTube will lead to them breaking into show business, ignoring the realistic or cruel comments of "haters" regarding their videos.
When the character first began posting videos, much of the audience believed she was an actual person.
In 2009, in addition to her internet videos, Miranda regularly performed cabaret acts at cabaret spaces and theaters in New York, London, and other cities in the U.S., Canada, Australia and elsewhere.
Her acts include signature off-key singing of pop music hits, with introductions focusing on the her backstory and full of malapropisms and spoonerisms; the acts often incorporate giving a "voice lesson" to, and singing a duet with, Broadway or other musical celebrities, reading "hate mail", and singing while being stabbed through the neck in her "magic act". Miranda also appeared in a 2012 episode of the TV show Victorious. On April 7, 2014, the MirandaSings08 account hit 1,000,000 subscribers.
"Miranda" is supposedly a home-schooled woman in her twenties who lives with her mother and uncle in Tacoma, Washington. She also supposedly lives with her father but she describes him as boring, so she doesn't talk about him.
On the videos, the Miranda character sings in a comically off-key, yet plausible, voice and covers show tunes and pop music hits, with introductions focusing on the her backstory. She uses spoonerisms and malapropisms, is ludicrously self-absorbed and has a sassy, arrogant attitude. The Times describes her as "self-obsessed and immune to criticism". She responds to viewers who take the videos seriously with the catchphrase, "Haters back off!",telling these critics that they are "just jealous" and that "haters make me famous".
She often displays facial traits such as unusually active eyebrows and a crooked smile. Her head is cocked to one side, and her pronunciation quirks include an emphasis on "m" and "b" sounds and the use of a prominent hard 'g' (in such words as 'singing' and 'song'). In place of lyrics that she cannot remember, she "scat" sings. She wears lipstick drawn beyond the borders of her lips, dresses in mismatched out-of-style clothing (such as a men's shirt buttoned to the neck with red sweatpants), and often dances stiffly to the music she is performing. Miranda's views of society and morality are politically incorrect, and she displays a strong aversion to anything risque, which she calls "porn".
Beginning in April 2009, in addition to her internet videos, Miranda Sings has also performed her cabaret acts at sold-out cabaret spaces and theatres in Atlanta, New York, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and other cities in the U.S., as well as Dublin, cities in Australia, Canada, Norway and elsewhere. BroadwayWorld.com called her "the hottest, freshest and oddest breakout star in the musical theatre/cabaret scene".
In the cabaret acts, Miranda typically sings several songs from the musical theatre repertoire as well as some current popular songs in her signature off-key style; gives "voice lessons" or acting lessons to Broadway or West End stars, such as Sutton Foster, Andrew Rannells, and Shoshana Bean, to the Broadway casts of shows such as Billy Elliot (to which cast she also gave dance and acting "lessons") and Rock of Ages, and to pop stars such as Ariana Grande, in which she is hypercritical of the stars' performances, often telling them that they should leave show-business; signs one or more duets with established (and bemused) musical theatre singers, indignantly reads hate mail (bleeping out any profanity) that she has received on her YouTube channel and other social media; and sometimes improvises a song based on audience suggestions.
Sometimes an act has an autobiographical theme, in which Miranda tells her life story. In her holiday act, in addition to some of the above, Miranda has recreated the Christmas story "complete with the Three Kings, the Drummer Boy, and Santa Claus, as well as a shockingly dissonant 'Carol of the Bells'" and other Christmas songs.
Miranda has stated that she plans to perform the role of Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway. During 2009, she often stated that she planned to date Cheyenne Jackson (whom she does not realize is openly gay) or to find another boyfriend, but he must be talented and famous. She was photographed and videotaped together with Jackson at Broadway on Broadway 2009, confronting him about their "relationship", and finally receiving a "first kiss" from him.
In 2010, she stated in her videos and cabaret acts that Jackson is no longer her boyfriend (because he never called her for a date), and so she was seeking a new, famous, talented, handsome boyfriend, such as Zac Efron or Justin Bieber. In July 2013, Miranda began "dating" Amazing Race competitor and YouTube host Joey Graceffa, whose last name she cannot pronounce.
Miranda proclaimed that she is not just a "triple threat" entertainer, but a "four threat", because she is also a model. Since 2010, she has asserted that she is a "five threat" talent, adding "magic" to her list of skills, in videos and performances where she combines inept magic tricks with singing.
A regular part of her cabaret acts since then includes a magic trick where Miranda sings while appearing to be stabbed through the neck by a sword, sometimes by her magician "helper", Christopher Ballinger, claiming that she sings better when the sword is inserted through her neck. Miranda's May 2012 Birdland cabaret act was filmed by Seth Rudetsky and appears on his site www.SethTV.com.
