#HashtagMusic: Are We Witnessing its Beginning or its End?
#Hashtags are probably the bane of your Twitter existence. You no doubt follow people who either use them too much or in the strangest possible ways. Chances are, you regularly do the same. #DGAF. Currently, there are two songs that begin with a #hashtag in the Top 20. it's the most 'sign o' the times' moment of #2013 so far. The concept of a song or album including the little symbol is so new that # is still one of the forbidden characters on Wikipedia, and Will.i.am's #willpower is an example of what Wiki does in the case of an article necessitating the character in its title.
When Will.i.am titled and recently released his hashtag labeled album, it seemed a totally Will.i.am thing to do -- it was befitting a living hologram. He's always been a little internet-y, so to utilize an important facet of how people communicate on one of our biggest social media tools is something we all kind of expected from him. But surprisingly, the usually lowkey Robin Thicke took a chance with some hashtag appropriation. He schooled the pop music world with his new single "Blurred Lines" that let the video take care of all his hashtagging needs by displaying trendworthy words and phrases like "#THICKE" and "#BLURREDLINES" across the frame.
Then suddenly Mariah Carey, the American Idol judge who likes to throw glitter on contestants as a sign of approval, released her shimmery single "#Beautiful" with of-the-moment artist Miguel. Unlike Will.i.am's #newtrendthirsty single "#thatPOWER," which features walking hashtag Justin Bieber, Carey uses the character on a pretty simple word that almost every Twitter user has already paired with a # at least once in their career. It forges into a preconceived and heavily mutated path pretty subtly title-wise, but is coupled with an amazing song that would've been able to trend on its own.
As this #trend inevitably blows up, how will artists decide whether or not their song is #hashtag worthy? Even bigger question: how will they use it if, in fact, they continue to. While song titles with the character seem to be the most popular, many might go the #Thicke route and keep it a subtle marketing tool in their videos. Others might become Will.i.am level ambitious and bestow it upon a single AND an album. Let's be real, it's going to get pretty annoying by August if every single song on the radio begins with '#' and we're all stuck determining "Do we say the actual word hashtag before it?" or "What's the easiest way to explain this to my grandma?" But before we get #hashtaghappy, let's break down what using the character implies.