Douglas Wolk wrote about the viral-video phenomenon known as the Numa Numa Dance—where a dude wearing headphones cut loose to the strains of Moldavian-Romanian boy band O-Zone—in 2006, and at the time he wrote that “‘Dragostea din Tei,’ not even the words but the sound of the recording, is now part of the fabric of the internet. It’s bypassed the monolithic American entertainment industry to become a standard; the very few records it’s sold in the States are accidental by-products of its actual significance, as a mechanism for amateurs to show their love without a hint of the shame that overcame their hero.” In 2008, the idea of “Dragostea” as a musical standard of sorts became even more of a reality, although Brolsma’s lonely-geek antichic was glammed up as a result. .
The revival of Brolsma’s bopping and waving was sorta-presaged by a South Park episode, of all things.
Shortly after that, the concept of Internet fame resulting in “theoretical dollars” instead of real ones became even more apparent thanks to Weezer, who tried to goad the twitchy mouth-breathers who frequent sites like Digg into caring about their music by playing a game of “remember this awesome YouTube clip from six to 24 months ago?” with their video for “Pork & Beans.” Brolsma was in the video, as were other Internet one-clip wonders like Chris Crocker. Unfortunately, pandering to people who think of the word “free” and not much else when they think of music meant the record didn’t sell much. But lots of people giggled over remembering Tay Zonday!
But these all paled to a release in late summer that cemented the actual musical contribution of “Numa Numa” to this year’s popular culture.
The T.I./Rihanna collaboration “Live Your Life”—which, when I first heard it, I pegged as a one-note Internet joke that was being released to mock people who were making fun of T.I. online—didn’t have a video where the duo sat in an office chair and behaved like morons, but it did top the charts here, and became enough of a hit in its own right that even I only referred to it as “that Numa Numa song” only about half the time. (I still prefer the original, unsurprisingly.)
And Brolsma? Well, he seems to have bounced back from the humiliation he was feeling when he talked to Wolk in 2006; he made a couple of sequel videos last year, and in October, he released an album of his own that reveals one probably unsurprising fact: Dude should definitely stick to lipsyncing.