Anatomy of a (Somewhat) Viral Video

When my good friend Marie Hui and I got together to record our latest Canucks collaboration last Thursday night, little did we know that the video would go somewhat viral. I say “somewhat” because it’s not like we’re pushing 1,000,000 views or even 100,000 views. But with over 20,000 views in its first two days (it’s at 27,000 views as I write this), it has certainly been a pleasant surprise and it’s well on its way to being my most-viewed video on YouTube (only the Ultimate Canucks Haiku stands in its way…haha).

So how does a goofy song about the new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks become so popular?

Actually, it all started exact a week before I published the video. On Friday, June 21, I had the day off work so I stopped by YVR in the early afternoon to see if I could get a glimpse of John Tortorella arriving in Vancouver. I got a whopping 27 seconds of video an uploaded it to YouTube that afternoon and by the next day it had already garnered 2,000 hits. Hockey fans were obviously intrigued by the possibility of Tortorella coaching the Canucks, and it gave me an indication of the interest here.

Monday (June 24): The Vancouver Canucks call a press conference for Tuesday – likely to introduce John Tortorella as the new head coach.

Monday @ 3:45pm: I’m driving a co-worker to the Bridgeport Skytrain station and I tell him of my desire to do a Canucks song about John Tortorella. Within 15 seconds of tossing around song ideas, I begin singing Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and I change the words to “You can play under John Tortorella ella ella eh eh eh.” The idea is born.

Monday @ 3:58pm: After dropping my friend off, I immediately call Marie with my idea. She jumps on board right away and we plan to get together on Thursday night to record, hoping that no one else will have the same idea and get it out before us.

Monday @ 9:12pm: My buddy Paul (@perwin74) tweets: “Will @CanuckClay parody the Rihanna song Umbrella when the Tortorella hire is announced tomorrow? Tortorella, ella, ella, eh eh eh…” I get the tweet while at a meeting and I message him right away asking him to delete the tweet. I tell him that great minds must think alike…but I don’’t want anyone else to take the idea. Paul indeed deletes it right away, and after a couple of mutual admiration tweets I tell him to look for it on Friday.

Tuesday (June 25) @ 9:01am: The Vancouver Canucks send out a tweet and post a message on their website officially announcing John Tortorella as the new head coach. He holds his first press conference at 1pm.

Thursday (June 27) @ 1:45am: I begin writing the lyrics for the song. I want to include quotes from his press conference from Tuesday. So I work in lyrics about the Sedins blocking shots and killing penalties and Tortorella’s famous line “If you’re a good loser, you’re a loser.”

Thursday @ 2:01am: I finish writing the lyrics and I email them to Marie.

Thursday@ 10:24pm: I tweet a picture of my living room complete with the camera and of course, the piano.


Thursday @ 10:30pm: Marie arrives to my house right on schedule. Thankfully the kids don’t have school the next day! Gail and Jacob remain upstairs however for the reminder of the evening while Sean and Kayla hang out with Marie and me.

Thursday @ 11:01pm: After a few minutes of practicing (Marie singing, me playing the piano, and Sean filming), Marie insists that Sean and I join her in the choruses. She spends about 20 minutes teaching us parts that her opinion will make the sound a lot more full.

Thursday @ 11:29pm: We record our first take (with Sean singing from behind the camera) and then play it back for review. While we like some things, there are a few parts we want to tidy up.

Thursday @ 11:39pm: We record our second take and decide to keep it as our final despite both Sean and I losing our way a bit during our parts haha.

Thursday @ 11:55pm: Marie leaves while I pull out the computer to start uploading the footage.

Friday (June 28) @ 1:49am: I text Marie to tell her that the video is done and is uploading to YouTube.

Friday @ 2:45am: Video is uploaded to YouTube and I compose a couple of posts both for my own website and for Canucks Hockey Blog. I schedule a tweet for 3 hours later at 6am and go to bed.


Friday @ 7:35am: I awake to the sound of my phone buzzing constantly (in silent mode) beside my bed. A few people had already started to share the video.

