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Friday, Jun 21, 2024

Midd Kid 2.0 video brings an updated view of life at Middlebury

Matthew Gamez ‘25 (left) and Leigha Francis ‘25 (right), two of the three
lead artists on the Midd Kid 2.0 song, went to the Snow Bowl to film the
accompanying music video.
Matthew Gamez ‘25 (left) and Leigha Francis ‘25 (right), two of the three lead artists on the Midd Kid 2.0 song, went to the Snow Bowl to film the accompanying music video.

The influence of the original “MIDD KID” video, released in 2010, cannot be understated: It garnered over 1.7 million views on YouTube and cemented many of Middlebury’s stereotypes in pop culture. Now, thirteen years later, Malick Thiam ’24 and Jordan Saint-Louis ’24 are working together to create not only a new, high-quality song and music video, but also one that more accurately reflects Middlebury and its current culture.

This is not the pair’s first foray into directing. In 2022, Thiam and Saint-Louis created a viral music video cover for the song “Calm Down” by Rema. Directed and shot by the two friends, the video has since garnered almost a million views  and led the two to continue their work together. 

Following the success of “Calm Down,” the pair planned to begin working on a new Midd Kid video the following year. However, Thiam ended up studying abroad for the entirety of his junior year, pushing back the creation of the video until this past summer. 

Neither Thiam nor Saint-Louis have any formal musical experience. So, they started by reaching out to the Middlebury Music Department Chair Damascus Kafumbe. Kafumbe directed them to McLean Macionis, professor of the practice in the music department at Middlebury who owns his own music label and has previously produced music scores for television shows. Macionis was a college student when the original Midd Kid video was released and was eager to assist when asked to participate in the new production.

“I went to school at Occidental on the West Coast, but that first video sent little ripples across the country to all of us that were going into school. I know 1.7 million views is probably not a lot today, but ten years ago that was a big deal. So when I heard that they wanted to do the second, I said, ‘I can't resist,’” Macionis told The Campus. 

Originally, Macionis was just providing guidance and connecting students in his class to the project, but as time went on he took a bigger hand in the actual production, becoming more invested in providing expert assistance. Thiam and Saint-Louis would send Macionis playlists, tracks and even just beats they enjoyed and wanted to include to help craft the song. 

The original Midd Kid song was written in a 2010s style of parody pop, and was more focused on comedy and making fun of Middlebury. Unlike the original song, Midd Kid 2.0 was written to be less of a spoof and more of a listenable piece, with months of work and production for a high-quality song that still carries some humor and specific Middlebury references.

“Modern pop, modern afro house, reggaeton. It pulls from all those different diverse influences to create one track that you would think, ‘Oh, this could appear on a Spotify playlist,’” Macionis said.

Once the song had lyrics and instrumentals planned, Thiam and Saint-Louis began their first shoot at the beginning of October. The two put out an Instagram story on Wednesday night asking for people to come to a sunrise shoot at the Middlebury Snow Bowl on Friday morning not expecting many people to show up given the 6 a.m. call time. 

“We sent that out and we got about thirty-ish people to get up at 5 in the morning and show up at the Snowball,” said Thiam in an interview with The Campus. 

Since then, the two have shot multiple scenes, including a party in Palana Social House, a walk to Twilight Hall, and even a special guest appearance. The video has gained such momentum that they were even able to partner with Athletic Brewing Company, a non-alcoholic beer company founded by Middlebury alumni Bill Shufelt ’05, to feature the drinks in their video.  

Though iconic in its inception, the original Midd Kid video faced backlash for its portrayal of Middlebury as well as the lack of diversity in its casting. Alpana Bakshi ’26 recalled watching the video after applying to Middlebury, but before committing to attend. 

“It’s fairly dated so I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I watched it again after I arrived and thought it was funny because there are some things that are still true. It was giving very white student athlete,” Bakshi said.

Current Midd Kids can look forward to seeing the video soon: “Midd Kid 2.0” will be premiering this Friday, Dec. 8 at 8:30 p.m. in the Grille.

When asked about her hopes for the upcoming video, Bakshi said she is looking for greater diversity not only in the people but also in the experiences portrayed. Thiam and Saint-Louis were both well aware of some of the more problematic elements of campus culture in the original video, but stated that they are looking forward to showing an updated yet still authentic side of Middlebury.

“With the song, with the video, we really want to convey a different sense of Middlebury and like, ideally when people watch it, not even people who really go here, but people who are gonna come here in the future… they feel good watching and they see themselves in it,” Saint-Louis said.

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Orly Berke

Orly Berke '25 (she/her) is a News Editor.

This is Orly’s second year as news editor with previous experience as a staff writer.   

She is a joint political science - art history major. Outside of academics she is a member of the College Democrats as well as Darkroom club. She enjoys watching movies, cooking, and spending time with friends, oftentimes in Proctor, her favorite dining hall.