'Zenga Zenga' Auto-Tune Spreads Across Middle East

February 28, 2011

Regional Popularity
In the United States, autotune has met politics plenty of times -- see: State of the Union and Rent Is Too Damn High -- but now the phenomenon has spread to the Middle East where a video from Israel of Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi has been drawing lots of attention.

Both the original and an edit without the dancing women are among Most Viewed videos in Israel -- where it originated -- and as of Sunday evening, it was also one of YouTube's overall top spiking searches, as the video continued to draw global attention.

According to viewing data, the video was definitely popular in some countries before others, indicating viral spread throughout the region. For example, prior to Sunday, when the video picked up over 500,000 views, the video spiked in Jordan and Egypt before it rose sharpest in Israel. The video has also drawn tens of thousands of views in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and now the United States.

The autotune phenomenon began with a musical trend started by Cher's "Believe" and, famously, T-Pain, but quickly became a new parodists' tool of choice with online videomakers as it allows the user to turn any spoken piece of audio into a funny slice of pop culture.

Here in the United States, the Gregory Brothers saw big success spoofing current events, strange news, and politicians in 2010, but it seems "Auto-tuning the news" has now officially become an even more global phenomenon.