As her popularity increased, Miranda has been able to book longer runs of her cabaret acts, at larger and larger venues, including a six-performance run in 2013 at the Leicester Square Theatre in London and seven sold out performances in Australia. A London reviewer commented:
"Miranda [is] hilarious, and I was struck on several occasions by what an accomplished creation the character is – with her own vocabulary, idiosyncrasies and bizarre (not to mention increasingly sinister) backstory, you've never seen anything like her, and the commitment with which Ballinger embodies this strange, strange girl is nothing short of admirable. Bridging both personas, the moment she transforms into Miranda, on-stage and mid-song, is an absolute joy – I'd struggle to recall hearing an audience erupt to such an extent, and I couldn't help but join in."
In 2009, the cast of Mamma Mia! invited Miranda to perform with them at the 2009 Broadway Easter Bonnet competition. In December of that year, Miranda released a Christmas EP entitled "Christmas With Miranda Sings". In 2010, she appeared at the Nightlife Awards, and Miranda was a presenter at the CYT Directors' Choice Awards in La Mesa, California. Later that year, at the Rose Center Theater, Miranda co-hosted a benefit concert, "Broadway Memories" (which included the Sutton Foster "voice lesson"), for the Alzheimer's Association and the Capistrano Center for the Performing Arts. Also, from 2010 to 2012, Miranda also posted 86 video blogs to a second YouTube channel, Mirandavlogz, discussing various topics or giving tutorials, but ended up posting all of the videos on the Mirandasings08 channel. Miranda sings two tracks on the 2011 album Self Taught, Still Learning, by Chris Passey. She also appeared in a comedy film, Varla Jean and the Mushroomheads. In 2012, Miranda Sings was one of the headliners at the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, presented by WaterTower Theater in Addison, Texas.
Miranda Sings appeared in a Season 3 episode of the television show Victorious, a one-hour special titled "Tori Goes Platinum", which was first broadcast on May 19, 2012 on the Nickelodeon channel. In the episode, Miranda is one of the auditionees for an awards show, singing "Freak the Freak Out”. In July 2012, Miranda gave a "master class" at the Boston Children's Theatre. She appeared in episode 6 of Dr. Fubalous, a 2012 web series that featured Miranda as nurse Royal Bobbin in a cast that included Danny Trejo and Flava Flav. She also appeared in the first episode of Dance Chat, an Australian web show, in 2013.
In August 2012, Miranda announced, in a YouTube vlog, that she was running for President of the U.S. to offer an alternative to the two candidates nominated by the major parties. She offered a brief analysis of the presidential race in the video. In an October vlog, she laid out her campaign platform.
Genesis Of The Character
Miranda's creator, Colleen Ballinger, based the character partly on young women that she knew in the performance department of her college, Azusa Pacific University. She told The Times of London, "There were a lot of cocky girls who thought they were really talented, and they weren't. They were so rude and snotty, it drove me nuts. Then I saw all these girls trying to make a career out of putting videos on YouTube ... clueless to the fact that they were terrible. The characters were so ridiculous, I wanted to make one of my own." At first, the "Miranda videos were meant to be an inside joke" among Ballinger's friends. Ballinger's YouTube channel received little traffic for more than a year; but in March 2009, she uploaded a video called "Free Voice Lesson" that quickly became a sensation. The video consists of advice to use, and demonstrations of, techniques that real voice teachers would warn students to avoid. As the videos on her channel became popular, Ballinger modified the character to draw negative comments on YouTube: "People would make fun of my hair, and I made it worse. ... I took what people hated and exaggerated it more in the next video. Since her first video, Miranda now has a far more exaggerated personality than before. In earlier videos, the character was far more disguised and easier to believe. But more recently, Miranda has become more obviously an act, exaggerating her singing voice, lipstick, etc., and by collaborating with several other YouTubers.
After Miranda videos first went viral, Ballinger was not sure what to do with her newfound internet fame. She arranged her own appearances and publicity for the first nine months but realized that she needed a professional manager. Ballinger notes, "I went from making a minute-and-a-half video in my bedroom to doing an hour-and-a-half live show". Ballinger's first live performance as Miranda took place in April 2009 when Jim Caruso invited her to perform as the character at Cast Party, a weekly show at Birdland jazz club in New York City. Members of the Broadway theatre community quickly became fans of the character and were eager to be a part of Miranda's cabaret acts, and Ballinger has made a living ever since by performing her cabaret acts in character as Miranda. An example of the Broadway community's embrace of the character is the composer Lin-Manuel Miranda's 2010 mock audition video with Miranda. In addition to cabaret performances, Ballinger has sometimes performed as the character at theatre venues, such as London's Leicester Square Theatre, where she taught "voice lessons" to, and performed with, London-based theatre stars, including Leanne Jones, Scarlett Strallen, Daniel Boys, Julie Atherton, Ian ‘H’ Watkins, Anna-Jane Casey, Jon Lee and Noel Sullivan. Since the summer of 2009, Miranda Sings has also been featured in radio and television interviews where the broadcasters play along with the character.
