Miranda Sings is an Internet character created in 2008 by American comedian, actress and singer Colleen Ballinger. Ballinger displays videos of the comically talentless, egotistical and quirky character on her YouTube channel under the username mirandasings08. On these videos, the character sings badly and rants about her critics, the "haters". Ballinger also featured the character on a second YouTube channel, Mirandavlogz, where the character discusses a topic or gives a tutorial of the day. The two Miranda YouTube channels, together, have received more than 45 million total views.
Ballinger created the character 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. Beginning in 2009, in addition to her internet videos, Ballinger has frequently performed cabaret acts, in character as Miranda Sings, at cabaret spaces and theaters in New York, London, and other cities in the U.S., Australia and Canada. Her acts include Miranda's signature off-key singing of show tunes and pop music hits, and they often incorporate giving a "voice lesson" to, and singing a duet with, Broadway or local celebrities, reading hate mail directed to the character, and singing while being stabbed through the neck in her "magic act". The character appeared in a 2012 episode of the TV show Victorious.
Since January 2008, Ballinger has posted more than 150 videos, as the Miranda Sings character, on the YouTube channel mirandasings08. The character is a satire of increasingly common YouTube videos featuring mediocre or even bad, but egotistical, singers who film themselves singing as a form of self-promotion, and who ignore the realistic or cruel comments of "haters" regarding their videos. "Miranda" is supposedly a home-schooled woman in her twenties who lives with her mother and uncle in Tacoma, Washington. Ballinger has been able to turn the popularity of the Miranda videos into income from a percentage of advertising fees.
The Miranda character sings comically off-key, uses spoonerisms, is ludicrously self-absorbed and has a sassy attitude. The Times describes the character as "self-obsessed and immune to criticism". She responds to viewers who take the videos seriously with the catchphrase, "Haters back off!", telling her critics that they are "just jealous" and that "haters make me famous". The character 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, the character "scat" sings. She wears lipstick drawn beyond the borders of her lips, dresses in mismatched out-of-style clothing, and often dances stiffly to the music she is performing.
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 700,000 views.
Beginning in April 2009, in addition to her internet videos, Miranda Sings has also performed a cabaret act at sold-out cabaret spaces and theatres in Atlanta, New York, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and Dublin, and cities in Australia, Canada and elsewhere. BroadwayWorld.com called her "the hottest, freshest and oddest breakout star in the musical theatre/cabaret scene".
In her cabaret act, Miranda typically sings several songs from the musical theatre repertoire as well as some current popular songs; gives "voice lessons" to Broadway or West End stars, such as Sutton Foster, Andrew Rannells, and Shoshana Bean and to the Broadway casts of shows such as Bye Bye Birdie, Mamma Mia, Shrek, Billy Elliot (to which cast she also gave dance and acting "lessons") and Rock of Ages in which she is hypercritical of the stars' performances, often telling them that they should leave show-business; sings one or more duets with established musical theatre singers; indignantly reads hate mail that she has received on her YouTube channel; and sometimes improvises a song based on audience suggestions. In her holiday act, in addition to some of the above, Miranda recreates 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.
In her cabaret act, Miranda has stated that she plans to perform the role of Elphaba in Wicked. During 2009, as an ongoing part of her act, she also 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 is seeking a new, famous, talented, handsome boyfriend, such as Zac Efron or Justin Bieber.
Miranda says that she is not just a "triple threat" entertainer, but a "four threat", because she "is also a model". In October 2010 she asserted that she is a "five threat" talent, posting a video in which she performs magic in a comically inept way while singing. A regular part of her cabaret act since then includes a magic trick where Miranda sings while appearing to be stabbed through the neck by a sword, often by her magician brother, Christopher Ballinger. Miranda's May 2012 Birdland cabaret act was filmed by Seth Rudetsky and appears on his site www.SethTV.com.
