That Guy Salute: Unimpressed Girl in Greyson Chance Video
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 27, 2010
By now, you have no doubt seen or at least heard about the video of one 12 year old Greyson Michael Chance, a.k.a. Little Lord Gaga, performing Ms. Gaga’s 2009 smash “Paparazzi” on piano at some sort of sixth-grade music festival. (I feel comfortable assuming you already know about this, because I know about it, and these days it takes a long fucking time for the YouTubes to trickle down to my level.) It is of course a stunner of a performance, and Chance is obviously an incredibly musically talented individual (it’s hard enough for me just to figure out how to sing and play Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” on the guitar at the same time), as well as something of an odd duck–I imagine the number of Oklahoman middle-schoolers who believe it would be in their own best interest to perform an operatic cover of a Lady Gaga song in front of an audience of peers to be a relatively small one (and even smaller would be those whose own musical compositions included a song about an old couple taking turns dying of cancer). If he goes on to challenge The Bieb for pre-adolescent hearts and BET Awards, more power to him.
But it’s not Chance that I’m interested in for the purposes of this article. Rather, I am fascinated with his rapt audience, a cadre of young females (was Greyson the sole male representative at this music festival? Or was the church it took place in separated by gender, and an equal number of drop-jawed happened to be on the other side of the camera?) unaware of the fact that they were about to become part of music history. I hope that as much celebrity has been afforded Chance as a result of this video’s success, a fraction of it goes to the girls who helped make it happen as well. Mostly, I hope it goes to Unimpressed Girl.
The great majority of the girls in the video have at least some sort of grasp of, if not the greatness of the moment, at least the noteworthiness. They stare in awe, they smile in recognition, they whisper amongst themselves. But amidst the hubbub of the first dozen inductees into the eventually millions-strong Team Greyson, there is one girl who is just not having it. You can find her in the lower-right corner, scowl on her face, eyes perpetually ready to roll at a moment’s notice, arms (probably) folded in a stern “I’m here, but I don’t want to be here” posture. If the clip had come from 25 or r so years earlier, you probably could have convinced me that this was the video debut of a young Angela from The Office. Throughout the song, her dour expression never changes, and her only reaction to the performance is to occasionally dart her eyes to the side in a “come on, are we almost done with this yet?”-type glance. She doesn’t even appear to applaud at the end.
I greatly admire Unimpressed Girl for reflecting the reaction that I, and likely a rather large percentage of the teen population, would have had to such a performance at such an age. As a 23-year-old, I would of course listen attentively throughout and cheer wildly afterwards, because I now have a grasp of just how unusual and impressive it is for a 12-year-old to display this kind of musical skill and raw vocal talent, and feel that it deserves rewarding. But when I was 12, I would’ve spent the entire time checking my watching and looking to make eye contact with my friends so we could exchange “God, this is fucking lame” acknowledgments, and I would’ve expected my classmates to do the same if it was me up there*. Skill and talent in a performance don’t matter to you when you’re 12, all that matters is whether the dude seem cool and/or sound good when doing it. And I can’t imagine that listening to an operatic cover of “Paparazzi”–no prize of a tune to begin with, and one where stripping away all the production to get to the SONG underneath is about as good an idea as KoRn Unplugged was–is too many 12-year-olds’ idea of a good time.
So kudos to you, Unimpressed Girl. You have done a fine job of representing for the impatience and smart-assed superiority of youth. And trust me, once you get to college, you’re really going to appreciate being able to slip in to conversations at parties that it was you who provided the dissenting minority in Greyson Chance’s first steps towards worldwide adoration.