So unless you’ve been living in a cave or have a terrible internet provider, you’ll know that Drake just dropped the video to his track ‘Hotline Bling’ and the internet blew up.
Whether or not you’re a fan of Drizzy or the track (just for reference, I think the track is exceptionally average – but annoyingly addictive), you can’t argue with the video. If you’ve not seen the original, you can do that here. But the important thing is that you see what happened when the internet got a hold of it…
So why does this matter? Because it is the perfect summary of how Drake rose to the top of mainstream popularity. His career so far has been a perfect blend of musical talent and appropriating internet culture: thanks to him we have the popularisation of phrases like “started from the bottom” which are a lot more widespread, plus the inoperable cultural tumour that is #YOLO. Like it or not, Drake knows how to work the internet.
And say what you want about Drizzy’s dancing, he’s done it again and you’re now guaranteed to have heard a snippet of ‘Hotline Bling’, seen a clip of the video or read about it in the last week. That’s the power of the internet. If you can open yourself up to that audience and operate on a truly viral mechanic, you’re bound for success.
Cheap as it may seem, it’s a surefire way. But it’s good in that it’s reliant on the music video that accompanies a track being shot in such a way, rather than altering the track itself. You can still maintain your artistic integrity while taking advantage of the medium.
But you don’t have to churn out an iconic phrase or spew a hashtag. As you can see in ‘Hotline Bling’, something as simple as awkward “dancing” can become memable – so long as it’s distinctive enough. Something quirky will catch attention, but something quirky in the “wrong” way (in that the internet deems it to be bad or wrong, though that may be the intent) will go viral. Everybody wants to spoof and rip on Drizzy’s dancing, and as a result ‘Hotline Bling’ is enjoying the massive success it was almost definitely shot with the intention of. Who is really laughing?
Another example of quirkiness going viral comes from Future Islands, who a couple of years ago set the internet alight briefly with their empassioned performance of ‘Seasons’ on Letterman. You can immediately see why that caught attention.
Remember: something that doesn’t sit right in a music video, sits perfectly on the internet.
Go forth and go viral!