Jonathan Young joined YouTube in 2012, and he has since accumulated close to 70 million views overall. On January 15th, Young released a “metal Disney villain cover” of one of Moana’s hit songs “Shiny” that has reached nearly 960 thousand views.
Here’s how he did it.
1. He paid attention to timing.
When Young released this video in January, the Moana soundtrack was topping the charts and generating tons of buzz. Picking a release date that was long enough after the movie came out ensured broad familiarity with the song, but it was not so long after that viewers lost interest. This was key to Young’s success with this video.
Watch the whole Moana trailer below.
2. He made the song all his own.
The internet is flooded with video covers of “Shiny” featuring singers with great voices against a simple musical arrangement or a cappella. Young sets himself apart by composing something completely new and different that works well with the song.
Young reaches two distinct audiences by making this choice: fans of the original song, who will recognize the lyrics, and fans of metal music, who will recognize the heavy musical style. Building cross-genre appeal is a good way to build up your audience.
Check out Young’s cover of Moana’s “You’re Welcome” here.
3. The video is dramatic, much like the original.
While the music behind the singing is very different, the overall feel is not. Both the original and Young’s cover build up a sense of drama and action for listeners. By capitalizing on the same feelings and emotions evoked by the original, Young ropes in Disney fans who can now imagine this dramatic scene in Moana with a heavy metal remix.
Watch the original “Shiny” here.
By paying close attention to timing, putting his own spin on the song, but also keeping some pieces from the fan favorite, Young created a hit that viewers could simply not ignore. Follow in his footsteps and watch your next video go viral.
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Kelsey Leaman is a senior at American University in Washington D.C. studying Economics and International Studies. She is passionate about writing, Lemonade, and Michelle Obama.