As he is wont to do, Drake took the interwebs by storm this past week with the release of the “Hotline Bling” music video, which not only featured James Turrell-inspired cinematography, but also the most gawkily cool dancing since that old guy with the crutches busted a move.
Dressed in an oversized sweater and unleashing his inner lumbersexual, Drake saunters across a dramatically lit room, pining away for a past love and dancing out his feelings. He bobs like no no one is watching, releasing his inner angst through lightly gyrating hips. Yet there is something unusual in his dance style: something unlike the usual pontificating of hip hop videos. As Sarah L. Kaufman over at The Washington Post puts it, “His dancing is anti-edge: It’s old-school, curled in, unsure. These are the ways of the tortured soul, we’re meant to think, the lonelyheart too pained to care about sharpness or chic.”
Basically, replace the insanely awesome Apple store-like room and its rotating color palette with your parent’s basement instead. Drake might as well be singing into a hair brush, paying no mind when the Nae Nae he attempts ends up looking more like a Carlton. It’s the dance of nerds: complete with unrequited love and defiant passion in the face of judgement. The “Hotline Bling” video captures the essence of uncool coolness (something Huey Lewis tried to bring to the 80s with little success). Every one of his convulsions is offbeat—which somehow leads to the magical illusion of actually being on beat with every possible song ever. The #drakealwaysonbeat meme inspired by the video, for example, shows just how versatile this particular brand of uncoolness can be, fitting every scenario from the Peanuts theme song to Bieber’s “What Do You Mean” perfectly.
But it goes beyond just loserish, introspective dance moves. As many have pointed out, “Hotline Bling”‘s sample borrows heavily from D.R.A.M.’s Caribbean tune “Cha Cha”, which, in turn, borrowed heavily from Super Mario. The very chord progression of “Hotline Bling” owes its chilled dorkiness to indoor kids, and the now indistinguishable line between “nerd” culture and pop culture.
But considering its humble roots in the chiptune melody that scored many lonely Saturday night, it only makes sense that the best “Hotline Bling” memes (which I have helpfully scattered throughout this article) derive from videogame related content. Whether it’s the Wii or Pokemon, Drake’s decidedly uncool shuffles invite everyone to embrace their inner dork.