What happens when intentional popular music turns to unpopular music? On Thursday morning, Afrikaans singer Dirk van der Westhuizen posted his latest video, “Supercool (Gangnam Style)”, on YouTube. The video instantly went viral when it ignited a veldfire of negative and abusive reactions on social networks, eliciting reactions like: “Possibly The Best Worst Music Video
What happens when intentional popular music turns to unpopular music?
On Thursday morning, Afrikaans singer Dirk van der Westhuizen posted his latest video, “Supercool (Gangnam Style)”, on YouTube. The video instantly went viral when it ignited a veldfire of negative and abusive reactions on social networks, eliciting reactions like:
“Possibly The Best Worst Music Video You’ll Ever See: Afrikaans Pop Heartthrob Makes Up His Own Gangnam Style”; “I want to wash my eyes out with Anti bacterial soap”; “And this is when I have a problem with the internet”; “Afrikaans music, meet rock bottom. Officially”; “What the fuck did I just watch?”; “This is the worst video mankind has ever produced”; “I have lost faith in humanity” and “Take a gun…make sure it’s loaded…taste the barrel and now pull the trigger!”
By Thursday afternoon, screenshots of Van der Westhuizen’s video was converted into countless internet “memes” – that also went viral. By Friday morning, his video had more than 30 000 hits on YouTube.
Rolling Stone got hold of Van der Westhuizen to find out more about the idea behind his song and music video, and what he makes of all the negative reaction he’s been getting.
How would you describe or categorise your latest song and music video “Super Cool (Gangnam Style)”?
I’d say it’s something different to what I have done before. I wanted something that I could see myself on stage with, that was the whole idea with the “Uithak” CD. The Gangnam Style element in the song was something suggested by my record label [Maroela Musiek]. It was done as a marketing tool.
How much input did you have in the writing process, production and execution of the song and the music video?
I wrote the song “Supercool”. [The] Gangnam Style element was suggested by my record label. The video was mostly my idea in collaboration with the company that did the production.
Give us a little insight in dealing with Psy’s record label regarding copyright.
Psy is properly credited as original writer of “Gangnam Style”.
Who’s your audience?
Anyone who enjoys my style of music.
Why do you think people reacted so strongly towards you and your music video?
The negative reaction comes from people who never would have appreciated my style of music and never would have bought the CD anyway. But I do appreciate the extra fans I got in the process. I fully understand that not everybody would like my music, I mean, you can’t win them all.
How does this wave of negative reaction affect your day?
I focus on positive feedback. I am open to the public’s opinion, as long as it’s constructive and not personal.
In other words, you’ve ignored the flood of negative and abusive comments on social networks?
I have not ignored these comments but I have chosen to focus on the positive reaction. The problem with some of these negative comments is that it’s personal and has nothing to do with the song or the video.
Do you believe that ‘any publicity is good publicity’?
As long as it’s constructive criticism.
Well, how did Van der Westhuizen’s video get to go viral on Thursday?
According to Kevin Allocca, trends manager at YouTube, videos go viral due to three common features – “tastemakers”, “creative participating communities” and “unexpectedness”.
On Thursday, some of the people who shared Van der Westhuizen’s video included Van Coke Kartel frontman Francois van Coke, aKING drummer Jaco “Snakehead” Venter, watkykjy.co.za blogger Griffin, gevaalik.com and 2oceansvibe Radio. These are all influential personalities with online social capital and following, and could therefore be seen as the “tastemakers”.
Because PSY’s “Gangnam Style” video is the biggest online video hit of the year (or of all time), Van der Westhuizen’s record label saw it best to “creatively participate” by jumping on the “Gangnam Style” bandwagon. Furthermore, Van Der Westhuizen’s video screenshots got “memed” within the communities of “tastemakers”, which sparked further runaway viral growth.
As for the “unexpectedness”? I don’t think anyone expected this – scroll down to watch the video…