June 21, 2014

Book of Happy - Chapter 1: A Successful Commercial Product

I had a game this spring that I'd play whenever the family went on a drive together.  "I'd like to hear that Happy song," I'd announce, and started pressing buttons on the radio, scanning the FM dial.  Happy quickly came up perhaps 80% of the time.  My children, not sharing my enthusiasm for the song, wished it were otherwise.

As a friend once said of Madonna, Happy is not just ubiquitous, it's everywhere.  Six months after its release, the song still plays constantly on radio.  It is a format buster:  in April it stood atop an unprecedented six different Billboard charts.  Slate noted that Happy ended a 14-month drought - the longest in history - in which no lead black artist held the number one spot on the Billboard rankings.  "Thanks to its unabashed retro-pop friendliness, Happy may be the ultimate 2014 crossover record. Or, to put a finer point on it: This may turn out to be white people‚Äôs favorite hit by a black person in a decade."  (Remember Outkast?)

Happy is starting to slip down the Billboard Hot 100, now residing at number 8, although this should not comfort those who wish to displace it:  it has already been #1 in the UK on three separate occasions.

But it's no Gangnam Style.  The official Happy video has registered 305.6 million views on Youtube, which sounds like a lot.  But Happy is not even in the Top 30.  Gangnam Style holds the top spot with 2 billion views.  Think of Happy as the USA, and Gangnam Style as China.  Slackers around the world agree that Gangnam Style (not to mention Baby and On the Floor) is a better way to waste four minutes than Happy.  Happy is a hit, but not the biggest hit even of its era - in the context of its time, a highly successful commercial product.

Think I'll play it again.

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Blogger Laird of Madrona said...

That's a catchy song. Auto-Tune makes it blander than it might be.

The video is pretty good (nice hat -- I've got one of those). But not even in the same league as Gangnam Style -- in my opinion, the greatest music video of all time.

June 21, 2014 at 10:00 PM  
Blogger The Other Front said...

Somewhere in Los Angeles, in the offices of a multinational infotainment conglomerate, a team of executives stand frozen, staring silently, realizing that this is the moment they lost control.

June 22, 2014 at 10:27 AM  

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