Friday @ 7:55am: Canucks Hockey Blog tweets out the video and posts it on its Facebook page.


Friday @ 8:32am: I tweet the video out again and then compose tweets to the Vancouver Canucks, Team 1040, and a few Canucks blogs among others. I also put it on my Facebook page.

Friday @ 9:06am: Paul DeBron (@MiltSeagull) of the Team 1040 retweets the video with a simple comment of “Yes!”

Friday @ 9:17am: I tweet back to Paul granting him permission to play a snippet on air…in reality I was asking him to play it haha.

Friday @ 9:41am: Harrison Mooney of Pass it to Bulis (@passittobulis) writes a blog about the video and tweets it out.


Friday @ 9:43am: Marie tweets the video out and puts it on her Facebook page.

Friday @ 9:45am: Paul plays some of the song on the Team 1040 and guest co-host Perry Solkowski (@ctvperry) takes a very strong liking to it – suggesting he’ll find a way to get it onto the news.

Friday @ 12:29pm: Chris Palliser (@chris_palliser) plays a snippet on the Beat 94.5.

Friday afternoon: The Vancouver Canucks put the video on its home page.

Friday afternoon: First Reddit post.

Friday afternoon: The YouTube hit counter is stuck at “301+ views”…a good sign that there had been a lot of traffic.

Friday @ 6:55pm: True to his word, Perry Solkowski plays a bit of the video on the CTV News.

Friday @ 8:00pm: YouTube hit count at 1,400 views.

Friday @ 9:19pm: YouTube hit count at 2,700 views.

Saturday (June 29) @ 12:23am: YouTube hit count at 5,000 views.

Saturday @ 2:51am: YouTube hit count at 6,300 views.

Saturday @ 9:26am: YouTube hit count at 9,000 views.

Saturday @ 12:00pm: The Vancouver Canucks share it from their official Twitter account.


Saturday @ 12:07pm: YouTube hit count at 9,900 views.

Saturday @ 4:19pm: Global BC posts a web article featuring an interview with Marie.


Saturday @ 9:24pm: YouTube hit count at 15,000 views.

Sunday (June 30) @ 12:50am: YouTube hit count at 18,000 views.

Sunday @ 10:49am: YouTube hit count at 21,500 views.

Monday (July 1) @ 1:32am: YouTube hit count at 25,000 views.

Monday @ 10:21pm: YouTube hit count at 27,000 views.


The hits have slowed down a bit over the last couple of days and I anticipate the final number will end up between 30,000 and 40,000 views. Perhaps it may get popular again as the season starts in the fall. Our timing was very good as we got a couple of days of attention before the events of Sunday with the draft and the surprising Cory Schneider trade.

As for why the video is appealing? I have settled on 4 main reasons:
1. Marie Hui. Marie is a superstar in every sense of the word. She has such a powerful voice and she is very beautiful – a striking combination. She brings a great energy and cool vibe to the song. Much more cool than the guy playing the piano.
2. Rihanna’s original song is extremely popular. Almost everyone has heard the original, which makes this parody much more identifiable.
3. The lyrics. I’ll be the first to admit that some of the lyrics for my past Canucks songs are a bit cheesy. But not this one…I think every phrase fits well and more importantly has meaning. The “Ella ella eh eh eh” is obviously vital to the song.
4. Canucks fans are extremely intrigued by John Tortorella. As we continue to learn more about him, Canucks fans will likely gobble up whatever they can until the season starts.

We appreciate all of the support over the past few days. Thanks for the feedback and for sharing the video via Twitter and Facebook. Of course, having big guns like the Vancouver Canucks, CTV, Global BC, Team 1040, Beat 94.5, and various Canucks blogs share the video has been extremely helpful in getting the views up.

But just as important are the shares by our family and friends. Thank you for taking the time to watch and listen and share!

We don’t aspire to be YouTube stars. We’re just grateful for an avenue to express our creativity and our passion for the team.