In December 2009, Ballinger released a Christmas EP entitled "Christmas With Miranda Sings". She appeared as Miranda at the 2010 Nightlife Awards, and Miranda was a presenter at the CYT Directors' Choice Awards in La Mesa, California in August 2010. At the Rose Center Theater in October 2010, 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 in 2010, Ballinger established a YouTube video blog channel, Mirandavlogz, featuring Miranda "discussing" various topics or giving "tutorials". There are more than 75 videos on this channel. Miranda sings two tracks on the 2011 album Self Taught, Still Learning, by Chris Passey. In March 2012, Miranda Sings was one of the headliners at the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, presented by WaterTower Theatre 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, followed by a talk by Ballinger about how to use social media to promote yourself as a performer. The character appeared in episode 6 of Dr. Fubalous, a 2012 web series that featured Ballinger as nurse Royal Bobbin in a cast that included Danny Trejo and Flava Flav.
In August 2012, Miranda announced, in a YouTube vlog, that she is 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 is an absurdist compilation of advice that voice teachers would warn students to avoid. As the videos 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."
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, "The fact that I went from making a minute-and-a-half video in my bedroom to doing an hour-and-a-half live show is just crazy". 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 became fans of the character and were eager to be a part of Ballinger's cabaret act, and Ballinger has made a living ever since by performing her cabaret act in character as Miranda. The composer Lin-Manuel Miranda even made a mock audition video with Miranda. She has sometimes performed as the character at large venues. For example, she gave several performances at London's Leicester Square Theatre in May and June 2010 and again in September 2012, 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 April 2010, Ballinger submitted an audition to the TV show Glee "in character" as Miranda. She says that the show is causing a resurgence, in this couch potato age, 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."
Since early 2009, Ballinger's character has enjoyed widespread popularity, particularly among musical theatre fans, and her cabaret act has been in demand at live club and theater venues in New York (Birdland Jazz Club, Minskoff Theatre, The Town Hall), San Francisco (The Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko), Los Angeles and London (Ambassadors Theatre). She toured Australia in November 2009, Ireland in September 2010 and Alberta, Canada, in January 2011.
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, BroadwayWorld, reviewing Ballinger's cabaret act at The Magic Castle in Los Angeles, wrote: "Colleen Ballinger's '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. After all, it takes a lot of talent to be that bad." Woman Around Town called Miranda "an atrocious, comedic masterpiece."
Miranda Sings' parody of Katy Perry's "California Gurls" video has received more than 3 million total views on YouTube, her parody of "Sexy and I Know It" has received more than 1.8 million hits, and two of her other videos have each received more than one million hits. 24 of her videos have each received more than 500,000 views, including her first viral video, "Free voice lesson"; more than 100 of her videos have each received over 100,000 hits; and the two Miranda channels' videos have received a total of more than 45 million upload views.
- Born November 21, 1986 and raised in Santa Barbara, California, Ballinger attended San Marcos High School and graduated in 2008 from Azusa Pacific University. From 2007 to 2009, she performed for Disney in California and gave private voice and movement coaching and piano lessons to children. See also "Miranda Sings Visits Clevver TV". In 2009, she played Kelsi Nielson in High School Musical at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre in Claremont, California. Ballinger appears on the 2010 album More With Every Line by songwriter Tim Prottey-Jones. She is also heard on the 2011 album Self Taught, Still Learning by Chris Passey. She played Lynda Bird Johnson in a staged reading of First Kids in New York in June 2011, and in October 2011 she created the role of Circe Off-Broadway in the American Theatre of Actors production Odyssey – The Epic Musical. In summer 2012, she was featured as nurse Royal in the web series Dr. Fubalous. Ballinger's non-Miranda YouTube channel, Psychosoprano, has received more than 12 million views.
- Ng, David (May 11, 2009). "YouTube sensation Miranda seduces Broadway". Los Angeles Times.
- Eggar, Robin (May 2, 2010). "She'd like to teach the world to sing". The Times. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- "Meme Comes to Life". Transmedia Televisual Studies, FILM345, Queens University. February 2010.
- Schuyler Velasco "Miranda Sings: How Colleen Ballinger parlayed YouTube stardom into a comedy career". Back Stage, August 3, 2010
- Keates, Nancy. "Just a Spoonful of Cinnamon Makes the Internet Rounds", Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2012
- "Stage Tube: 'Miranda Sings' Visits Clevver TV", Broadway World, November 4, 2009
- Noteboom, Kris. "BooTube", TheaterJones, March 5, 2012
- "Miranda Sings! at Birdland", stubdog.com, February 4, 2010
- Video of Miranda scat singing in "Favorite Things", Broadwayworld.com, May 2009
- "MUSIC/CABARET Miranda Sings". San Francisco Chronicle. October 4, 2009.
