Category Archives: j202

Blog posts specifically for Journalism 202.

The Unfortunate and Ubiquitous Success of Rebecca Black, Viral Sensation

I don’t even know where to begin with this one.

First of all, here’s the video in all its pre-teen “glory”:

If you make it at least a minute into that video, congratulations. If you couldn’t make it to the chorus, here’s a sample of some of Black’s lyrical genius (I wish sarcasm could translate well through text):

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

Not only do Black’s lyrics sound like a stream of consciousness from a 6th grader, but she lacks any form of vocal talent whatsoever. According to The Vancouver Sun, Black is a “younger, prettier version of William Hung.”

And why is a 13-year-old cruising the town with friends? None of you are even old enough to have your learner’s permit, let alone a real driver’s license.

Anyway, enough with the jabs (for now), and on to the real analysis. One has to wonder where this train wreck came from.

Well, it appears to me that there are two options; two places from which society grabs all of its tween “talent”: YouTube or the Disney Channel.

There is no way Black is a “double-threat” (actor/singer combination) as most Disney Channel stars are – or wish to become, rather. Yep, Rebecca Black is just a Youtube sensation.

Black is a stellar example of how social media can really elevate someone’s  career – or just make them a temporary viral sensation.

Side note: as soon as I typed that sentence, I checked my Twitter (typical) and found this article posted by @mashable. I can only hope some real talent comes out of it…

Twitter and Facebook are great for sharing – or collectively making fun of – videos, pictures, etc. I first saw the video for “Friday” in my Facebook news feed, posted by one of my friends. After that, I saw it everywhere. The following day, I had at least four friends send me the link for the video or ask if I’ve seen it yet. I even saw someone post an equally awful video with reference to “Friday.”

When I last checked, “Rebecca Black” was trending #4 in the U.S. on Twitter – clearly a hot topic. I expected it to also be one of the most viewed videos on YouTube, but apparently 9,332,311 views isn’t enough!

Another side note: one person linked the video in my Facebook news feed in the past 10 minutes and comedian Bo Burnham (one of the few people whose tweets I actually get sent to my phone) tweeted:

Although YouTube has been good at elevating young stars as of late (Justin Bieber) it seems that the music only appeals to “tweens.” However, I hope even tweens don’t take “Friday” seriously.

My advice to you, Rebecca Black? Don’t quit your day job – the eighth grade.


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Girl Talk Promotions

In an effort to break up the monotony that my blog has become, I’ll be writing about something a little different this week.

I’ve been a music fan my whole life. I was raised listening to almost everything – from The Four Tops to Edwin McCain to Hall and Oates. My tastes have evolved through the years (although I still love listening to the aforementioned artists) and I enjoy a little hip-hop or trashy dance music now and then.

So it comes as no surprise that in the past couple years I’ve become a huge fan of mashup music – songs created from blends of other songs, especially “oldies” and hip-hop or pop. The end product is usually quite danceable.

Arguably the most popular mashup DJ is Girl Talk (actually Gregg Gillis), and he will be performing in Madison tonight (3/7/11) at the Alliant Energy Center in what’s bound to be a killer show. The show, which is tied to The Majestic, has been promoted by The Daily Cardinal, one of the student-run newspapers at the University of Wisconsin (and the one I have written for).

I’d like to take a look at how the concert has been promoted by The Daily Cardinal.

For at least the past month, and even during fall semester, I have seen posters all around Madison advertising the event. This is the image that has been used for promotions:

The Daily Cardinal has run advertisements in the paper and Editor-in-chief Emma Roller wrote a quick bit about her experience at the last Girl Talk show at UW on the Daily Cardinal Spring Event Calendar. I also found it funny that there was a sidebar on the page with the poster image advertising the show.

I was surprised that no one from the Daily Cardinal Arts section had previewed the show, however. I’m sure they will have a piece out after the concert.

One thing The Daily Cardinal did right was use Twitter as a form of promotion. Not only did the DC tweet about how to get tickets and promise it would be a show not to miss, it made a fun game out of it all. The Majestic provided the DC with a few sets of tickets to the show, and encouraged follower participation in exchange for two tickets to the show.

The Daily Cardinal gave tickets to: the first one to tweet @dailycardinal using the hashtag #GIRLTALK, the follower who came up with the most creative idea for a mashup, the follower with the most creative favorite Charlie Sheen catchphrase, and the follower with hardest midterm outlook for this coming week.

