Burning Up The Charts

Photo Courtesy of Brett Cohen

The latest single to ignite the charts, “Hotter Than Fire,” is nothing more than a scheme.

Brett Cohen, a fourth-year media management major, wanted to follow up his first viral video with a second parody he was passionate about.

Cohen said he knew he was not done with parodies after his first venture in July 2012 when he paraded around Times Square with bodyguards and a camera crew, tricking onlookers into believing he was a celebrity.

This time, Cohen said he wanted to show that anyone could create a popular song if they had the right people working with them. He contacted producers Steve Migliore and Mike Rizzo, better known as Mig and Rizzo who have worked with celebrities like Britney Spears, Usher and Taylor Swift.

Cohen said he wanted to poke fun at the industry when he penned the song “Hotter Than Fire” in about 20 minutes, telling producers he wanted it to sound like a compilation of clichés.

“It doesn’t matter what I’m talking about. It’s catchy,” Cohen said. “I’ll never do a song again. I’m not a singer. It’s very much a joke, a satire, a social commentary. It is a formula. It’s more about opening the eyes of the consumer.”

Recording the song, however, took more than seven hours. Cohen admitted it took a lot of work because he is a “terrible” singer.

“You have to at least sing it okay for the producers to make it work, even when using Auto-Tune, where they just hit a key and your voice changes to that exact note,” Cohen said.

To premiere the song and record audience reactions, Cohen and his crew headed to Bliss Lounge in Clifton, N.J. on Jan. 4. Though he was mentioned on the club’s normal distribution flyers, Cohen was not the opener and did not otherwise advertise. He didn’t perform until 1:30 a.m.

“The owners had no idea it was a joke,” Cohen said. “More than anything, we confused people. We had six bodyguards and two background dancers doing nothing.”

When the video premiered Jan. 29 at midnight, “Hotter Than Fire” was also released on iTunes and Amazon, just like any other single.

Cohen said having a product released under his name, satirical or not, gave him extra motivation to execute his prank correctly. His crew included six camera men, though the video only used three.

“It was a very good chance it wouldn’t come together — luckily, everything came out perfectly,” Cohen said.“You need to do what you do best and not hold back. [In the first video], if I didn’t have attitude, shoulders back — I usually walk around slumped over — if you go all out, it’s going to work.”

Cohen said his public relations classes with Professor Donna Flayhan were essential for tips on how to get his name out there and impact his public perception. Flayhan discussed Cohen’s first video in her Public Relations Publications class and discussed how he harnessed the viral elements in her classes.

“Like ‘Gangnam Style,’ Susan Boyle, Brett Cohen,
Dancing to ‘Thriller’ in Philippines prison — you have a familiar form with a new twist,” Flayhan said. “You have an authentic element. You have intense emotions.”