CHARTING THE NEWS

An interesting phenomenon is happening and this one falls under Chapter 6 of Futurehit.DNA which refers to more One-hit Wonders being formed and Chapter 14 about making songs viral. Back in the singles days of the 50s and 60s, novelty records were regular hits. That’s mostly been lost in the charts the last two decades. While novelty hits have been gaining in popularity (such as 2007’s “Chocolate Rain” or last year’s “United Breaks Guitars”), they have not charted. So even though arguably these song will be more remembered by kids today than actual Top 10 hits, history won’t write that story. This week, that story changed with a comedy group called Auto-Tune The News.

To catch people up, Auto-Tune The News have been creating small viral buzzes for the past year and a half by taking news stories and making songs out of them. They auto-tune politicians and celebrities and create a song around it, as the group also inserts themselves into the songs and videos. Actually pretty clever if you spend time listening to them. So clever that Comedy Central agreed to do a pilot with them.

Well they went from “cult-viral” to “mainstream-viral” in the last month with their “Bed Intruder” song.

The group took a news story about a rape and turned it into a hip-hop song. The song spread virally very fast (15 million views in 3 weeks) and already has spawned cover songs in other genres. Lest you think that the subject in question would be offended about humor coming from such a serious story, this is all authorized. The interviewee, Antoine Dodson has his own official website, merchandise and news appearances. Also, answering my first thought when I heard the song, Antoine is listed as co-author of the song and gets 50% of all the proceeds. Makes sense since he did, actually, write the lyrics.

OK…all well and good. Internet viral comedy sensation. Seen it before. Yeah, but yesterday, this one charted on the Billboard Hot 100. To my recollection, this is the first internet meme song to actually chart in Billboard. Futurehit.DNA readers know that I’ve been predicting this day for awhile now, and it’s finally arrived. So anyone who doubts that you can’t chart in Billboard without a label (major OR indie), here’s your answer.

Now, this day is historical for music chart history for many reasons:
*It signifies the official return of the novelty song (this song won’t be the last)
*It highlights the speed of popularity nowadays (as far as I can tell, the STORY didn’t exist a month ago, and now it’s a charting single)
*Internet meme songs will finally be memorialized in charts
*You don’t need radio to chart (the monitoring service Mediabase isn’t even monitoring it suggesting no radio station has played it)
*The relevance of new media is now truly reflected in traditional charts

Also worth noting, I do not believe Billboard has begun to count YouTube numbers in their Top 100 chart yet, so it charted solely from single sales. Certainly the serious musicians amongst you are bristling at the idea of needing to create a novelty hit. You don’t. You just need to be compelling, be quick and reactive (once it started to react, iTunes was selling it in less than a week), and you have to be salesmen (the YouTube clip pushes to iTunes sales. But it’s the compelling part that’s key. Make sure your song sticks out with interesting lyrics and ideas so people want to spread it virally (Chapter 14). Because now, it won’t just be known to those “in the know” online. Now it will be surfaced to traditional media sources and be legitimized.

Oh, and for those that paid attention, the song starts at zero seconds.

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