The red bowtie, the classic white shirt, the large belt buckle and the black boots: the easily recognizable outfit could belong to no one else besides Mason Ramsey, aka the yodeling Walmart kid, the world’s latest viral obsession. Though he started at Walmart, Ramsey has been stealing hearts on bigger and bigger platforms since then, moving from the mattress section up to “The Ellen Show” and, last weekend, Coachella.
Ramsey’s story began in Harrisburg, Illinois, in a local Walmart, where, with his foot sporadically tapping, he busted out his own rendition of “Lovesick Blues” by Hank Williams for an unsuspecting audience. The original uploaded video now has over 2 million views and 500,000 retweets.
According to his family, Ramsey has been singing since he was about 3 years old, after he listened to his grandfather’s Hank Williams records. He has been performing since he turned 4, playing for crowds at different establishments and even winning contests.
The young yodeler been involved in multiple local radio interviews, giving him a fair share of popularity around town, but it was not until the viral video of him at Walmart that he really got his name out there.
Comically dubbed the yodeling Walmart kid, among other nicknames, Ramsey and his videos have spawned a tide of jokes and memes on social media. “I want the yodeling Walmart kid to sing at my funeral,” said Twitter user @yummyyemma. Another user, @_petty_crocker, said, “little boy yodeling in walmart is my 2018 aesthetic.”
I want the yodeling Walmart kid to sing at my funeral
— Emma (@yummyyemma) April 2, 2018
In addition to the tweets, the video has given way to several remixes of his cover, one of which put an EDM twist on the solo so catchy that clubs have been airing it. While at first glance all of the attention may seem positive, some people have directed a fair share of malice toward Ramsey.
Unfortunately, haters were quick to try to rag on the young musician, poking fun at his clothing and his style of singing. “When you’re in your goofy ass costume yodeling in a Walmart, you’re basically a living stereotype and it’s really no wonder he’s being made fun of,” said a user on Reddit.
“I saw it on the news and thought ‘Okay? That’s pretty cool I guess??’ and thought nothing else of it. I could produce a realistic hawk noise on the city bus and still go viral,” said another critic.
But, after more videos surfaced of Ramsey singing, it became apparent just how talented the yodeling Walmart kid actually was.
Yodeling itself is really no easy feat. According to the Smithsonian, the singing style requires a vocal technique that involves a variety of drawn-out pitches that are formed in the head and chest registers, and requires the singer to quickly toggle between the two registers to make a sound that goes from high to low to high with distinct breaks between notes.
As for why the yodeling Walmart kid went viral, well, there are a few factors that come into play.
First, the video itself is very out of context; a young child wearing a seemingly outlandish outfit, singing an uncommon style of music in a Walmart is sure to turn a few heads.
Age also seems to be a factor in a meme’s ability to go viral, as the younger the star, the more fame and attention they appear to get. Ramsey is not the first child to go viral, and he certainly won’t be the last. Before the yodeling Walmart kid there were other child stars, such as Lil Mushroom, Noah Ritter and the brother from the “Charlie Bit My Finger” video, just to name a few.
After his impromptu Coachella appearance and performance, the future looks bright for Ramsey. Ellen gifted him a $15,000 check and the opportunity to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, following in the footsteps of famous country singers such as Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Little Jimmy Dickens.
Also, Walmart noticed the viral star and offered him a concert opportunity at the very store he started his career in. It was live-streamed for public enjoyment.
Ramsey’s impact is clear in today’s society, proving that anyone with big dreams and an attitude to match can accomplish anything, regardless of age. While it is inevitable that the next big thing will come along, no one will forget Ramsey anytime soon.