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Mason Ramsey: From viral meme to music sensation

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Mason Ramsey has become an internet hit

Mason Ramsey has become an internet hit

Photo by @lilhankwilliams on Instagram

Photo by @lilhankwilliams on Instagram

Mason Ramsey has become an internet hit

Eve Crandall and Lucy Gretsky

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When we first heard that 11-year-old Mason Ramsey (aka the yodeling Walmart boy) was releasing a single called “Famous,” we were expecting lyrics that reflect on what it’s like to become an overnight social media sensation. The song’s opening lines, “Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty cool to be on TV /So all the folks back home can see me” also seem to indicate that Ramsey will be discussing his quick rise to fame.

But the song quickly shifts gears as he sings: “If I’m gonna be famous for something / I wanna be famous for loving you.” In a welcome surprise, Ramsey veers away from lyrics that tell the story of his newfound fame and focuses on love instead. Admittedly, the romantic subject matter of “Famous” seems mature for someone as young as Ramsey, but what else could we expect from a boy who idolizes Hank Williams?

The fact that Ramsey chose to release a country love song instead of a more topical single allows the opportunity for lasting impact. “Famous” shows that the self-proclaimed “country boy” isn’t just trying to capitalize on his social media fame; he is trying to create authentic music inspired by his heroes, namely Williams (in his viral video, Ramsey covers Williams’ “Lovesick Blues”). And this approach is working; the single already has millions of streams on Spotify and the music video has more than seven million views on YouTube.

For us, Ramsey has always been more than just a meme. Although the idea of yodeling in Walmart is funny, his genuine talent is captivating. Instead of being just a funny video, it is also a pleasant listening experience, just like “Famous.” Ramsey’s sweet, youthful voice combined with mature lyrics are present in both.

The key to “Famous” is that it can be enjoyed out of context. A person can still appreciate Ramsey’s new single without having seen the Walmart video. Nor does one necessarily need to be aware of Ramsey’s young age, since the melody and lyrical content feel similar to the type of country music that’s played on the radio.

This is an important distinction. For social media sensations, accumulating thousands of Instagram followers and booking a guest appearance on Ellen is the easy part. The real challenge is staying relevant, which few of these sensations manage to do. The novelty of “the yodeling Walmart boy” will inevitably wear off, so it’s up to Ramsey to show that he has real talent beneath it all.

Overall, “Famous” is a solid first single and it has a chance of setting Ramsey up for lasting fame. The only thing we feel is missing in “Famous” is Ramsey’s famous yodeling.

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