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2011 has been the year of “trollgaze,” a media-agnostic genre name for those pieces of pop culture as designed for maximum Internet attention as they are pieces of art that can stand (or at least wobble) on their own. The ways to get inducted into the trollgaze pantheon are as plentiful as self-congratulatory Lil B retweets; in music alone, they can involve dropping songs chock-full of easy ways to laugh at them (extra points if you’re being dead serious about doing so), acting like an entitled punkass brat, complaining about people saying that you’re acting like an e.p.b., or somewhat ineptly playing on the already-existent prejudices possessed by critical-mass online audiences, among other things. With so many things these days vying for the masses’ increasingly divided attention, though, it’s becoming tougher and tougher to gauge whether or not a piece of cultural ephemera is actually trying to double as its social-media strategy.
To help all the overwhelmed online music consumers out there figure out if a piece of music is trollgaze or not—it’s kind of difficult!—Sound of the City is establishing The Trollgaze Index, a scientific method by which we deduce just how hard musicians are trying to play their listeners for the fool. We’ll measure on a 50-point scale; a score of 35 or more means that, yes, if you’re paying attention to the video or the song or the “viral” campaign, you—and we—have been trolled. Installment one (from, appropriately enough, an Odd Future-affiliated act that calls itself “The Internet”) after the jump.
THE ARTIST (5 points): An Odd Future offshoot. That calls itself “The Internet.” I mean… (5/5)
THE SONG (5 points): A shapeless, airy bit of R&B that’s catchy enough; it sounds inspired by looping the opening to Lykke Li’s “Little Bit” more than anything identifying as “retro” right now. Syd tha Kid has a nice, airy voice, although Left Brain’s smack-you-over-the-head-with-a-crack-pipe verse is straight-up terrible. (2/5)
THE VIDEO (5 points): Given the amusement-park setting, I was expecting something more “second base on the rollercoaster scene from Fear“ than “Afterschool Special-meets-‘Black Hole Sun'” as far as the plotline went. Drugs are bad, kids! Except when name-dropping them gets people to click on your YouTube link. (2/5)
DIVISIVENESS (5 points): As of this writing the clip has 2,469 likes and 268 dislikes on YouTube. (.5/5)
VIRALITY POTENTIAL (10 points): You’d think that the match of the terms “the internet” and “cocaine” would be disastrous on a SEO scale—I thought jokes about blow-hoovering bloggers were a thing?—and as it turns out, Google Blog Search has 2.3 million results for the pairing of the terms. That said, though, my entire first page of results is for this video. Good job, everybody. I think. (8/10)
“FUCK THE HATERS” QUOTIENT (10 points): Cool that this came out right after Left Brain got a shitload of press for getting slappy with photographers at the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans. You’d almost think it was calculated! (9/10)
BACKLASH POTENTIAL (5 points): If anyone feeling the idea of the “social contract” watches to the end of the video, they might not be all that thrilled about the fate of one-half of our adorable couple. But who has time for that these days? (2/5)
THAT EXTRA JE NE SAIS QUOI (5 points): Time to lay down my critical bias: Odd Future sucks up way too much air, largely because they’re “good for business” (i.e. getting pageviews) in a way that other less controversial-by-numbers acts aren’t. So they make me weary just on principle. That said, this song isn’t bad in a “wouldn’t skip it on shuffle” way. Surely there’ll be an edit minus Left Brain’s bit soon enough. (4/5)
TOTAL: 32.5/35. Not trollgaze; just a song. (Don’t worry, I’m just as shocked as you.)