Sometime in 2004 Gary Brolsma saw a Japanese Internet video clip that featured animated ASCII cats displaying amusing lyrics to the song, “Ma Ya Hi (Dragostea Din Tei)” by Romanian pop band O-Zone. After filming his own version with him dancing in front of his computer he uploaded it onto the net and it became one of the most downloaded videos on the internet. In Nov 2006 the Viral marketing company, The Viral Factory, collated page impression figures from websites such as YouTube and Google Videos. They determined that this video as of Nov 2006 had been viewed 700 million times.
The Numa Numa (or “Numa Numa Dance”) gets its name from the chorus of the Dragostea din tei track, “nu mă, nu mă iei,” meaning, roughly, “(you) won’t take, won’t take me.” The video caught the ear of one Japanese Internet User, Ikari, who created his own video for the song. Using an animation that looks like a popular Japanese ASCII cat named Monā Ikari created a video which used English and Japanese Mondegreens or words that sound the closest to the original Romanian lyrics. It was this video and its concept that captured Gary’s imagination.
Gary Brolsma (born January 14, 1986) is a resident of the state of New Jersey, USA. One of his teachers, Susan Sommer, described him as quiet but was good with technology, “Whenever there were computer problems, Gary … would fix them for the school,”
Around Nov 2004, Gary was facing some depression after the death of his father, and he used his Web cam to film himself lip-syncing in an effort to lift his spirts. The video was meant to amuse himself and a few friends. But within weeks Internet users charmed by the innocence and ebullience of Brolsma’s performance spread the video around the world. Brolsma became an unintentional icon of the viral video phenomenon after uploading his “Numa Numa Dance” on the Newgrounds site on December 6, 2004, where it has since been seen over 13 million times. Since it was uploaded the video has been reproduced on hundreds of other websites and blogs.
When asked about making the video Gary had this to say:
It only took one take and about 15 minutes to put all together. A lot of people ask me if I planned the video out or took multiple tries with it. The real answer is… no. A week or so after I finished the video, I decided to throw it up on Newgrounds.com just for the heck of it, thinking it would get blammed (automatically deleted for a low scoring video). Little did I know it would explode in the views, and would touch so many people.
Not happy with just one version Gary also created some tweaked variants of the video since it became popular. One version also contains some puns, among them pictures of “feta cheese” during the lyric “fericirea” (“happiness”) and a LEGO representation of Bob Ross during the singer’s words: “sunt eu, Picasso” (“it’s me, Picasso”). Other third party versions include a “Showdown,” between him and a German Kid getting angry at his computer. The video also had a brief cameo by the Star Wars Kid.
As his video spread throughout the world the fame hit hard. He made appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s The Tonight Show and VH1’s Best Week Ever, but then became uncomfortable with the amount of attention. According to The New York Times, he was an “unwilling and embarrassed Web celebrity.” He stopped taking phone calls from the media; he canceled an appearance on NBC’s Today Show on February 17, 2005; and he did not cooperate with The New York Times for their February 26, 2005 article about him.
Since then Gary has come to terms with his celebrity even releasing a New Numa video which was released on September 8, 2006, on Newgrounds, and promoted on a dedicated website, NewNuma.com. This was an unexpected move, though one which he had been urged to make by fans of his original video. The video was produced by Experience Studios (Seattle, WA). It features Brolsma and his garage band, The Nowadays, lip-syncing and dancing to New Numa. The song is a repeated Russian children’s rhyme and performed in heavily accented and barely understandable Russian by Chad Russell, a singer/songwriter from Fridley, MN, for producer and DJ, Variety Beats, on the BeLive label.
Dragostea din tei
Dragostea din tei (pronounced /ˈdra.gos.te̯a din tej/) was the most successful single by O-Zone a band originally from Moldova, but which launched in Romania. The original version was sung by Dan Bălan, Arsenie Todiraş and Radu Sârbu. The single was first released in 2003 in Romania, where the group lived and produced at that time, and in the spring of 2004 in most other European countries. As of 2006, the song is still in the lower reaches of some Eastern European singles charts. It was written and produced by Dan Bălan (who wrote most of the group’s songs), and was one of 2004’s most successful summer hits, as well as one of the best selling singles of the year across Europe. Tradegy struck when in 2005 the group split up. All of the members went their separate ways and started their own solo careers.