Response, Remix, and Return: Even Old Media Gets Hit by ‘Chocolate Rain’
by David Gurney — Northwestern University
October 08, 2007 – 03:01
Viral video comes in many flavors, but one strain with persistent allure for me is the amateur music video. One of my recent favorites is Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain.” Originally posted in late April 2007, the simple, repetitive, and insistently catchy song blew up over the summer and became a major YouTube phenomenon, nearing ten million views as of the end of September 2007. The somewhat whimsical title and Zonday’s eccentric mannerisms contrast with the serious tenor of the lyrics and the weight of Zonday’s impressively deep voice to create something quite unique. Given the popularity of the song, there have been many responses offered, creating a considerable cluster of “Chocolate Rain” inspired content. Incorporated with the parodic impulse in this cluster is the largely celebratory practice of the remix. While “Chocolate Rain” shows little evidence of the slick production values that define contemporary popular music, this clip shows a recent live remixing of the song done on a popular Chicago R&B/hip-hop radio station. In an incredibly tenuous moment for the popular music industry, it seems telling that a commercial station reworks a freely available internet meme to attract listeners. Whether this remix truly foreshadows future production, marketing, and/or distribution trends is unknown, but its marriage of new and old media certainly has me thinking.