The back story on Todrick Hall’s viral videos: ‘It was the most risky, dangerous thing we could do’

Todrick Hall, center, and his team chat it up.

Todrick Hall, center, and his team chat it up.

(Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

Without a doubt, Todrick Hall has made a cameo on everyone's Twitter or Facebook feed since his now-legendary McDonald's drive-thru tune in 2010. Starting August 31, and every Monday following, he'll be popping up on television screens (again, after being on season nine of "American Idol") with his new reality show, "Todrick," on MTV.

Ahead of the show's premiere, the director-choreographer-singer-dancer-everything extraordinaire, spoke with us about some of his most viral videos. Check out the behind-the-scenes tidbits on them below.

"90s R&B Disney" feat. Shoshana Bean

Every time I hear "Always Be My Baby" [by Mariah Carey], I think back to 4th grade when I was singing it in music class. It has such a nostalgic feeling and there's so many songs that make me feel this way from the 90s R&B era. The only other songs that made me feel that way were the Alan Menken songs from 90s Disney movies like "The Lion King," "Aladdin," "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast." I wanted to know what it would be like to collide those two worlds since both of these different genres make me feel the same thing.


Well, I love Beyonce and Cinderella. But honestly, I had just done "Beauty and the Beat," if you want to know the real answer, and got a lot of flack on the Internet because people said I was putting down my own race, which was not my intention. I started getting the reputation as the guy who makes fun of his own race on YouTube. I was like, "I have over 200 videos and 5 of them are that, so the other 195 videos are great videos with great messages." But people, I've learned from being in this business and being on "Idol," they would rather pinpoint those five things and focus on the negative than the positive. Following that, I wanted to do something beautiful that celebrated the African American culture like what "The Wiz" did with "The Wizard of Oz." I wanted to take Cinderella and mix it with Beyonce and make something amazing with an all-black cast — same as "Beauty and the Beat" but instead of making fun of stereotypes in the ghetto, I was going to highlight our culture and celebrate what's beautiful about that.

And Beyonce loved it! That's what got me to work with her. In fact, that was one of the first videos I choreographed that was a big video. Funny enough, the guy who was supposed to choreograph bailed out at the last minute. If I had not choreographed that, Beyonce wouldn't have hired me. That was a life-changing, monumental career moment working with her. It was an awesome, meant-to-be situation.

"Cell Black Django"

"Chicago" is one of my favorite Broadway musicals. I love Bob Fosse, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Queen Latifah in that movie. I saw the movie first and when that number came on, it was just my favorite. It was the showstopping number of the movie. I had done "Spell Block Tango" the year before for Halloween and thought that it would be funny if we put all the biggest pop divas in the jail.

We found a Mariah Carey impersonator who was a dead on ringer. I found her on YouTube and flew her in that same day from Florida.

"Beyonce 'End of Time' Target Flash Mob"

Flash mobs were all the rage when I first moved to L.A. I didn't know anyone so I went to AMDA [American Musical and Dramatic Academy] and decided I wanted to do a video. Beyonce's album ["4"] was coming out and people were saying it wasn't getting the promotion it needed because it was the first time she had ever managed herself. I thought that as one of her biggest fans, the least I could do was go out and do a promo video for her myself. She had this exclusive deal with Target who was releasing the album so I said lets go dress up in their colors, go there and do my favorite song from the album.

It was the most risky, dangerous thing we could do and honestly I don't know if I would have the balls to do that right now. We had to go in without permission, unplug their ATM and plug in my boombox. It was a scary thing and they had no idea we were coming in, but it ended up being one of my top three videos ever. That's when Beyonce responded with the video message — it's titled "Thanks, Todrick Hall." That is my favorite Throwback Thursday.

"Todrick" premieres Monday, August 31 at 10 p.m. on MTV.

Get your life! Follow me on Twitter: @TrevellAnderson.