Why the world (or at least the Internet) loves Mark Gormley

Thursday, January 29, 2009

If you're not a regular on sites such as reddit.com you might not know about a certain musician located in Pensacola, Florida, that goes by the name of Mark Gormley. Nine days ago there was a thread on Reddit that received over 900 votes that you can see here; the title is SO INTENSE JUST SOOOO FUCKING INTENSE.

So what's that about? Well, it's this video:

You'll notice that the thread on Reddit was submitted to the WTF subreddit, where as the name implies, every link is something that made the submitter think...WTF is this? And to be sure, that's the first reaction one has when seeing the video. It starts out with a guy claiming that the upcoming video is super intense, when it turns out to be a video with a background that looks like something you'd see in a karaoke / norae-bang room in Japan or Korea, sung by a guy that looks like a math teacher or maybe an astronomer (note the observatory and moonbase background later in the video).

That's not the whole of it, however, which is where the sudden popularity behind this video and others lies. Taking a look at the comments you can see the following among the standard "WTF is this a joke?" comments:


I've never had such a huge disconnect between what someone looks like and what they sound like. I don't particularly care for that falsetto, it kind of sounds like what you'd hear on a bad American Idol audition. But the songwriting isn't half bad at all, really. With a better singer and better production it could be a pretty good song. My mind is reeling.

Am I the only one to think that this was actually pretty good.

I started out laughing at stupid video edits, but the song was actually pretty awesome. Way better than the bad music we get on alternative radio these days.


That song I think has some amazing potential. If Bruce Dickinson (for example) was singing that, it would totally rock


I actually quite enjoyed that song. His vocals are quite good and song, tho low quality of performance, is quite nice aswell. He should sign some indy or whatever label :)

Oh and he has a lot of courage to participate in such videos :)

...and so on. The first comment though is the most telling: it's the huge disconnect between the appearance of the singer and the video and the fact that the music is actually not that bad that people just can't get over. And in fact, some of his other songs are even better:

Mark Gormley is the exact opposite of what we're used to in music and entertainment, and this doesn't occur in just one country either. Take a look at the actors for a drama currently on air here in Korea for example:

Two questions: taking a look at the characters' faces alone, which one do you think is:

1) The evil president of the modeling agency that only cares about money?
2) The kind-hearted but kind of goofy reporter that serves as a kind of sidekick to the main characters?


Now for the answers:

1) The evil president is the guy on the left, third from the top. That's right, he's the chubbiest and least good-looking guy of the bunch so of course that makes him evil. Plus you know it's not the one just above him because that one isn't wearing a suit.
2) The kind-hearted but goofy reporter is on the top left. Of course the goofy character has glasses, but the other guy with real glasses on the left doesn't look goofy enough, so of course he's not the goofy one.

You could probably conduct tests like this with maybe about 80% accuracy for most tv shows and movies, because that's what we're used to.

Mark Gormley blows these preconceptions out of the water though, and that's what makes him so popular. He doesn't look the part at all; no one would ever guess as they walk by him on the street that he's a pretty good songwriter that has been writing and playing music since the 70s. On top of that, it's been about a decade and a half since the Internet first took off, and the population using it is now much older than it used to be, and there are probably a lot of people out there that identify pretty strongly with Mark Gormley; people that played in a band or wanted to, finished university, got a regular job, now don't look like someone that plays music or writes poetry or anything else but still hasn't changed on the inside no matter how much time has passed since then, and the fact that Mark Gormley just up and created a few videos for the music he wrote regardless of what anyone might think a musician or a video is supposed to look like is pretty amazing.

I think user robeph on Reddit.com summed it up the best, so I'll close with his comment:

You know. While I understand he's an internet celebrity, not unlike that chocolate rain guy, I actually like the music, its weird. I mean Beginings and Gray Days are awesome. I'm not sure I like little wings, it sounds like something from Tiny Tim. But everything else he's done is campy goodness. Since I hate the music industry and this guy is on his own, I'm going to buy one of his CDs.

I think most of all, I like seeing him all happy, just some old guy whos hobby turned into a small bit of happiness in his age. That's what life is made of there.


Anonymous said...

How can you write this whole thing and not talk about the video itself and its ridiculousness, and Phil Thomas Katt from Uncharted zone. The video is absurd. for me its not the way Gormley looks, its the girl and the bad cgi and the "crazy" camera angles. When i look at gray days i dont laugh because its not as crappy. I think we need to blame uncharted zone for his popularity and not his looks.

Anonymous said...

Mark Gormley justifie l'existence d'Internet; sans Internet, nous n'aurions jamais pu l'écouter!


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