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’s 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.