How ‘Call Me Maybe’ and Social Media Are Upending Music

From The New York Times:

For decades, the song of the summer would emerge each year following a pattern as predictable as the beach tides.

Pop radio would get it rolling before school let out, and soon the song — inevitably one with a big, playful beat and an irresistible hook — would blare from car stereos everywhere. Then came prom singalongs as the song finally became ubiquitous around the Fourth of July. In 1987, it was Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” In 2003, Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love.”

But the success of this summer’s hit, Carly Rae Jepsen’s cheerfully flirty “Call Me Maybe,” shows how much the hitmaking machine, as well as the music industry itself, has been upended by social media.

Only a year ago, the charts were dominated by stars who had come out of the old machine of radio and major-label promotion: Katy Perry, Rihanna, Adele, Maroon 5. This year’s biggest hits — “Call Me Maybe,” Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” and Fun.’s “We Are Young” — started in left field and were helped along by YouTube and Twitter before coming to the mainstream media.

For “Call Me Maybe,” which was No. 1 for nine weeks, the longest run of the year, the critical piece was YouTube. After Justin Bieber and friends posted a video of themselves lip-syncing to it in February, hundreds of fan tributes followed. Alongside Ms. Jepsen’s own video, which has been watched 212 million times, versions by Katy Perry, the Cookie Monster (“Share It Maybe”) and the United States Olympic swim team turned it into a yearlong audiovisual meme.

A tribute version even brought the song to the attention of President Obama. In an interview with KOB-FM, a New Mexico radio station, he said: “I have to admit, I’ve never actually heard the original version of the song. I saw this version where they spliced up me from a whole bunch of different speeches that I made. They kind of mashed together an Obama version of it.”

Continue reading the rest of the story on The New York Times