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Ranking Demi Adejuyigbe’s phenomenal September 21 videos

Yes, we remember… after six straight years, how could we forget?

2021 has been a long, long year already, but there’s still something pure and good in the world: Demi Adejuyigbe’s annual escalating “September” video. The comedian, podcaster (Gilmore Guys, Punch Up the Jam), and TV writer (The Good Place, The Amber Ruffin Show) is known on Twitter for his videos, from adding lyrics to the Succession theme song to creatively illustrating misheard lyrics. But he’s most famous for his annual tradition of releasing a video on Sept. 21, the date famously referenced in “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.

And he’s done it again. The King of September fulfilled his promise to make another video set to the Earth, Wind & Fire classic after raising more than $330,000 for charities last year. Adejuyigbe is again using the video to raise money for urgent causes (West Fund, Sunrise, and Imagine Water Works), though he claims this will be the last entry in the epic series. (Granted, he’s said that before.) Donating to those causes through The Action Network will enter you into a raffle; in the newest video, Adejuyigbe says the grand prize is a September 21-themed painting, which he created himself and will hand-deliver to the winner anywhere in the world. (As of this writing, about two hours after the video dropped, fans have already donated close to $320,000.) While we hope that he’ll reconsider killing the annual tradition, we can rest easy knowing that Earth, Wind, & Fire approve of these mini-masterpieces.

With six entries down, and maybe… possibly?… no more coming, we’re taking this opportunity to rank the “September” videos, not because we think some are inherently better than others, but because there’s no greater way to cement a series as Important Art than arguing about it on the internet.

6. 9/21/17

The 2017 video opens on a red backdrop. Demi, wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt printed with “SEPT 21,” pops into frame when the lyrics to “September” start. He dances around, but this time he punctuates the pauses with blasts from a confetti gun, which is a delightful addition. The punchline comes when he turns around, as if to show the back of the shirt. We assume that it will say “THATS TODAY” as it did in the first video. But it’s blank! Demi holds up a “one second” finger, grabs some scissors from his pocket, and walks out of frame. The sheet comes down to reveal the wall behind, on which balloons spelling out “SEPT 21” and a banner reading “THATS TODAY” are hung. Demi dances in and out of frame again, first firing a confetti cannon and then playing a saxophone that also spews confetti.

Sequels are hard (just ask Speed 2: Cruise Control director Jan de Bont), and Adejuyigbe does a fantastic job of expanding on the original premise without losing the core spirit of the joke. However, it mostly just hits the same notes as the original video, which is why it’s ranked at the bottom of our list.

5. 9/21/16

The first video in the series opens on a shot of an empty room. Demi’s head pops into frame right as the lyrics begin, sporting round sunglasses pushed down to the tip of his nose. He starts dancing, slowly rising until his shirt is visible. It’s printed with the date “SEPT 21.” “Oh,” you think, “I see what he did there.” With impeccable timing — just as the “ba de ya”s of the chorus start — he turns around to reveal the back of the shirt, which says “THAT’S TODAY.” A perfect button to a perfect bit.

It’s the OG, and a tough act to follow, since it’s mostly funny because you’re wondering “Where’s he going with this?” for so long. The fact that it’s relatively low on the ranking is just a testament to how skilled Adejuyigbe is at heightening a joke.

4. 9/21/19

By 2019, expectations for the annual “September” video were sky-high. To illustrate the anticipation, 2019’s video opens on a calendar with days crossed off leading up to Sept. 21. Then the camera pans away from the calendar and opens on an empty kitchen. Things pop the hell off.

As the lyrics start, the refrigerator door opens, revealing the words “Do you remember?” in vinyl stickers, and out pops Adejuyigbe. He crawls out of the fridge wearing a new “SEPT 21” shirt and starts dancing, opening cabinets along the way which have “9” and “21” stickers placed inside the doors. He dances his way over to a blank wall, before confetti is thrown from offscreen and arranges itself into “SEPT 21” on the wall. He continues over to his couch, on which pillows printed with “9” and “21” are arranged. He points to the TV, which is playing Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” video. But who’s that in the background? It’s Adejuyigbe again, dancing in his “SEPT 21” shirt. When the camera finds him again, he’s back to the original “SEPT 21” white T-shirt. He dances over to a full mariachi band, playing along to “September” with balloons spelling out “SEPTEMBER 21” and homemade banners reading “THATS TODAY.” Demi pops back into frame, this time with a “SEPT 21” hat, playing a flute, which blasts confetti.

