Santeri Ojala, Finnish Master of Guitar Comedy!

Warning: guitarist worshippers who hate parody should not read this article!

As a guitarist, I occasionally like to watch videos of the greats seen on YouTube and elsewhere. It’s fun to see what others are doing to get ideas while being amazed. In rock, it’s very important to have Attitude, of course. Without it, you’ll be viewed as a loser no matter how well you play.

Of course, some players take this just a little too seriously, and some fans, too. Finland’s Santeri Ojala, took note of this, and had the brainstorm of taking videos of these famous guitarists and dubbing his own sound over them. The results are astoundingly good. By the time I had watched a couple of them, I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe.

And some of the commentary is entirely predictable, such as the people who are shocked, shocked that someone might besmirch the image of their perfect idols. I had thought that part of the spirit of rock was about cutting loose, going wild, doing something a little crazy, maybe even having some fun and laughs. But Nonsense! It’s actually supposed to be very serious and an object of worship.

I would guess that most of the top players would actually find it humorous – after all, who doesn’t have a little schadenfreude, (even if that word is nowhere near being in their vocabulary) especially towards one’s competitors? But, sadly, some of them are just as humorless.

Some of Santeri’s subjects have already taken legal action to have the videos pulled. It’s no real surprise that Yngwie Malmsteen, one of the most pompous musicians on the planet, was right in line to be one of the pullers. And pull, he did. As they said about Jaco years ago, at least he can back most of it up. And his hair is just SO pretty. I’m sorry to see his one go – it was vastly superior to the original performance, especially the ingenious use of quotes. Other guitarists entering the Hall of Humorless Shame by pulling their videos: Jake E. Lee, Metallica, the aforementioned Slash, and Eddie Van Halen. Actually, the Van Halen wasn’t as funny, as Santeri played almost too well on that one.

Curiously, as of this writing, one Steve Vai video was pulled, and one was not. Word on the street was that Vai supposedly enjoyed the parody. This lends some credence to the idea that in some cases, legal eagles may have been doing the pulling. And pull, they did. Maybe the pulled video contained copyrighted material from an album, whereas the other one was a sort of freeform, possibly non-published piece.

Some highlights:

  • The Tortured Guitarist Faces, normally delivered at blistering volume with the crowd going wild, but in this case in almost complete silence, with very quiet guitar tones, nonsensical guitar twangings, and maybe 5 people politely applauding in an audience of hundreds.
  • Ojala’s uncanny ability to synchronize his deliberately tuneless licks to his subjects. Ironically, it takes a good deal of guitar skill to do this so well – your average Guitar Hero user would not be funny at all.
  • Sudden appearances of unbelievably hokey quotes.
  • Utterly random, arhythmic drum and keyboard fills using the cheapest sounds.
  • The more you’re familiar with the person’s music, the funnier it is. For me, it was Paco De Lucia(!) and Santana. Clapton is also great.

Jimmy Kimmel, always on the lookout for young talent, got involved and brought Santeri onto his show. It was Ojala’s first trip to the States, and he said that he had learned some of his very good English by watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? Slash, one of Ojala’s subjects, was also on the show. Santeri did his Slash schtick live on the show. Slash couldn’t resist butting in at the end to play his oh, SO impressive big rock licks, drowning Santeri out at a volume of 11, seemingly saying, see, loser, you are SO not as hot as I am! What a Big Strong Man! To Slash’s credit, at least he shook Santeri’s hand and was more or less cordial.

So you’re wondering, where do I get this? Just follow these links, quickly, before they’re permanently quashed:

Several of the videos on MySpace after being pulled from YouTube

To see all of them, even ones that were quashed elsewhere on Wired.com.

My congratulations to Santeri, who has made the Videos of the Year as far as I’m concerned! There’s no way I’ll be watching any other guitar videos as much as his. Brother, you have a friend in the US!

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