"Wear a Mask" — a parody video by 24-year-old Topekan Noah Lindquist poking fun at mask deniers during this time of COVID-19 — has quickly gone viral, getting more than 1.7 million views on YouTube since he put it out Saturday.
Lindquist’s song uses the melody of "Be Our Guest," a tune from the 1991 animated Disney film "Beauty and the Beast."
But the song’s lyrics, written and sung by Lindquist, instead provide a contemporary take on the current pandemic while encouraging listeners to "wear a mask."
The song's lyrics say, "Try not to be so grouchy. Have some faith in Fauci!" and "You can shout. You can glare. But listen, Karen, I don’t care."
The song’s words are displayed at the bottom of the screen throughout the video.
Lindquist has posted videos on YouTube since he was in high school, he said, adding that one garnered about 70,000 views but none of the others even came close to having that many.
Lindquist said he consequently feels "overwhelmed" to see how many people have watched "Wear a Mask."
"It feels surreal, honestly," he said. "I never expected this to reach so many people."
The video had 40,000 up votes and 1,100 down votes as of Thursday, with more than 1,800 people having posted comments beneath it.
"Dang, YouTube needs to implement an ‘infinite upvotes’ button for cases like this, because a single one just isn’t cutting it," wrote a viewer who identified himself as Sebastian Weinberg.
The video lasts about two minutes, featuring animation and musical accompaniment taken straight from "Be Our Guest" in "Beauty and the Beast."
But the vocals are handled not by characters Lumière and Mrs. Potts, who team up to sing "Be Our Guest" in the movie, but by Lindquist, who imitates them while singing his own lyrics as those characters are on screen.
Lindquist’s video also features backing vocals from a two-person ensemble consisting of himself and Ashley Young, a local singer and actress.
Lindquist, the son of Topekans Dan and Megan Lindquist, graduated from Topeka West High School in 2014 and studied musical theater before graduating in December 2018 from Kansas State University.
He said he then moved to Kansas City, Mo., and worked a day job while also performing consistently as an actor in stage productions.
Lindquist traveled last February to New York City, where he spent about a month appearing at auditions and working to develop connections before returning home about the same time COVID-19 began triggering widespread lockdowns.
Lindquist then lost his day job due to staffing cuts resulting from COVID-19.
He came to live with his family in Topeka while working at downtown’s Juli’s Coffee and Bistro, he said.
Almost the entire first verse of "Wear a Mask" was written as Lindquist was taking a 20-minute lunch break at Juli’s, he said.
At the time, he had recently watched "Beauty and the Beast" at home with his mother.
"We sell handmade masks at Juli’s," he said. "Somebody bought one and in my head I just started singing ‘Wear a mask, wear a mask,’ with the melody from ’Be Our Guest.’ "
Lindquist said it took him close to a month to finish writing the song and singing, engineering, editing and creating the video. About 30 total hours of work were involved, he said.
After "Wear a Mask" came out on YouTube, Lindquist said, his social media presence increased dramatically and he found himself feeling a bit of pressure to keep that success going.
"I’m trying to brainstorm something else I can produce in the near future," he said.
While some people make money from creating YouTube videos that attract large numbers of viewers, that hasn’t been the case for Lindquist.
Besides, he said, he doubts he would be legally entitled to profit from "Wear a Mask" because his video uses Disney’s animation and melody.
"I’m just going to let people enjoy it and just revel in the positive response," he said.
Lindquist hasn’t heard any complaints from Disney about his video, despite its having gone viral, so he is guessing the company doesn’t have a problem with his parody of its work.
Lindquist recalled that Ryan McCoy, his teacher and theater director in high school, gave him encouragement when he began writing parodies of songs as a member of the Topeka West Players.
"I’m glad that I’m getting to do that again, and I hope to do more of it in the future," he said.