This entry was by far the most ambitious up to this point, with a moving camera, some impressive video editing, and multiple costume changes. It illustrates just how much Adejuyigbe has matured as a comedian, and proves that he can mine every ounce of humor out of a joke.

3. 9/21/21

With a shiny new Emmy nomination (for writing on The Amber Ruffin Show) under his belt, Adejuyigbe brings a refined Hollywood polish to his sixth and final (I mean… we’ll see) “September” video. Opening on Demi debating with Addie Weyrich (who you might recognize — she danced with him on top of her car after Trump lost the 2020 election) about the implications of the ending of the 1978 movie musical Grease, this year’s video is shot like an indie-film dream sequence. Wearing a Saturday Night Fever-esque pink suit bedazzled with the date, Demi dances his way through a kitsch-filled backyard that turns out to be the home of late songwriter Allee Willis, co-writer of “September.”

The song ending with the requisite confetti flying out of an instrument — a drum, this time. Adejuyigbe mirrors the end of Grease by flying off into the sky in a car with comedian Ben Cahn, in the Danny Zuko role. And in cell-phone footage over the credits, members of Earth, Wind & Fire congratulate Demi on another year of maintaining their legacy. We close on a video of Demi’s boss Amber Ruffin, backstage at the Emmys, gushing about how much she loves the “September” videos, finally asking “Is this one?” as she realizes what the footage is going to be used for.

This may be a case of denial as the first stage of grief, but despite the implied finality of that ending shot, I just can’t seem to get behind this video as a last entry in the September saga. It doesn’t feel grand enough. I want more! I need closure! It is for this reason that I cannot rank 2021’s video any higher than 3rd place, in the desperate belief that there are new heights to be reached.

2. 9/21/20

This is a potential swan song from a comedian at the top of his game. The could-have-been final video opens on an alarm clock set to 9:21, pans over to a calendar flipped to Sept. 21, and up to reveal a bedroom. There’s a lump under the covers, so we assume Adejuyigbe will jump out of bed and start dancing. Nope! There’s a movement against the wall and Adejuyigbe turns around to reveal he’s wearing a hoodie painted to match the wallpaper. He dances towards the camera and jumps down to reveal the bedroom is inside a truck parked alongside an LA highway. He starts dancing down the road, and the camera pans over to a billboard painted with “SEPT 21.” And what’s that in the sky? It’s one of those planes that flies banners. Of course, the banner reads “THATS TODAY.” Adejuyigbe dances back over to the truck, which has “SEPT 21” spelled out in balloons on the side. He plays the trombone, which of course spews confetti. Fade to black. This video is a called shot. It’s a sunk 8-ball. It’s a slam-dunk. (Those are all the sports metaphors I know.)

1. 9/21/18

The third video in the series deviates from the first two entries by opening with Adejuyigbe on screen. His back is turned to the camera as he plays the opening notes of “September” on a keyboard inside a garage. The camera zooms in, and he stands up and turns around to reveal… a shirt with a question mark printed on it? Hold on, that isn’t Adejuyigbe at all!

As the lyrics start, a sheet comes down, and there’s our hero, dancing in a suit and sunglasses. He tears away the suit to reveal his trusty “SEPT 21” T-shirt. As the chorus starts, the sheet falls away again — to reveal the West Los Angeles Children’s Choir, who are all wearing “SEPT 21” T-shirts and singing “ba de ya — 21st September / ba-de-ya — September on the 21st.” Demi comes back in with an oboe that shoots confetti. Everyone dances and sings.

This may be a controversial ranking, but I’m a sucker for a children’s choir. There’s even a post-credits scene where Adejuyigbe says “I think we got it” and the children all cheer, which is just adorable. We’re all hoping he’ll keep coming back and topping himself, over and over, but it’s hard to imagine exactly how he’s going to top this one in our hearts.

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