Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Why this kolaveri di

The title of the post is simply to substantiate to Gils , Zeno and other  experts that I am "tuned in" ! In case you are still flummoxed, then that is clear proof that you simply aren't up to date with the "in thing" !! Why this kolaveri di is a completely nonsensical song that for reasons totally baffling has become a massive rage and has gone viral in the last four days. Since world success these days is measured in terms of number of views in YouTube (1.8 million in 4 days and rising by the minute) and insane numbers of Tweets,  Facebook mentions and likes ; it can be conclusively established as a massive hit. I am reliably told that it is competing with another equally baffling entity called Lady Gaga for global leadership.

The song is in "Tanglish" - the curious mixture of Tamil and English which is widely spoken in Madras. It is from a forthcoming movie called 3 (zero marks for creativity in naming a movie). The lyrics are complete nonsense and there is virtually no reason why it should appeal to anybody. And yet it is a hit in four days. WHY ????

This is the mystery of success in consumer marketing. No amount of consumer insight or market research will tell you why something will succeed while a similar thing bombs. The consumer continues to be an indescribable mystery. Many pundits will write treatises on why it succeeded, but after the event. Only a rare genius such as Steve Jobs, could confidently predict success, and get it right. That's why he is so highly feted.

Can anybody tell me why Justin Bieber's Baby should have more than half a billion views on YouTube (the kid can't sing for Gods sake).  And why Charlie Bit my Finger was long reining as the top watched video of all time and even now is a respectable 6th with some 400 million views. Or for that matter, why a yucky tasting syrup, developed as a patented quack medicine for  morphine addiction, dyspepsia and impotence should become the largest consumed drink in the world for 100 years.

Who can fathom the mind of Rajalakshmi, Wang Xiao or Jane Doe ?


  1. I was skeptical when quite a few of my friends (well respected, serious types) updated FB with WTKKD as their status. Watched, bowled over, flummoxed, wondered if I had really lost my balance in actually LIKING this song.(For one who listens to serious rock-jazz from the likes of master musicians like Steely Dan, Stan Getz, Satriani, Coltrane,et al, even tolerating this is blasphemy) The song grows on you - perhaps the Tanglish, the earthy rhythm or the impromptu jam session,almost a carefree slacker image projected by the singer/composer, whatever it is, this song really catches your eye (very favourably!)

  2. Have to agree that i least expected a post from you on this! I was expecting a tribute to John Smale! You writing about kolaveri is a testimony to the effect of kolaveri rather than you being tuned in ;) ;)

    Just in case you dint know, Lady Gaga is already a case study in HBS and the day of kolaveri being a case study is not so far :)[May be you should write one, I can help :) :)]

    Apparently it did have some help in going viral.A company called Jack in the box seeded and popularized it.

    It is an hit because, it is about unreciprocated love and it is an universal theme. They also had subtitles in english which i think made an huge difference. [Some how cannot accept people calling it nonsense ;)] May be cause i have ever heard and seen people conversing that way :P :D I also happen to think it has some profound intense meaning that connects with you deep inside the bottom of the heart!

    According to the Music director, the tune was composed in ten minutes and the song was sung in twenty minutes. It was never even penned down on paper![I would say it is very much possible]

    More details here

    Malcolm Gladwell has said, the real genius of Steve Jobs was (nothing but) tweaking! Some how he convinces me and i do agree with him. If you look at Steve Jobs as a tweaker it explains why he was not successful in redefining television.

    Coming back to kolaveri, MTV India will telecast only kolaveri tomorrow all day! what a kolaveri saar [Well for the past two days i have been listening to nothing but kolaveri]

  3. Saar, See you made Zeno write a kolaveri post in his comment, listing the innards of its appeal in spite of seemingly nonsensical lyrics. Now you need to loop this song again in your player and clue on to other similar songs to get the "Gen Now" alignment.

  4. Wall Street Journal has a news item on WTKKKD!! I'm sure you will have a report from the Beeb as well

  5. @kiwi
    Are u referring to this

    More info on kolaveri here :),why-this-8216why-this-kolaveri-di8217.aspx

  6. First of all, a big thanks to you for letting me know what Kolaveri di meant and then to zeno for his expert opinion. Have been reading the title of your post in newspaper and media over past few days but now i know what it was. And boy, am I bowled over? Yes. Looks completely natural, practical and hilarious at the same time. Forgot to take the note of lyrics altogether. No wonder such a huge rage!

