At the time that I am writing this, the above video has been viewed 21,875,265 times. This doesn’t even include the millions of times that other versions have been viewed. It was featured on both Good Morning America and and the Tonight Show. According to Wikipedia, the Numa Numa Dance is the second-most watched viral video of all time, with 700 million views, losing out only to “Star Wars kid”. Granted, the song and video came out in 2004 and have been seen even more since.
So, this leads us to the questions:
- Why am I talking about this now?
- Why do I care?
Well, to answer the first, I was watching NCIS this week and the episode featured the video. So, I was thinking about it more– and the song got stuck in my head. Also, I was told a couple months ago that many in the gay community in Chile think of this as “their” song and have re-written the lyrics. Since I spent today taking part in the nationwide protest for gay rights (photos tomorrow), the song’s Chilean spin-off was a little more poignant.
The thing is, when the 700,000,000 people watched this video, most of them heard gibberish and saw a silly, laughable dance. When I hear this song, I can sing along. Not only do I know the real words, not any internet made up versions– and understand their meaning without translations–, but I have seen O-zone preform it live and understand the song’s meaning.
O-zone, you see, is a Moldovan band and the song came out while I was a Peace Corps volunteer in that country. The “gibberish” is actually Romanian, which I speak. In 2004, I attended a street festival in Chisinau, the capitol of Moldova. The city shut down a three block section of Main Street right in front of the Orthodox church near the Stefan Cel Mare statue. Vendors had food, children had balloons, and the street had a make shit stage with a fairly high-tech sound system. There was security– but not much. As we listened to O-zone and sand along, I and a group of 4 other PCVs worked our way closer to the stage. In the end, I could have reached out to touch Dan Balan, the singer. I didn’t. But I could have. And, now, millions of people know not him, not the band, but a kid from New Jersey.