- Liberty, John. "YouTube star Miranda Sings to make Michigan debut, readies for haters", Kalamazoo Gazette, Mlive.com, December 1, 2011
- Ballinger, Colleen. "CINNAMON CHALLENGE (Miranda Sings)", YouTube, February 20, 2012, accessed January 14, 2013
- "Photo Flash: 'Miranda Sings' at Birdland's Cast Party", BroadwayWorld.com, April 29, 2009, accessed May 23, 2012
- Blank, Matthew. "'Miranda Sings Christmas Spectacular,' With Lauren Kennedy and Frankie Grande", Playbill, December 20, 2011
- Sparks, Abbe. "Mirfandas Infiltrate Highland Park from across the country for Midwest Premiere of Miranda Sings Live!", Chicago Tribune (Highland Park local), November 22, 2010
- "'Miranda Sings' Returns to Rrazz Room October 9". BroadwayWorld.com, October 2, 2009, accessed July 23, 2010
- Miranda "death scene" at Birdland, September 2009
- "Miranda Sings Plays 'Broadway At Birdland,' 10/12". Broadwayworld.com, October 13, 2009
- "Photo Flash: Miranda Sings at Cabaret at the Castle". BroadwayWorld.com, April 21, 2010
- "Miranda Sings Christmas Karols for Broadway at Birdland", BroadwayWorld.com, December 16, 2012
- Video of Miranda at Broadway on Broadway, including her meeting with Cheyenne Jackson, beginning at 3:35
- Miranda Wants To Date Zac Efron! on YouTube ClevverTV segment from January 3, 2010, available on YouTube. Retrieved on March 4, 2010..
- Baby by Justin Beiber on YouTube (At 1:00 in video clip) Retrieved on September 17, 2010.
- Miranda's announcement of her "modelling career", Youtube, September 2, 2009
- Ballinger, Colleen. "Contest! 'Magic' by Miranda Sings", Murphy's Magic Community, 16 October 2010
- Miranda's creator, Ballinger, says "I think the cheesiness of amateur magic combined with the Miranda character just fits." See "Haters, back off: an interview with the gal behind YouTube sensation, ‘Miranda Sings’", Chicago Theatre Addict, November 17, 2010
- "Think of Me" – "magic trick" video YouTube, February 25, 2011. See also Chicago cabaret "magic trick" video YouTube, November 22, 2010
- Rudetsky, Seth. "Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City, Plus Kate Wetherhead and Andrew Keenan-Bolger", Playbill.com, June 4, 2012
- Rudetsky, Seth. "Seth Is On Demand as Andrea Martin Opens a New Window", Playbill.com, July 2, 2012
- "YouTube Sensation Miranda Sings Releases 4 Holiday Tunes", BroadwayWorld.com, December 8, 2009
- Fox, Jena Tesse (February 4, 2010). "BWW Reviews: The 2010 Nightlife Awards". broadwayworld.com.
- "CYT Directors' Choice Awards 2010". Christian Youth Theatre official website. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
- "Photo Flash: Broadway Memories Fundraiser". BroadwayWorld.com, accessed January 21, 2011
- Mirandavlogz, YouTube, accessed October 9, 2012
- "Self Taught, Still Learning – Chris Passey (Album Review)", Polly Browne's blog, November 15, 2011, accessed January 22, 2012
- Lowry, Mark. "2012 Out of the Loop Lineup Announced", TheaterJones.com, January 18, 2012
- "Miranda Sings Talks About Guest Starring on Victorious", Nickutopia.com, May 18, 2012
- Miranda Sings on Victorious, The Slap, May 18, 2012
- Jarvedon. "YouTube Sensation Miranda Sings Visits BCT!", BostonChildrensTheatre.org, July 20, 2012
- Shanahan, Mark and Meredith Goldstein. "Woman behind Miranda Sings a real character", The Boston Globe, July 11, 2012
- Winn, Scott and Jason Alexander. "Royal Bobbin", Dr. Fubalous, Hip Hop Doc, LLC, 2012
- Ballinger, Colleen. "Im Runing (sic) for President!", Mirandasings08 channel at YouTube.com, August 30, 2012
- Ballinger, Colleen. Presidential Debate!", Mirandasings08 channel at YouTube.com, October 4, 2012
- Sims, James (August 27, 2010). "Colleen Ballinger Talks: YouTube Character Miranda Sings". BroadwayWorld.com.