After the event, Daily Cardinal Arts section had a quick recap of the event, but no pictures which disappointed me. For photos of the event, check out my friend Mark Kauzlarich’s page. He was front and center photographing the event (lucky duck).

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Music + Social Media Case Study: Okkervil River

Case Study: Okkervil River

(as of 2/28/11 2:56 p.m.):

Facebook fans: 14,232

MySpace friends: 36,675

Twitter followers: 5,766



I absolutely approve of Okkervil River’s use of Facebook. They have all (albeit sparse amounts) of the normal band stuff posted, like website (no links to MySpace or Twitter pages, though. Boo.), photos, events and discography.

What’s unique (and what I like) is their approach to posts. They have a smaller following – at least smaller than more mainstream artists – and are personal in their posts. They post about concerts and songs like most artists, but some of the posts are about unreleased tracks or quiet, “intimate” shows that weren’t previously advertised. It’s also cool to see posts about the band appearing on talk shows and gaining new fans!

Okkervil also uses humor in their posts, which we can all appreciate! I personally like this one:

This vocal mic I’m borrowing is roughly 1/8th the size of my whole apartment. I’m thinking of using it as a new kitchen table.

One thing I would suggest to Okkervil River is to add more shows to this page! I don’t know if they just rarely update it or if they aren’t touring – in which case, they should get on that. I want to see them live!

3/1/11 update: Okkervil River updated their page to include many more tour dates (of course, the day after I analyze their page)! Unfortunately, none in Wisconsin…


Facebook page grade: A- Facebook page grade: 80 percent


Okkervil River’s MySpace one-ups their Facebook page but is less personal and more “standard.” The page features everything that was on their Facebook page plus a nice little bio (which I always enjoy reading), a music player, videos, a blog (which doesn’t appear to be updated often) and a layout which reads “I Am Very Far – the new album, available May 10.”

The page is strong, but lacks the personal touch and humor that I know Okkervil has hiding under its bearded, indie exterior.

MySpace page grade: A-



If social media worlds could collide and form one giant TwiceSpace (my combination of Twitter, Facebook and MySpace), Okkervil River might just reign over that kingdom.

Okkervil’s Twitter page is great, and definitely the most personal of their three social media pages. The band tweets funny occurrences and observations, such as:

So let me get this straight, all Steely Dan songs are about drug dealers, right? #excepttheonesaboutunderagesex


I love how Lady Antebellum’s harmonies & band name evoke a magical bygone time when you could own people.

The band also uses Twitter as an informal, 140-character-or-less, tour blog. They will check in with followers about stops at airports, etc. (and usually make some silly comments).

Here’s an example:

Riding on the airport shuttle from Prescott to PHX. The driver & his friend are discussing Jesus, Costco, divorces, & “The Waffle Skillet.”

One thing on the Twitter page that really made me “feel the love” was a shout out to none other than my love, and America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin. The band tweeted this in response to the peaceful protests of the budget repair bill proposed by Scott Walker:

It’s so great to hear some police have joined the protestors in#Wisconsin. Literally the only non-horrible thing I’ve heard all day.

The band has posted other politically-charged tweets as well, which helps develop their brand as a funny, but also political, indie band.!/okkervilriver


Twitter page grade: A Twitter page grade: 100 percent


Okkervil River’s overall social media grade: A-

For a smaller band that likely doesn’t have the PR/marketing/media teams that an act like Lady Gaga has, Okkervil River does a surprisingly good job at establishing their brand on their social media websites. They would do well to include show updates on their Twitter page and more personal updates on their MySpace page just to make their brand on each site more well-rounded.

I’ll leave you with my favorite song by this band…enjoy!

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Music + Social Media Case Study: Lady Gaga

Case Study: Lady Gaga

(as of 2/21/11 11:20 a.m.):

Facebook fans: 28, 707, 689

MySpace friends: 1,484,587

Twitter followers: 8,345,518



Facebook “stalking” certainly suffices for those of us that can’t be real-life Paparazzi for Gaga.  There’s more than enough of her to go around on her Facebook page, which has a detailed Gaga bio, 12 music videos linked from her YouTube account, newsletter signup, 44 upcoming concerts, a merchandise/store section, a music player, notes from “Mother Monster” herself (933 of them), photo albums, a discography and a discussion board for the “little monsters” (Gaga fans) to interact.

Seeing as she is one of the biggest names in music, it is to be expected that her Facebook page is immaculate (I’m sure her PR team keeps busy).

