Thump, Thump, Clap

by Jette-Mari Anni

Chances are, you just read the title in your head with thousands of feet stumping at once, followed by a united massive clap. There’s also a decent possibility it automatically repeated the sound in your head a few times with Freddie Mercury’s voice taking over, and now that song won’t leave your head for the next 24 hours. Why? Because you have a visceral memory of experiencing the echo of ten thousand feet and hands live at a concert, or maybe you were taught how to join in the rhythm as a kid at a birthday party. Whatever your personal experience leans you toward, you remember some sort of participation. “We Will Rock You” was such a simple concept made popular in 1977 by Queen that changed the music world.

Before the song was written by the iconic band, people who didn’t belong to a band had no reason to participate in music as creators. They were consumers – they danced to it, looked for it, listened to it, dreamed of being part of those cool kids on the stage, but few were able to create together with the legends. However, your limbs and other parts of your body had been yearning to be part of it through some sort of clapping, nodding, snapping, and now they were. With Mercury teaching everyone to keep the beat from the stage, the crowd suddenly became activated. The catchiness and simplicity of the movement made it easy to memorize and carry with you wherever you went next. Soon, the whole world was going crazy. Even today, should someone start the rhythm, everyone will know to join in a heartbeat.

This set a trend for the industry that still stands. Almost any artist will use a moment at their concert to teach the crowd a quick split melody, a harmony, or a beat. This way, the audience is no longer a passive consumer enjoying themselves – they’ll be high on serotonin. They feel one with each other and with their idols on the stage. This is a little nudge that has made people call in to radio stations to request a song, or participate in game shows on TV. What did the internet do?

The biggest success story would be Spotify, which enabled people to create their own playlists and then share them with others. They could even enable people to join in and co-create a playlist for a party or for a certain mood. Spotify allowed listeners to become part of the algorithm by allowing them to mark whether or not they enjoyed a suggested song, and a newsfeed bar tells you all the music your friends are enjoying in real-time. From that base, TikTok, previously Musicly, created a platform for people to record themselves singing the same tunes, duet with the artists, or even create their own harmonies. They all let us into the secret world of rock stars to join them for something special.

However, what Spotify currently doesn’t have is a messaging function that allows us to connect with each other directly. That’s why many people still tune into their favorite radio stations. There, they know the DJs, they know the other listeners, and they share something very important in common – their favorite type of music. It’s a special bond between you and us here at WONC! We all get to enjoy our favorite rock music, and you participate through requesting songs and engaging through social media and phone calls. Your stories and preferences shape our station. We can’t wait to create together with you!