In the music video for "Slow Dancing in the Dark", Joji (born George Miller) stumbles around as a half-human, half-goat creature shot in the back by cupid's arrow, until his legs become too weak, and he face plants on a group of white tiles, waiting to bleed out. Since its release in September, the video as amassed 30 million views.
It's a different approach from Miller's first worldwide viral video. In it, he and a few friends are dancing in his bedroom to Baauer's "Harlem Shake" song. They're casual at first, with Miller slowly humping the air in his now famous pink spandex onesie, but when the beat drops, the friends go crazy, jumping everywhere. This short clip, sandwiched in a compilation video of Miller's, started the international "Harlem Shake" craze, which you may have seen performed by offices, firefighters, skydivers, or the Norwegian army.
So yes, Miller knows how to create viral content. Over the years, he's been known for his multiple comedic personas: DizastaMusic, Filthy Frank, Pink Guy and more. The difference with Joji, his first truly successful serious character, is now he's making stuff he wants to hear.
Miller calls his "Dancing in the Dark" ballad an attempt to write "some Celine Dion shit". But it's more than an imitation, it's Joji's re-imagination of what a ballad has to be, piecing together R&B, electronic, trip-hop and punk into an ambient, moody track. As Genius notes, he uses the metaphor of slow dancing in the dark to characterize a failing relationship—just like a slow dance where you can’t see your partner’s face, the relationship is intimate, but impersonal and lost, they can't find their way forward. It may seem ironic coming from Miller, who's always found a way back to the spotlight and success, but somehow, it feels that this may truly be his first authentic character.
Listen to "Dancing in the Dark", watch some Harlem Shake videos, and let us know what you think of Joji!
You can learn more about Joji here:
About the curator - Cormac McGee
Cormac McGee is a DJ, artist manager and concert promoter based in Toronto, Canada. He’s played in front of crowds from 10 – 1,000 people and has run concerts with some of today’s top hip hop artists, including Drake, Future, Mac Miller, 6lack, Ab-Soul and more. He also runs the Music Den at Ryerson University, a business incubator for entrepreneurs in the music industry.