In­ter­net killed the video star

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC - Brian Boyd

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”.

bboyd@ir­ish-times.ie

One Night in Paris: Ho­tel heiress comes in at num­ber three in the In­ter­net video clip chart

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