The Viral Resurgence of Rednex’s ‘Cotton Eye Joe’


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The Viral Resurgence of Rednex’s “Cotton Eye Joe”

The Viral Resurgence of Rednex's

You’ve all heard this novelty Eurodance take on the classic country-folk hoedown – that song that frequently pops up at sociopaths’ weddings alongside ‘Macarena’ and ‘Cha Cha Slide’. And if your spleen is threatening to explode into a million fleshy pieces at the mere mention of Rednex and their 1994 one hit wonder ‘Cotton Eye Joe’, congratulations, you’ve just passed the Voight-Krampff test.

Rednex’s YouTube Record Breaker

Well, now they’re back – and more viral than ever. The party hit by Rednex, a Swedish band (yep, we were surprised too) who put themselves on sale on eBay in 2009, has inspired a viral event, which has led the band to pulverise a YouTube record. The band took to YouTube to announce that their music has received 3 billion views in 26 days, thanks to a meme that reworks their hit.

Rednex performer Pervis The Palergator (yep) said: “With 3 billion views in 26 days, we claim a world record! Do you want to beat us? Share stats.

To put those 3 billion views into context, the count is 28 times higher than that of the top music video on YouTube; 13 times greater than the leading streamed song on Spotify; and twice as high as the count for Alka Yagnik, the most viewed artist in the world.

Rednex’s song is ahead of Adele’s ‘Hello’, which was the fastest song to hit 1 billion views – in 87 days. It took ‘Hello’ 34 days to reach 500 million views. Widening the scope a bit, this year, ‘Cotten Eye Joe’ has been heard by 12% of all YouTube viewers and 4% of the world’s population.

The Meme Phenomenon Behind the Resurgence

So, how in the name of all that’s good and pure did this happen? Well, a sound called ‘Gedagedigedagedago’, which is a garbled version of the first lyric from ‘Cotton Eye Joe’, has spread across the social media platform like viral herpes. Danish singer Razi Irawani kicked off the trend last year, when his video went viral on TikTok. However, the song went viral again this year thanks to a chicken nugget and wing singing the song (we’re not making this up, pinky promise), which has garnered 23 million views.

Check it out – we dare you: Pat Reiniz – Rednex founder and ‘Cotten Eye Joe’ producer – said of the trend: “A paradigm shift is happening where we’re asking: how is music success best measured?

“This event was created thanks to millions of video creators generating billions of fragmented plays of Rednex’s music, rather than as a result of the traditional way of listening,” added Reiniz. “It will be a challenge for the music industry to reflect these various counts in charts and measurements and even poses the question, ‘Is the basic use and concept of music itself changing?’” Food for thought. (No one mention nuggets.)

The explosive growth of YouTube Shorts is partly to blame, as is nostalgia for the 90s and the vast number of Gen Z streamers who are now being introduced to classic songs for the first time. And good for Rednex – even if we can think of a few more forgotten 90s hits we’d love to see (and hear) get a viral renaissance.

  • Ini Kamoze’s ‘Hotstepper’ or OMC’s ‘How Bizarre’ could be contenders.
  • Babylon Zoo’s ‘Spaceman’ would be a great shout.
  • ‘You Get What You Give’ by New Radicals was a good one.

Our top spot, however, goes to British band Cornershop’s ‘Brimful of Asha’ (Norman Cook Mix). That surprise 1997 hit, inspired by film culture in India and a tribute to Bollywood actress Asha Bhosle, deserves a revival courtesy of YouTube. For your consideration, dear readers and listeners.

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