Column by Annelise Tarnowski
A South Korean pop (K-pop) group called Waveya stars in a music video that consists of them twerking to Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony (Symphony No. 9 Allegro con fuoco).
The production group, B-Classic, is based in Germany. The goal was to push classical music into the minds of the young and musically interested (and eventually the average person).
To do this, they wanted to remove the classical music from its context. And they have.
Now, something like this has been done before. Hip-hop started to implement classical elements and actually has been sampling famous pieces for a long time.
In fact, right this moment, Red Bull is hosting the Flying Bach tour. This is a series of breakdance performances set to classical music, usually with a hip-hop twist.
The tour reaches classical fans and breakdance fans alike, both eager to see what the mixture has in store.
Another reason the company wanted to make this video was to show the accessibility of classical music.
They wanted people to watch this video and then start doing searches for other Dvořák pieces. Classical music is at least a genre everyone has had some exposure to, and maybe understands, although are maybe not actively seeking it out.
I’m willing to bet most people have an easier time naming a classical composer than they do the lead singer of a garage crunkcore group.
But let’s go back. The producers explicitly said their intention is to remove classical music from it’s context.
The piece is called “From the New World,” and because K-pop is the genre that is coming from, what they consider to be, the new world, this was the route they chose.
They actively looked for popular clichés and ended up here. I think, while people will hopefully be able to realize and remember that this music is 100 years old, the context of the piece needs to start in tact.
This kind of pairing of twerking and classical feels wrong.
How does this video succeed? In helping the public understand the ridiculousness that comes with explicit marketing like this. By fusing the the two spaces (the classical and the American dance trend) a kind of ridiculousness forms.
You start to see that their intention (to make Dvořák as popular as Miley Cyrus) is far off, and instead makes them look kind of funny.
Unfortunately, the video has over a million views within the last couple days.
Maybe the ridiculousness will make people who didn’t care before want to protect classical music from further degradation? Or maybe people will just show their friends and then forget about it the next day.
If these producers are attempting to reach a younger audience, they’ll likely do the latter.
Tarnowski is a junior radio/TV producing and sociology double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org