"All it takes is for one person to stand up," a young teenager's voice intones at the beginning of Mike Tompkins' "Stand Up" music video. "You're not just standing up for yourself - you're standing up for all the kids that go through this every single day."
That idea is the core of what "Stand Up" means to Tompkins, and the message he hopes to share with the world through his latest video and first original a cappella offering.
Composed, arranged, performed and produced by Tompkins himself, the song is an infectious, pop-inspired tune with retro elements, including a vocalized horn section. The video is as sleek and polished as the song’s production, a mix of performance shots and footage of the bullied victims standing with those willing to defend them.
The song and video were a long time coming for the 24-year-old Canadian, who has nursed the idea of combating the global issue through song.
And for Tompkins, it’s personal.
"I was really affected by it when I was a kid. In elementary school, I was different ... and I grew up in a small town where if you weren't into sports, you were [considered] weird, or gay..." he said to CASA. "And I wasn't into sports - I was into musical theater."
These experiences, negative though they were, served to shape Tompkins into the person he is now; and that person is now dedicated to letting other kids suffering in silence know that they are not alone.
"There are a lot of kids like me going through [bullying] right now, as we speak," he said. "I wanted to write a song ... to the kids getting bullied, and to those watching them, telling them to stand up."
The song serves as an anthem in the movie "BULLY," a documentary detailing instances of bullying in United States schools that debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.
"We rushed to get everything together ... after the opportunity came up," Tompkins said.
All of the proceeds from sales of “Stand Up” will be donated to Bully Bust, an organization dedicated to encouraging and inspiring people to stand up against bullies.
"[They work] not just inside the school, but outside as well, standing up for people who are being bullied," Tompkins said. "They tell people what to say, and how to help these people."
The song was not only Tompkins’ first song for a cause, but as previously stated, his first original tune as well.
He previously established himself by releasing a cappella covers as a solo artist, including covers of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” – both of which garnered him the positive attention and praise of blogger Perez Hilton.
His Internet-viral status also earned him places on The Today Show, The Ellen Show, and opportunities to work with Timbaland.
"My goal ... is to push the original music," he said of the future. "I'm working on my own sound - it's a struggle for every artist, every musician or songwriter, to find their own sound."
As for “Stand Up,” he hopes people will continue to support Bully Bust through purchasing the single, but he is thrilled with its reception so far – especially in regards to how it has helped others.
"I look at the comments on the video on YouTube ... and it has affected people in a very positive way," he observed. "That in and of itself was my goal - to make a difference in the world we live in in some sort of way, small or big, through my music."
About the writer:
Candice Leigh Helfand is a writer/editor by trade, serving as both a Digital Content Producer for CBS Local and an Associate Editor for A Cappella Records. She has been involved in the a cappella community for over ten years, getting her introduction to the world of contemporary vocal music by singing with, then musically directing, Rutgers Deep Treble. She then helped to found Rutgers ShockWave before graduating from Rutgers' journalism school in 2005. In 2007, she played a part in forming The Red States, an award-winning NYC-based CAL group just shy of celebrating its fifth birthday. And this fall, you can (maybe) hear her singing a background part or two in the first major motion aca-picture, "Pitch Perfect." In her spare time, she enjoys participating in triathlons, cooking hippie foods and watching truly terrible television.