Internet killed the video star
HEN Ghyslain Raza picked up a golf ball retriever at his school in Canada a few years ago and pretended it was a Star Wars lightsaber (c’mon, we’ve all done it), he could scarcely have believed his actions would be watched 900 million times. Raza, who is now known as “the Star Wars kid”, never intended for his video to be made public. He later took legal action against his classmates who had posted it on the net without his consent.
The Star Wars Kid video is the most popular viral video ever. The first chart for viral videos was drawn up by the people behind the new ITV programme Totally Viral, who say: “It’s now official, with viewing figures like this, virals truly are the entertainment of the future.”
You can’t argue with the figures, but what is most surprising about the chart is the amount of scratchy and lo-fi videos that draw in huge audiences.
While Kylie Minogue’s advertisement for the Agent Provocateur lingerie range did attract 360 million viewers, she still found herself down in fourth place behind the Star Wars Kid and the “Numa Numa” video (which had 700 million viewers). Numa Numa, in case you’ve forgotten, is a video clip of a teenager lip-synching to a Romanian pop song. In third place was One Night In Paris – the Paris Hilton sex tape.
If you think of how much Duran Duran used to spend on their videos or how much The Killers spent getting Tim Burton to direct their last video ( When YouWere Young), you can only be left aghast at the popularity of the made-for-nothing Star Wars Kid and Numa Numa videos.
You will remember how the US rock band OK Go became
Waware of the possibilities lurking within the creation of a successful viral video when their low-budget video for their song A Million Ways – which featured the band in a backyard doing a silly dance – helped them become a bit of an internet phenomenon. The video apparently only cost $10 to make, but as we’ve seen before, several multiples of $10 were
spent in informing everyone of this figure. Still, they got a top 10 album out of it.
Is it goodbye then to Simon Le Bon hanging off a yacht in the Caribbean, expensive Hollywood producers and all those heavily stylised moody music videos shot on exotic locations? There certainly was a time, not too long ago, that, due to the supremacy of MTV, it was not unusual for a band to report that more money was spent on a single video than on the entire recording costs of an album.
A growing area here is the unofficial music video, where fans take it upon themselves to create a video – either to supplement the official one or because no video was made in the first place. Somewhere out there you can find the unofficial video for a track from Danger Mouse’s Grey Album which has footage of both The Beatles and Jay-Z in live performance.
Following Kanye West’s comments about George Bush’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina, an unofficial – and very popular – video emerged which put scenes from the devastation in New Orleans alongside West’s song, Gold Digger.
The viral video and the related unofficial video are even more important now, following digital marketing agency iCrossing’s report about how people search online. They studied the different types of media most popular with the online community, the methods used to find their media of choice and how many online media purchases they make.
They found that music reigns as the most popular type of media among online users (at 33 per cent) but that video is now a very close second at 31 per cent.
Any day now, expect the headline: “NewMichael Jackson video only cost $3 to make”.
One Night in Paris: Hotel heiress comes in at number three in the Internet video clip chart