The Best American Sign Language Music Videos

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Most mainstream videos feel like little more than an opportunity to watch half-naked women drink champagne atop expensive cars. Gone are the days of “Thriller” and “Take on Me.” Instead, MTV has a show called “I Just Want My Pants Back.”

But while MTV’s busy remaking Teen Wolf (seriously!), hard-of-hearing performers are hard at work producing and publishing videos of their favorite songs. You can now find dozens of videos online reshot and translated into American Sign Language. The Deaf Performing Artists Network (D-Pan), an organization that promotes and produces entertainment for the deaf or hard of hearing, has made some higher-quality examples, but most of the videos out there are labors of love by fans who sign to their favorite songs.

 White Stripes, “We’re Going to Be Friends”: Similar to a great cover song or drag show, the best ASL videos don’t just translate lyrics, they reinterpret the energy, style, and even the meaning for audiences. Produced by D-PAN, this video substitutes Jack and Meg White lounging on a couch for a playground full of children. Cute, wholesome, and still indie somehow.

Marilyn Manson, “This Is the New Shit”: This compelling performance is made even better by the performer Bjorn Storm’s disclaimer that while Marilyn Manson’s music deals with “sensitive” issues he believes in “full inclusion of the diversity that occurs within our music.” There are fewer fishnets and high heels as the original Manson clip, but the same badass spirit. Maybe even more badass for being so DIY. He’s doing something right, the video has nearly a half-million views on YouTube.

Nirvana, “Sliver”:
ASL videos usually don’t replicate the polish or production values of corporate music videos, but that almost makes them better—nobody loved “Walk this Way” for for its production values. Plus it’s fun to picture these guys explaining their video project to grandma.


Kanye West, “Good Morning”:
Good choice for a message about deaf eduction. If only we could get the cartoon bear in Kanye’s video signing.


Paula Abdul, “Opposites Attract”: For those of you who refuse to acknowledge videos made after the ’80s, don’t worry. For better or worse, ASL performers are digging into the crates.


Know some good ones I’ve missed? Put ’em in the comments.

Click here for more music features from Mother Jones.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate