Shailesh Kapoor: Yo Yo Honey Singh: TV’s Latest Superstar

18 Jul,2014

By Shailesh Kapoor


Last week’s TV ratings released yesterday, saw Colors take the No 3 spot again. A quick look at the programme performance revealed that a key contributor to their small but significant growth was the Comedy Nights With Kapil episode telecast on July 6. That episode rated a cool 63% more than the average performance of the show over the last month. So who featured in this magic episode that broke all rules of momentum? Salman Khan? Shahrukh Khan?


The answer is: Yo Yo Honey Singh.


Yes, the singer-composer-performer, famous for his innovative (some may call them cheesy) rap numbers, and infamous for misogynistic lyrics from his past, is now a television star too. When you have 63% impact on TV ratings, you are a real mass star, someone who has the ability to influence audiences across markets and age groups.


Yo Yo Honey Singh’s popularity has grown dramatically over the last year, since the launch of Lungi Dance (Chennai Express) in end July 2013. The chart below, based on Ormax Music Stars, a popularity rating of singers, composers and lyricists, shows how his popularity share has grown from 4% before Lungi Dance to 23% today.



The Comedy Nights episode in question (watch here) gives an insight into why the man is so popular. There is a natural ‘rockstar’ attitude he exudes, and when combined with his ability to use contemporary language in his lyrics, it makes for a heady combination.


Often questioned about the use of ‘risqué’ lyrics in his songs, especially those involving liquor and ‘objectification’ of women, Honey Singh has been very forthcoming in his answers, be in Anupama Chopra’s show earlier this year or the Comedy Nights episode linked above. He maintains a consistent line of argument, suggesting that his lyrics are potentially no less controversial than some of the classic melodies of the past, but for their use of modern lingo making them come across as such.


Criticism, especially from the media and the elite, has rarely affected mass stars. With his ever-growing popularity among kids, teenagers and youth, and a widening net extending to markets outside North India, Yo Yo Honey Singh probably considers the criticism an integral part of his image, and not necessarily a negative part.


A quick visit to his Facebook page gives us a validation of his popularity. 22 million fans is no mean feat. But the mention of “business agents & contacts” on the masthead tells you that he’s still coming to terms with his stardom. Imagine Ranbir Kapoor or Alia Bhatt putting their agent details on the social media?


But this element of ‘tackinesus’ may have worked in Honey Singh’s favor, finding him fans in the masses, even as most young stars, ranging from singers (Arijit Singh) and actors (Siddharth Malhotra) continue to be driven by the bigger cities.


Star Plus is launching Raw Star with Honey Singh soon. Given their overall dominance, the channel’s non-fiction record in recent years has bordered on being embarrassing. But they now have solid ammunition at their disposal: The TV star who can give 63% jump in ratings of a long-running show. Ironically then, the Comedy Nights ratings would have probably led to more celebrations at Star than at Colors.


I hope our media gives Yo Yo Honey Singh more coverage. Else, we may be missing out on some very insightful stories around the making of a superstar.


TV Trails is a weekly column written by Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO of media insights firm Ormax Media. He spent nine years in the television industry before turning entrepreneur. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached at his Twitter handle @shaileshkapoor


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