We haven’t heard much lately from Marina Shifrin, the young woman who quit her Internet job in the most Internet way possible last month and spawned several parody videos in the process. That’s the cyclical nature of “viral” videos; much like a common cold, it hung out for a week or so, then was flushed out of the Internet’s immune system to make way for the next clickable moment. (She was offered a job by Queen Latifah, though.)
But what’s interesting about Shifrin’s video, which now has more than 15 million views, is that the song she was dancing to—Kanye West’s “Gone,” released in 2005 — cracked the Billboard Top 20 this week. According to Billboard, “songs showing renewed activity past their initial release cycles are eligible to chart if ranking in the top half of the Hot 100 and genre hybrid rankings.”
We’ve reached a tipping point; YouTube videos now have more influence over music sales than ever, and this is especially true since Billboard started recognizing YouTube views as criteria for legitimate chart placement. Think of the viral success of “The Fox,” which hit the Hot 100 chart in September, or Baauer’s version of the “Harlem Shake,” which made the leap from YouTube phenom to No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart earlier this year.
But Kanye West’s charting is something new. In 2013, the influence of a viral video and social media can make a song from 2005 reappear in a very different context, and a very different cultural landscape. Shifrin appropriated the song for her own message, but place Late Registration next to his latest album, Yeezus, and you see two very different Kanyes.
Alternate theory: Kanye and Jimmy Kimmel, who revealed he was behind “Worst Twerk Fail EVER” video, were both in on this “I Quit” video, their recent Twitter fight was just a ruse, and nothing on the Internet is real anymore.
Screengrab via Marina Shifrin/YouTube