Nowadays everyone with a cell phone knows about viral videos and memes. Back in April 2010, when Greyson Chance’s cover of Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi was posted on YouTube, it was a little different. Fortunately the process of the video going viral, and the consequences, are well documented. It’s a fascinating story. 13 years after it was posted, the video has 72M views on YouTube alone.
12-year-old Greyson Chance performed Paparazzi at his Edmond, Oklahoma grade school’s music festival. Chance started playing piano when he was eight & he took lessons, so he knew his way around the keyboard. Genetics & a good ear gave him a powerful melodic voice, but the intensity of his cover comes from his personality and his immersion in the fifth, and last, single from Lady Gaga’s debut LP:
Wikipedia reports that for the first 2 weeks the video had few views. On 10 May 2010, GossipBoy.ca and reddit.com embedded the video in posts. Soon the video was on ryanseacrest.com and Buzz.Feed. Later in the day the video appeared on other sites and was linked on the Twitter feeds of Ryan Seacrest, Ashton Kutcher, and Ellen DeGeneres, who was sent the link by Tanner Chance, Greyson’s older brother. On the afternoon of 11 May, Yahoo announced that Greyson Chance was booked for the Ellen Show.
The story was picked up by mainstream media including The Wall Street Journal and The LA Times. For his Ellen Show appearance, Chance pre-recorded Paparazzi & was interviewed. The interview section included a phone call from Lady Gaga. That night, Chance featured on ABC World News. Before continuing with the story of Chance’s rapid rise, here is the lead video on the home page of his YouTube Channel. Posted on 22 September 2022, and written by chance & Jason Reeves, it’s called My Dying Spirit:
Returning to the account of Greyson Chance’s ascendance, Chance returned to The Ellen Show in a show broadcast on 26 May 2010. He played an original song (Broken Hearts), was announced as the winner of Ellen’s $10,000 Wonderful Web of Wonderment contest, received a Yamaha piano, and was named as the first signing to DeGeneres’s new record company.
The rapid chain of events leading to DeGeneris forming a record company and signing Greyson Chance, led The Christian Science Monitor to investigate whether the original grade school performance video was “for real” or part of a clever advertising campaign. In an article titled “Greyson Chance: What is real in an age of media manipulation?” (18 May 2010), the publication concluded that the video was legitimate.
There is a coda to this story: In September 2022, Chance told Rolling Stone that Ellen DeGeneres was manipulative & opportunistic and he felt completely abandoned by her by the time his second album was released.
Before the 2022 Rolling Stone interview Chance released his most recent album, Palladium (23 June 2022). The second video of this article is from Palladium. On Instagram Chance has stated that the Palladium is about reckoning with his past and attempting to find peace “with everything I went through as a kid.” He later said, “I feel a tremendous weight off my shoulders now that the truth is out. I’m going to bed tonight feeling so much love and support from you all. I am ready to move forward.”
That’s quite a story isn’t it. The Music Man wishes Greyson Chance well on his musical journey. If you would like to see more from Greyson Chance, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Facebook or Instagram.