Crystal Swing and the viral web

8 Apr 2010

I’m not going to lie to you: showband-era music gives me the creeps. I dislike the cheese: the pseudo-American crooning, the tacky outfits and the incongruity of a form of music that tries to marry the appeal of swinging jazz bands of the Fifties with rural Ireland several years after big bands have fallen out of fashion in the first place.

So why do we as a nation currently love (or love to hate) Crystal Swing? There are many answers to that, but the first lies in their online discovery and its viral nature: two teenage kids and their mother put up an amateur video of their showband tune He Drinks Tequila on YouTube. It gets hammered with hits.

Crystal Swing

Future Human

A swingin’ web success

Out of nowhere, the internet has turned this family into a pop sensation. Like Susan Boyle of Britain’s Got Talent fame this ‘zero to hero’ treatment didn’t just stop at national radio or breakfast TV but reached across the Atlantic with the result that comedian turned-
TV-presenter Ellen DeGeneres publicises them on her prime-time chat show. Eircom was also savvy enough to spot this opportunity and had Crystal Swing perform at the announcement of its next-generation network last week, with chief executive Paul O’Donovan joining them on stage for the Hucklebuck.

The internet has changed our habits forever and we have gone far past consuming content to become active contributors. I’m not just talking about people who are brave enough to dust off the keyboard and dress up their cat (if you haven’t seen ‘Keyboard Cat’ on
YouTube, go see it now) but the volume of people who view this and give home produced entertainment and cleverly mashed-up content a voice. We are shaping our own destiny – we, the public, can make or break anyone by the click of a mouse.


YouTube – one of the driving forces of the viral web

You may remember the cover from Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2006. It wasn’t Bono, Bill Gates, Bush or Brandt as it had been in the past. It was you. A mirrored sticker inside the YouTube frame had us staring at our own reflection. Thanks to the accessibility of video-hosting site YouTube, the internet enabled us all to become stars in our own right.

What becomes global on the internet is paradoxically spread in a localised manner: something a friend or colleague finds interesting is spread through word of mouth rather than the dogma of the traditional media. This is such a huge part of the web experience that there are several genres, a notable one of which is the ‘lip-dub’ viral, where people sing along to popular songs.

This was used to great effect when the dance hit Dragostea Din Tei was adopted by vodka company 42Below as a marketing tool. It originally went viral when Gary Brolsma created an amateur video for the song with nothing more than a basic webcam. Known
as the Numa Numa Dance, it has been viewed more than 35 million times on YouTube alone.

What does the viral web mean to business? It’s an inclusive way of drawing in the customer and harnessing the power of the social web. The advertiser no longer dictates the message but rather relies on the power of the herd to spread the message that appeals most to them.

By Marie Boran