The Miranda character receives hate mail from viewers who are fooled by the character and believe that they are watching a serious video by a bad entertainer. Ballinger told Back Stage, "It's sort of like an Andy Kaufman thing. You wouldn't believe the hate mail. ... You would never say that stuff to someone's face, but you can type anything online." TheaterJones noted, "perhaps because the Internet is some crazy postmodern distortion of reality, people ... felt it was their duty to point out how woefully untalented [Miranda] was, in the most horrific ways. ... Her hate mail, which she reads some of on stage, is an art form all its own." These critics are so harsh that Miranda has become a "hero of the anti-bullying movement". The Times commented, "there is another, sweeter side to her travails. Miranda loves singing and, despite – or perhaps because of – the satire, becomes an evocation of something all humans love to do and have done since before we discovered language. The very act of singing, however dire the sound, makes us feel good." In 2010, Ballinger submitted an audition to the TV show Glee "in character" as Miranda. She noted that Glee is causing a resurgence of interest in singing in schools: "Everyone is talking about Glee and choirs and musical theatre, igniting a flame that has been dimmed for a long time. ... Live performance and musical theatre were almost a lost art ... people need to be reminded that it takes a lot more effort to sing than just watching movies or TV shows." Miranda agrees: "Since I became so famous ... everyone is watching more music and singing more – because everyone wants to be more like me." As the Miranda character has matured, its popularity has especially grown with younger audiences of the Glee generation, with most of those attending her concerts being teenagers or 20-somethings.
Ballinger told the Wall Street Journal that "I have to do things like torture myself to keep people watching" her YouTube videos. To this end, she took the cinnamon challenge in character as Miranda in February 2012 after hundreds of fans started asking her to take the challenge. Her video garnered 70,000 views after one week and later accumulated more than 1 million views.
Since early 2009, Ballinger's character has enjoyed widespread popularity, particularly among musical theatre fans. Her cabaret acts have been in demand at live clubs and theaters in New York (Birdland Jazz Club, Minskoff Theatre, The Town Hall,San Francisco (The Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko), London (Ambassadors Theatre; Leicester Square Theatre), Australia (selling out every performance in her 2013 tour) and elsewhere, particularly at venues where her many teenage fans are admitted.
In 2009, the Los Angeles Times wrote of her videos, "this footage is a major hoot", and BroadwayWorld.com described Ballinger as an "Internet Superstar." The Times of London commented that although Miranda's videos have made her "a darling of the Broadway musical-theatre scene and an international cabaret star ... [it] is not online but on stage that Miranda truly comes to ghastly life." In 2010, the Broadway World review of Miranda's cabaret act in Los Angeles said: "Colleen Ballinger 'Miranda Sings' persona is a very unique and original concept devised by a very creative imagination. ... Miranda is not to be missed. [As] the old saying goes, it takes talent to be that bad”. TheaterJones similarly concluded: "Ballinger has hit on a character that reflects the zeitgeist of our time and does it with tongue firmly planted in cheek." Woman Around Town called Miranda "an atrocious, comedic masterpiece." A 2013 BroadwayWorld feature commented, "While [Miranda's] singing might not be anywhere near pitch-perfect, the character's comedic lampooning of self-aggrandizing divas surely is. Only a truly talented performer could make the Miranda character believable, let alone as endearing as she ends up being." AussieTheatre.com stated: "Miranda ... creates the most successful parody of the world of YouTube ... she has created an international cult following".
The Miranda videos have received a total of more than 80 million upload views, and the two Miranda channels, combined, have more than 5 million subscribers. Miranda Sings' parody cover of Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" has received over 30 million views, her cover of Katy Perry's "California Gurls" video has received more than 3 million total views on YouTube, her parody of "Starships" has over 2.9 million views, her version of "Sexy and I Know It" has received more than 1.8 million hits, and six other videos on the Miranda channels have each received more than one million views. More than 40 of her videos have each received over 500,000 views, including her first viral video, "Free voice lesson". More than 200 of the videos on the Miranda channels have received over 100,000 hits. The character is widely parodied on YouTube, where a parody video has received over 5 million hits.
YouTuber Adam Mcintyre made a video called, "colleen ballinger, stop lying." In the video, Adam talks about how Colleen talked to him about her divorce, how he got sent lingerie, and how she blamed him for a tweet that she posted. Collen has gotten a lot of backlash because of it.
Note: The following dates are according to
- 1 million subscribers: April 5, 2014
- 2 million subscribers: August 29, 2014
- 3 million subscribers: January 2, 2015
- 4 million subscribers: May 20, 2015
- 5 million subscribers: September 19, 2015
- 6 million subscribers: February 23, 2016
- 7 million subscribers: October 9, 2016
- 8 million subscribers: August 4, 2017
- 9 million subscribers: June 30, 2018
- 10 million subscribers: December 6, 2018