One week ago on Monday, a Marine corporal in Afghanistan posted a video of him and his buddies lip-syncing Britney Spears’ “Hold It Against Me.”
It was amusing, well-edited and uplifting — and quickly became one of the most popular current YouTube videos in the world after Spears herself shared it on Twitter three days later.
By now, you’ve probably seen the video. As I write this post, it has been viewed more than 2.6 million times in less than two weeks. YouTube statistics show it’s the third-most popular music video on the site this week.
Not wanting to miss out on the fun, I reached out through YouTube’s messaging service to the then-anonymous Marine who originally posted the video.
His name is Cpl. Andrew Tarin, and he’s a flight equipment technician with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467, out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. The squadron has flown AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters and UH-1N Twin Huey utility helicopters in Afghanistan for the last few months in support of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Tarin said he and his friend, Cpl. Adam Purdy, decided to lip-sync the song after hearing it on a bus ride from their living quarters at Camp Leatherneck to their job with the squadron.
“We heard the song on the radio and had no idea who the artist was,” Tarin said by e-mail from Afghanistan. “We sent a vague request home asking for the song. We received it a few days later and were like, ‘Wow, it’s Britney Spears.’ Before you know it, one thing led to another and we made the video. Our aim was to put out a video that would make our friends and families smile.”
There are 19 performers in the video, all with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 466 (Reinforced), of MCAS New River, N.C., or HMLA-169, an attack squadron out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. Elements of Tarin’s squadron, HLMA-467, joined VMM-266 (rein.) for the MEU’s deployment.
Tarin did all the filming and editing for the video, with Purdy, a Cobra and Huey airframe mechanic, helping to select clips appropriate for different pieces of the song. Tarin appears in the video himself at the 3:10 mark, wearing red goggles and a mustache while singing and sitting behind the wheel of a small bus.
“We all have been blown away by the reactions online,” Tarin said. “We never expected it to get this big. It was awesome that Britney saw the video and approved.”