Have you watched the latest YouTube video doing the rounds on social media in Kenya? It is a Kenyan rendition of a 2013 hit song by American artist, Pharrell Williams, titled Happy.
This Kenyan version has also become an overnight sensation. It has moved from a few views four days ago to over 11,000 as I write this post. Of course, that is nowhere near the 110 million-plus mark the Pharrel original has reached, but that is still pretty impressive by local standards.
The video was a brainchild of Capucine Dayen, who is also the video director. It all started as a wedding gift idea for Sophia, the bride and Jamie, the groom. The two were scheduled to tie the knot on the 22nd of February 2014 in Diani, Mombasa.
“Tom Bolwell, who does the video shoot and the editing, hails from the UK and has a history in videography while I was born in France, and my background lies in journalism. We both met through common friends here in Kenya a few months ago,” said Dayen via an email to Kenya Geographic.
“This is when I approached him about the idea of making a music video as a gift for our Kenyan friends’ wedding. The couple loved Pharrell’s song, and so we thought, why not join forces and produce our version which we titled ‘22.02.14’, the date of their wedding,” she adds.
The Happy Song video, which took seven weeks to produce, starts at Sophia and Jamie’s House and is meant to represent a typical day in their lives. “A few of us sneaked in, with the help of their staff, while they were away for a weekend. The first few shots of the video are, therefore, in their bed, their bathroom and their kitchen, while the participants are wearing their clothes,” Dayen tells us.
“We then move on to the motorcycle shot, making fun of Kanye West and Kim’s latest music video, on to the office shot, here again, adding a bit of irony with the horse and the dogs, to sundowners, before heading to the party.”
The hilarious part of the video for me is the suitcase scene. Several guys somehow manage to fit into this little brown suitcase dated 22.02.2014. They then materialise somewhere on a beachfront in Diani and then proceed to ‘disembark’ from the same bag!
The suitcase reminded me of a 90s cartoon classic called Sports Billy which centred around a super hero kid by the same name. Sports Billy had this magical bag from which he could pull out anything that suited his current situation. Anyway, after having fun at this famous coastal location, they head to the wedding.
“I first had the idea of Happy Song in December 2013 but the actual pre-production kicked-off in January. We were working an average of three days per week for seven weeks to complete the project,” Dayen mentions. Note that that does not include shooting and editing days.
“The biggest challenge we faced was breaking down the song equally, so it plays seamlessly in each scene,” she says. Attempting to get over 35 people in the cast synchronised with the crew’s schedule, all while keeping it a secret from the Bride and Groom, was yet another uphill task they faced.
With all the ups and downs they faced, they somehow managed to have the video ready for the night of the eve of the wedding. Dayen tells us the video was first shown to the couple on a projector on the actual big day.
The video, shot in different locations around Nairobi in Karen, Kitisuru, Kabete and Diani, represented a vibrant cultural mix of Kenyan, Somali, British, Indian, Madagascar, Italian, Filipino, Swedish, Russian, French, Mexican and American flavours.
It ended up making quite an interesting watch that one person on Twitter thought it could make a brilliant marketing video for Kenya’s tourism. Have you watched the Kenyan version of Happy Song? If you have not, here is the video.