Trollgaze: The Music Genre That Relies on Your Likes and Reblogs
Yesterday we shared the video for the Lance Bass-sponsored boyband Heart2Heart’s debut single “Facebook Official.” It’s been all over the interwebs today, and it’s gotten a ton of views on YouTube! Is it a hit? More importantly, is this another example of a burgeoning new genre of music, recently coined as “Trollgaze”?
Village Voice music editor Maura Johnston seems to think so. She argues that the kind of music that seems, at first listen, to be a total joke might actually be a calculated and successful grab for attention, and, ultimately, a lot of money.
Whether or not HEART2HEART is serious is, of course, beside the point in a way; the song is catchy enough and the content absurd enough that “Facebook Official” is being passed around by even those sites that aren’t pop-specialist outlets, and in the current moment where record sales mean less and less because there are fewer of them happening the idea of attention as currency is ever more important. Which might be, at least in part, why this year has been defined by musical artists getting attention for being, in some way, annoying. The list runs the gamut, from Rebecca Black’s half-swallowed ode to partying on the weekends “Friday” to the insufferable “You suck, but please don’t say mean things about me” posing of young turks Kreayshawn and Tyler, The Creator to the whole Lana Del Rey mess to even that first taste of the Metallica/Lou Reed collaboration. Negative attention can help get artists out of the music-specialist ghetto and onto places like the “never saw a cheap laugh it couldn’t mine for pageviews” clearinghouse BuzzFeed, which whips the traffic ass of all but the largest music sites.
Now that the music industry has caught wind of the power of viral marketing, are the big music executives gunning for deliberately bad music performed by ridiculous and unlikely pop stars? In an age when “press” can be just a few tweets or a post on a random person’s Tumblr, it’s a conspiracy theory that could be fairly accurate. And let’s take us out of the equation for a second (because We–all of us!–are part of the problem by even participating!) and think about how this kind of entertainment, which is essentially based on the idea that there are enough people on the Internet who will mistake their own bad taste with their sense of “irony,” actually ruins the chances of actual talented musicians and performers. It’s a bad scene when you’ve got Katy Perry, who does have enough catchy and entertaining pop songs in her catalog, degrading herself not just by relying on her sex appeal to push records, but also by creating videos that are essentially four minute MadTV sketches feating Kenny G and Rebecca Black cameos.