One thing Gaga does that I’d like to see more of is link to fan videos. Gaga develops a close relationship with her fans (see Twitter section) but it could be more apparent on her Facebook page.

Facebook page grade: A Facebook page grade: 100 percent


Mother Monster’s MySpace page is just as great as her Facebook. Everything else is pretty standard – music player, photo albums, videos, shows, blog (which isn’t personally written by Gaga), Twitter stream and space for comments by fans. The edge her MySpace page has over Facebook is the creativity – her background is the artwork from her latest single, “Born this Way.” However, she has a little over 19 times the amount of Facebook fans than MySpace friends, so the difference isn’t that effective.

MySpace page grade: A



I admire Gaga’s use of Twitter. Her tweets are personal and meaningful to her and her fans. What she does best on Twitter is interact with her “little monsters.” She asks her fans to trend topics, for instance, those relating to her single “Born This Way,” released on 2/11/11 (‘BornThisWayFriday’ was trending before the single was released). Lady Gaga widens her fan base by trending topics that can be seen by all Twitter followers. She develops her image as a mother figure to her “little monsters” and strengthens this relationship to her fans through connecting on Twitter.

Although she does this extremely well, she doesn’t do much advertising as far as concerts or appearances. She uses Twitter as a personal outlet, not an advertising outlet.

Side note: Lady Gaga has over 1.5 million more followers than Barack Obama and over 850,000 more than Justin Bieber. All I have to say is WOW.!/ladygaga

Twitter page grade: A- Twitter page grade: 100 percent


Lady Gaga’s overall social media grade: A

Gaga (and her PR team) utilizes all three main social media outlets. Her use of Twitter is much more personal than that of MySpace or Facebook, which are more informational and interactive (videos, music players). I don’t have any complaints about these three sites…I mean, she’s obviously doing right if she’s surpassed Obama and Bieber in number of followers… :)

That’s it, folks. There’s nothing else I can say (eh, eh) (Sorry for all the bad Gaga puns)


2/28/11 update: #bornthiswaymusicvideo is trending. Gotta love Gaga’s presence on Twitter…


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Music + Social Media Case Study: Andrew Bird

As I mentioned in my ‘About Me’ section, I will be using this blog to explore how musicians use social media, and whether their uses are effective.

Case Study: Andrew Bird

(as of 2/15/11 5:30 p.m.):

Facebook fans: 148,291

MySpace friends: 89,253

Twitter followers: 24,579



Andrew Bird’s Facebook page is pretty average. His posts are mainly about his shows, with a few about his albums as well. He sprinkles in the occasional post urging his fans to get out and vote, or a post about a compilation CD that includes one of his tracks.

He has some basic information listed that includes: band members, record labels, various contacts, his website (, and a link to his Twitter page.

It’s interesting to note that he doesn’t post a link to his MySpace page – Facebook and MySpace serve similar functions – but he links his Twitter. Hmm…

There are infinitely many fan posts, as is the case of any musician with a Facebook page.

He also employs an external application, BandPage, which has a music player (Bird uploaded four tracks), upcoming events and an integrated Twitter feed.

Facebook page grade: B

(2/17 update) Facebook page grade: 94 percent


The whistling troubadour’s MySpace page is quite filled out. He has multiple photo albums, 136 songs available for purchase, eight videos, upcoming shows, a blog feed, a “stream” that includes Twitter updates and other posts, and a comments box for fans.

However, the design leaves something to be desired, as he has a very plain gray background.

MySpace page grade: A-


Bird’s Twitter page is pretty bare-bones. An extreme majority of his tweets are about his concerts, or tickets to sold-out shows. His Facebook and Twitter are linked so the posts are the same. Yay for synchronization of social media!

Bird has only tweeted 136 times, and his tweets are about one month apart.

One thing I liked about his Twitter page is that he follows many of the people that follow him. He is following 6,470 people, myself included! It really gives a sense of thankfulness for fans. Many artists don’t follow that many people (I know Kanye West was only following Justin Bieber for a while), so this is nice to see.!/andrewbird

Twitter page grade: C+

(2/17 update) Twitter page grade: 100 percent

Andrew Bird’s overall social media grade: B

Bird uses all three of the social media outlets that I explore, but hasn’t mastered Twitter quite yet. His MySpace page is the strongest by far.

Bird’s social media use isn’t very personal, but with a little more fan interaction he might gather more followers in these outlets and keep fans more interested.

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