Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The Story of This Viral Video Will Blow Your Mind! (Please Tell Your Friends!)

Got a song you want to turn into a smash hit on the Web?

Can’t get Apple to use it in one of their ads? Can’t get an iconic TV show to use it in the last scene of its final episode?

Then there’s always this strategy:

  • Have a huge hit song in the ’80s.
  • Get that song played in sports stadiums during time-outs two decades later.
  • Wait for some kid to dance to the song in an exuberant, can’t-believe-it’s-not-staged-and-it-could-very-well-be-staged-but-who-cares way.
  • Have a video of that kid dancing to your song go viral.
  • Wait another a few years for that same video to go viral again, lifted specifically by a Facebook-savvy tactician.
  • Presto!

Easy, right?

Ask Bon Jovi. The band’s iconic “Livin’ on a Prayer” has just re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart at No. 25, 26 years after it was a No. 1 hit. Its re-emergence is due entirely to streams of this YouTube clip, which just got a second life as a pop culture sharing-timewaster, four years after it first became a viral hit:

This is normally the part where I tell you about the provenance of the clip, but there’s frustratingly little information available to a lazy Googler.

All I can tell you is that many people on the Web believe the dancer’s name is Jeremy Fry. And that while his lip sync first became a sensation in 2009, there are other clips of him, doing the same outsized moves at Celtics games, in what appears to be the same shirt, from 2008.

I can tell you that while the clip seems to have been periodically discovered and shared throughout the last four years, its rocket ride started a few weeks ago. That’s when something called UTrend.TV re-posted it, with a Facebook-friendly headline and subhead: “What Happens When You’ve Got One Chance. This man is awesome! Somebody buy the man whatever he is drinking!”

I don’t know who works at or funds UTrend.TV, or why they decided to repost a clip uploaded by a YouTube user who has only posted two videos in the last three years.

But just like the guys at Upworthy, ViralNova and Buzzfeed, whoever works at UTrend.TV has figured out how to repackage old stuff they find on the Web in a way that makes it irresistible to Facebook passers-along. People have shared UTrend’s post on Facebook 1.7 million times so far, and have streamed the YouTube clip more than 12 million times in the last month.

I’m hazy about the way UTrend turns this into money. But on the other hand, it costs very little to run a site that re-posts popular YouTube clips. Presumably there’s a strategy here.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find some Allen Funt clips you probably haven’t seen before: “A five-year-old girl picks up the phone. What happens next will amaze you.”

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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo