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Justin Bieber parody wins Scifest 'science idol' grand prize

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

He's 16 years old, was born in Canada but now lives in Dunedin and loves making videos for YouTube. James Mustapic has created a scientific musical parody from Justin Bieber's latest release, scooping the grand prize in the 2012 Scifest 'science idol' competition with his clip 'Covalent Love'.

James, a student from Dunedin's John McGlashan College, entered the competition never thinking that he would win it. "I knew a Justin Bieber parody would be great. I wanted a popular song that was new; the song is about a boy wanting a girl and the atoms fitted into that well."

"I don't think I'm a very good singer, so I wasn't confident about the song, but I really enjoyed writing the lyrics and knew a fair bit about the science I was trying to sing about," says James.

Tom McFadden performed live at the Scifest celebration of "whose science is it anyway?", held in Dunedin on Friday 6 July from 7pm at the University of Otago's College of Education Auditorium.

Tom said James had created a song that met all of the judging criteria including critiquing scientific content, lyrical ingenuity and suitability for performance.

"What makes his song so cool is that it takes a traditional formula of a pop song and maintains that magic while exploring a critical chemical concept with depth, accuracy and pizzazz. We've checked his submission for scientific accuracy and the final audio will be an expanded version of his original submission," says Tom.

The evening event celebrated the science festival with a night spent looking at 'the wisdom of age vs. the enthusiasm of youth'. Guests included Mayor Dave Cull as MC alongside popular clinical psychologist Nigel Latta, University of Otago's Prof Richie Poulton and Prof Lloyd Davis, coupled with loads of audience participation and laughs.

The judging panel for the 'science idol' competition consisted of Tom McFadden and festival associate director Laura Madden. Twenty-seven submissions were made from across New Zealand, and 11 finalists were selected; their clips can be viewed on www.scifest.org.nz.

As part of the grand prize, James recorded his audio professionally in the world-class recording console at the University of Otago's Albany Street studio and will shoot a music video with Tom McFadden in a Dunedin location.

James was one of three winners in their age group category in the 2012 Scifest 'science idol' competition. The categories were 8 -14 yrs, 15-21 yrs and 22 plus; each winner won a brand new iPad thanks to KlabLab.

Thirteen-year-old Ella Cameron, a student at Tahuna Normal Intermediate in Dunedin, won the 8-14 category with her fun-filled and factual rhyming clip 'The Heart Goes Boom'. Ella also won the 'science idol' competition for her age group during the 2010 New Zealand International Science Festival. The other age group category winner was Justin Lee Tripp, a science teacher originally from the US, now teaching in Nelson; Justin won the 22-plus category, using innovative visual techniques and lyrics in his clip 'Auditory System'.

The festival launched the competition following a New Zealand-wide 'science idol' tour courtesy of the US Embassy. The tour included visits to primary and intermediate schools by US science rapper, Fulbright graduate fellow and University of Otago Masters student Tom McFadden, aka The Rhymebosome.

The 2012 New Zealand International Science Festival is sponsored by two major funding partners, the University of Otago and the Dunedin City Council.

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