    On the theme of your post, yes, it is quite true that sometimes the best are not the most popular ones. Honestly, I felt that Jai Ho was not the best that AR Rahman produced. Now this makes me happy that I am not into consumer marketing :)

  7. Just posted Kolaveri on my Facebook and I com here and see this post!:) I loved Dhanush's smile :) And Shruti hassan looks gorgeous too :)

    What appealed to me was the rawness in the song :)

  8. An exchange student at school played this for me on Monday afternoon. He thought it was very catchy. The poor kid needs help - like a LOT of it. Of course, I thought it was pretty trashy, but then again, I think that a lot of what goes viral today is trashy. If a kid (i.e. Justin Bieber) singing cover versions of unremarkable songs can land him a recording contract, I don't see why something like this cannot go viral. How cool would it be if we could actually make "quality music" go viral?

  9. @zeno - Ah I am completely gobsmacked. I thought none in this blog's audience would have even heard of John Smale. Thanks for the detailed education on kolaveri which , of course, I knew nothing about.

    @RamMmm - Yessir, Shall do. Still I don't think I have any chance of aligning with Gen Now.

    @zeno again - Thanks for the links. Well well, it just shows you the stuff of WSJ - not my favourite paper.

    @Vishal - At this rate, you might even start speaking Tanglish :):)

    @Preeti - I now know that I do not have an ounce of creativity in me. What is a "raw" song ?? :):):):)

  10. hahahaha....i wanted to post on this kolaveri song..aana unga blog was the last place i thot i wud find it :D:D :D thalai..u once again prove..verstality is not just ur middle name..but u stand as its case reference too :D kolaveri song poatu gen next ku leapiteenga ok..antha pada heroine pathi oru vaartha sollunga paapom :D :D :D

  11. Oorula ethoo natukuthu polanu, youtube click panna apuram therinchathu,kolaveri is very catchy. pattu ketathuke posta, ungaluku first day first show ticket anupuroom, apuram enna eluthireenganu paakalaam.
    Unmaya solunga yarukum theriyama pata rasichinga thaane.

    (break the formula if your instinct says it right thats the formula for marketing success)

  12. Thanks for the inspiring words, Ramesh... :):) it has been my long standing resolution to learn a third language properly. 4 years on, I still garner a hope that I will definitely learn rather simplistic Punjabi language one day.

  13. @Pranav - Wow - it has gone really viral if you have already heard it. What has the world come to !!!!

    @gils - romba kulunthu pochu after reading Cinema Mannar's comment. Heroine lan kekkathenga manna - no clue :)

    @Venkat - Ha ha. Much honoured by first show ticket offer.

  14. Hamara Pass Google hai. I was not aware of him until he passed away recently :):)

  15. Ramesh: Your blog is too 'safe, censored and proper' a place for creative types like me to explain 'rawness' ;-) :-) :-)

    Aaaaaah these Plebians! * rolls eyes dramatically and runs away with arms flailing in the air*

  16. @Preeti - Ha Ha, Touche ma'am :)

  17. Anonymous24/11/11

    recently I heard a carnatic version of the song (in ragam Shubhapantuvarali)..made the GGM listen to it and her reaction was much rolling of the eyes and her "kalikalam vandachu" statement.

    This said, I loved the song, like the TMM observes, it sort of grows on you..

    Lovely post and I did a double take when I saw the title.


  18. Thanks to media, now this WTKKD will easily touch 3M views in youtube. Highlight of this song is when NDTV played the song alongside the havoc created by the opposition parties in the parliament yesterday, such an impact.

    Some times effortless output also pays and this song belongs to that category. I am sure Rahman would have put his heart/mind/effort to get K Balachander/Mani Ratnam to listen to "chinna chinna aasai" and got booked as a musician for "Roja". But WTKKD will book Aswin Ravichander (Music composor of this song) a place for now in the industry.

    "Appadi Podu Podu, Ippadi Podu Podu" Kannale...

  19. @AJCL - YIPPPEEEEE YAYYYY ; great to see your comment. Eeeks ; has somebody already made a Carnatic version of this ?????

    @Connecter - OH no doubt at all - Millions of views and trillions of views written about it. Perfect example of the consumer's mind being a complete mystery. What will succeed in the market place is so tough the predict.

