A new example of American exceptionalism comes to us from Copenhagen: Matt “Airistotle” Burns is the best when it comes to pretend playing guitar. The American successfully defended his title at the 22nd Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland, on Friday after competing in the finals against 15 contestants from South Korea, Pakistan, Sweden, Britain, Canada, and other countries. Burns, of Staten Island, finished ahead of runners-up Patrick “Ehrwolf” Culek of Germany and Alexander “The Jinja Assassin” of Australia, who tied for second place. Japan’s 15-year-old Show-Show placed third, reports the AP.
A heavy metal version of “I Will Survive” helped Burns romp away with a score of 35.4. Culek and Roberts each scored 34.6 points, Show-Show 34.5. The Air Guitar World Championships started off as a joke, but has grown into an annual celebration of guitar-miming chordeographers that draws people to Finland from around the world. Burns has been at it for a decade, he tells NPR, since he saw a documentary on the subject. “I was like, ‘That is the silliest, dumbest, most beautiful, amazing thing I’ve ever seen,’ ” he says. “I signed up for the next competition that I could.”