Today Beyonce won the Song of the Year Grammy for “Single Ladies (Put a ring on it)”. If you haven’t heard or seen it yet, have a look. The song’s catchy and it’s quite an impressive bit of choreography mixed with a certain sex appeal. (My oldest daughter asked me why they were dancing in their undies!)
The version I watched had just received 9.6 million views on YouTube. This was the version uploaded on 13 October 2008.
Single Ladies has been around for a long time and it’s recognition today at the Grammys was possibly due more to its gradual infection into social media, or more specifically, YouTube. Here’s how it went for me…
After viewing the video I looked to the side and saw a five star rated Saturday Night Live parody of the video featuring Justin Timberlake donning a leotard. Very funny. Views – 17.9 million. Date uploaded – 18 Nov 2008. Talk about a great launch pad for a song.
Then there’s another highly rated video featuring a chap with a world-class motor thinking he’s Beyonce. Funny-ish. Views – 10.9 million. Date uploaded – 10 January 2009.
Oh and there’s a dance troupe pulling a flash mob dance to Single Ladies in London. Clever considering they do the whole thing in one take. Views – 3.5 million. Date uploaded – 20 April 2009.
And a baby watching Single Ladies on TV and dancing. Cute. Greatly assisted by Dad laughing. There are few things more infectious than laughter. Views – 8.1 million. Date uploaded – 26 January 2009.
But wait, there’s more! Now a grown male in a nappy creating a meme out of the meme of the baby dancing to Single Ladies! Ridiculous. Date uploaded – 28 September 2009. Views 868,029.
So far all the parodies I watched were by people simply trying to make others laugh. It wasn’t until June 2009 when a group actually levered “Single Ladies” to simply promote their own cause.
Enter the Jonas Brothers, a Disney produced boy band who’ve shamelessly lifted the SNL “bloke in a leotard” idea and lip synced Single Ladies to promote their next release. Now I would normally mock this but their video has been viewed 16 million times! Date uploaded – 3 June 2009.
Accepting the Jonas Brothers are already a very successful boy band in the US, it’s interesting to see that successful exposure and marketing in social media doesn’t have to be an original idea to capture people’s imagination. In fact the copying of an idea, execution, and song, with just the slightest individual interpretation, can be more popular than the original. On this wee journey alone the rip off versions have accumulated five times more exposure of Beyonce’s song than the original video.
Perhaps the Japanese were ahead of their time with Karaoke.