- Linton, Shannon. "Miranda Sings . . . Terribly: An Unlikely Rise to Stardom", APU Life, Spring '12 issue, May 30, 2012
- Roberts, Kayleigh. "America's Got No Talent". Highland Park Patch, November 18, 2010
- "Photo Flash: Miranda Sings, Joshua Ledet, & More Visit Birdland!", BroadwayWorld.com, May 29, 2012
- "Miranda/Miranda Audition ... The Word of Your Body". YouTube video, May 23, 2010, accessed February 4, 2012
- "Miranda Sings with WOS Winner". WhatsOnStage.com, June 4, 2010; and "More Miranda Line-up: Strallen, James-Ellis & Lee". WhatsOnStage.com, May 25, 2010
- "Miranda Sings London 2012 Highlights", YouTube, September 24, 2012
- "Singing up a Storm with Miranda Sings", Andy & Adrian show, JOY 94.9FM radio in Melbourne, Australia, 18 November 2009
- "Miranda Sings at Birdland", BroadwayWorld, September 18, 2009, accessed December 28, 2011; "Photo Flash: Miranda Sings And More Spend The Holidays At Birdland", BroadwayWorld, December 28, 2011; and "Photo Flash: Miranda Sings, Joshua Ledet, & More Visit Birdland!", BroadwayWorld.com, May 29, 2012
- Gans, Andrew. "Star-Filled Jim Caruso's Cast Party Plays Town Hall". Playbill.com, February 17, 2011
- "What's on Stage".
- "Miranda Sings at The Ambassadors Theatre", UK Theatre Web, accessed 16 November 2009
- Miranda Sings Australia schedule, November 2009
- Newcastle Herald, November 26, 2009, p. 45
- Michelin, Lana. "How (not) to sing great". Red Deer Advocate, January 14, 2011
- "Miranda Sings at The Ambassadors" June 5, 2009
- Schaeffer, Alicia. "You’re Gonna Love Me: Miranda Sings! at Birdland". Woman Around Town, August 31st, 2011
- Ballinger, Colleen. "Sexy and I know it", YouTube, accessed January 17, 2012
- Ballinger, Colleen. "single ladies music video". YouTube. Retrieved November 25, 2010.
- Ballinger, Colleen. "Free voice lesson" video. YouTube, accessed November 25, 2010
- Mirandasings08, YouTube, accessed October 9, 2012; and Mirandavlogz, YouTube, accessed October 9, 2012
- Official website
- Official Mirandasings08 YouTube channel
- Official Mirandavlogz YouTube channel
- Mirandasings08 on Facebook
- Analysis of Miranda Sings. 2009
- Mark Evans interview of Miranda in London. 2009
- Interview of Miranda Sings. 2009
- Miranda Sings interview in Ireland. 2010
- Miranda interviews Jennette McCurdy. 2012
- Cabaret performance videos
- Miranda giving vocal coaching to the Broadway cast of Rock of Ages. 2009
- Miranda in London performing with the cast of Naked Boys Singing. 2009
- Miranda in London performing with (and coaching) Mark Evans. 2009
- Miranda gives vocal coaching to Shoshana Bean at Birdland, NYC. 2009
- Miranda in Sydney, Australia singing "Suddenly Seymour" with Flip Simmons. 2009
- Broadway medley from Birdland performance. 2010
- "Defying Gravity" with London cast of Wicked. 2010
- Other appearances
- Miranda on an episode of the show Apartment Red. 2010
- Miranda Sings magic promo. 2010
- "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" (Official Song Site). Duet with Sam Harris. 2010
- How to audition for a Broadway Show. Mirandavloz channel. 2010
- Miranda on an episode of Dr. Fubalous at 6:33. 2012
- Colleen Ballinger, creator of Miranda Sings
- Colleen Ballinger profile at BroadwayWorld.com
- Seth Rudetsky interviews Ballinger about the character. 2011
- Dr. Fubalous web series, featuring Colleen Ballinger. 2012