ASU student's Chainsmokers parody goes viral

Digital culture student John Fassold's video compilation of snapchats parodying Chainsmokers went viral after he posted it on Reddit

Digital culture freshman John Fassold's video made it to the front page of Reddit with tens of thousands of up-votes, and then eventually was featured on Buzzfeed

The video, entitled "How EVERY Chainsmokers song is written," currently has more than four million views and over 168,000 likes on YouTube. The video has garnered attention from several other mainstream media outlets like AZ Central and The Phoenix New Times

Fassold said he never expected his parody to go viral. 

"I threw it onto Reddit initially: onto a small forum for pop music," he said. "And I figured, OK, maybe some people will like this because it's pop music. Then someone took that and shared it to a big subreddit, a bigger page."

When he woke up, the video had over 20,000 views, Fassold said.

Kimberlee Swisher, one of Fassold's professors in the digital culture program, said the formula for going viral is one part luck and another part emotional impact. She said Fassold's video may have been more impactful for two reasons: he's talented, and the short Snapchat clips get to the punchline quicker than most other parody videos.

"The research is showing that people share videos they’re emotionally connected to," Swisher said. "They’re more like to share if they video has a high emotional intensity. I think in John’s case it’s hilarious. But it’s especially hilarious to a specific audience. Getting that age group really engaged emotionally through humor is definitely key."

In the YouTube comments of the original video, many have both criticized and lauded Fassold for what they saw as a takedown of a sham artist. But Fassold said he is not coming at the Chainsmokers or pop music as a critical outsider. He said he actually loves pop music and doesn't mind listening to the Chainsmokers and other popular artists who've been widely criticized as being formulaic.

"I love pop," he said. "I'm not trying to bring down any careers or expose them. I'm just trying to talk about music in a way that's not really addressed by a lot of reviewers or (critics): the actual music side of stuff."

Fassold started learning piano when he was around five years old. He said he took lessons in classical piano for six years until quitting in the sixth grade.

He continued to study jazz, blues and music improvisation through high school. When the time came for him to choose a major in college, he knew he wanted to do something related to music, eventually settling on digital culture.

"I was undeclared for a semester, and then I really wanted to do something related to music, but I didn't want to do just music because I don't think I have the classical theory down," he said. "I kind of wanted to go into the business side, so I figured this is the best route."

Fassold said his dream is to be a music producer. 

Capitalizing on his recent success, Fassold has made a few other videos including "How EVERY Nickelback song is written" and "How EVERY Lana Del Rey song is written" as well as a full-length Chainsmokers parody song. However, he would like to take his YouTube channel further than just parody videos.

Fassold's friend and journalism freshman Marcus Chormicle said in an email that Fassold has the talent to do whatever he chooses.

"John is a very versatile musician so I'm sure he could make a video for just about any artist and it would be great," he said. "I don't really have an opinion on which direction he should take his channel. I'm sure wherever he goes from here with it will be very entertaining."

Fassold said the video won't define his future projects.  

"Don't expect me to always hate on an artist. I might do a video on people I like, but I just notice formulas and I want to talk about them. And I also might do positive videos where I talk about the good things they do. I'm not here to hate at all."

Catch more parodies and other upcoming content on Fassold's YouTube page.


Reach the reporter at parkermshea97@gmail.com or follow @laconicshamanic on Twitter.

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