  20. Anonymous24/11/11

    @ramesh- yeah,couldn't bear to hear more than a couple of seconds.. can't find the link anymore, else would have posted here.

  21. ha ha... teh last thing i expected to read in ur blog was a post on "kolaveri"... teme abt it... i din like it either, and one of my friends say - its the youth anthem, and i shd like it... what nonsense.... luckily, if a few of my friends, or shd i say most of 'em liked, few didn't either... i was luckily saved... i have no idea y ppl have made such a hype... there is even a video were few of hte japanese ppl are dancing for this song... madness? i think so ;) :D

  22. Here is the carnatic version link :)

  23. @sulo - He He


  24. Oh No! Where did my comment go!! Anyways,the most important part of my comment was a link to some new found/ experimental music. I wished these got viral too, but like you said, who can get into the minds of Ramamrithams, Li Tangs and Mr. Joe! ;-)

    (there are some more fabulous jams on Coke Studio Pakistan, I gave up on current indian musicians (barring AR Rehman) after listening to these sounds)

  25. Sandhya Sriram25/11/11

    First thing is that

    I second GILs. Yet another feather in the cap of the versatality genius. the only thing that i always thought you could never ever write about and you proved us all wrong even here.

    You know what, i read this post on my mobile three days back but because my mobile couldnt connect to the you tube link, and frankly i hadnt heard about this song before i waited until i hear the song before i comment. I agree that i really didnt like the song, but maybe it is the song or the effect of the post, i have been involutarily humming it since morning ;-)

    isnt this post similar to your previous post. what breaks clutter? and anything that is different definitely breaks clutter. isnt the fact that the song could motivate "The Ramesh" who is normally miles away from kollywood write a post about it an indicator that it has been successful. whether positive or negative is something that i pass for the time being :-)

    Of course, the last piece is something inspired by another great personality, some one who both of us venerate and the only person ever on earth who would score a mild shade above Ramesh if i can say that

    Clicks on Facebook and twitter is vanity, realizing that all success is point in time unless repeatable is sanity and the actual money it has cashed in for the producer is reality :-)

    here is a little sandhya's twist - isnt all three required for business. else what is the fun - what say Ramesh?

  26. @Deepa - Oops what happened. Your comment didn't go to spam (Blogger will be massacred if it inadvertently did that). Touche on Li Tang et al :) Oh yes, Pakistani music is delightful. As indeed their media, especially The Dawn.

    @Sandhya - Haha . Beautiful comment. Humour interspersed with nice observations, packaged in typical Sandhya style. Totally agree on your insight of Facebook likes etc being a form of vanity.

  27. He,,he...I can picturise you cringing at this song!!
    I listened to it a few days back on fB and instantly clicked the 'Like ' ( And I don't think it has anything to do with vanity ) button. As most commenters here have said, the tune is catchy and 'raw'...and you cant help humming it atleast once..
    So, why this kolla veri on 'WTKKKD' ji?

    Btw, the name of the movie may have a logic -- guess movie has a great heroine personified/named 'Nela' = moon = moon u (tanglish) = 3

  28. @hema - That is some involved logic on the name of the movie !!!!!

  29. sema massive hit of this year :)

    Breaking all records on indian music albums

  30. Hahahaaahaha.....remind me never to put Biju & you in a room together...he practically breaks out in a rash when he hears it whereas I never liked or dislike it but I could understand why it 'clicked';-D

  31. @Reflections - I really look forward to meeting Biju !

  32. Guess what, I sort of like the song now...u have to admit it, it kinda grows on u;-D

    Ramesh I was thinking....what the heck...its just a song after all, catchy n all, lets just enjoy it.

    Alright, alright keep ur hat on I'm leaving, i'm leaving;-D

  33. @Reflections - Me imagining N doing her version of Kolaveri, perhaps with a jig and thats a wonderful way to start a day :):)

  34. Oh yeah the kolaveri di, its definitely catchy n i loved the way dhanush sang it like he was a trained classical singer, funny in itself...more than the song i think its famous coz he was Rajnikanth's son-in-law..and also things become famous based on who is sharing/liking it...if Steve Jobs had shared this, it would have beaten Lady Gaga by now...

  35. @Rads - Well; who can fathom why something becomes a hit. Can anybody explain why Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber are so much followed ??


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