Adele ‘Butterdance’ Video Explained

So there’s a mildly viral thing that’s doing the rounds in which a very stern faced lady in a little black dress and formal shoes attempts to perform a dance routine on top of a pile of butter, to the tune of “Someone Like You” by Adele.

You might want to pause a moment to read that paragraph again, if you’ve not seen the video. Ready? OK.

Now, as is often the case with internet excitement, the level of hysteria is not matched in any way with the level of understanding as to what is going on. So here is the video:

And here are the facts:

1: It’s not in any sense about Adele. The original video is a piece of performance art from 2010, in which Melati Suryodarmo does indeed walk (and fall over) on butter, but to the soundtrack of some tribal drumming:

2: Consequently it cannot be said to be a commentary on Adele’s weight as a high-profile media figure. It’s unlikely to be about the media in any sense.

3: Speaking about her work in general (on her website), Melati says this: “I aim to create a concentrated level of intensity without the use of narrative structures. Talking about politics, society or psychology makes no sense to me if the nerves are not able to digest the information. I love it when a performance reaches a level of factual absurdity.”

4: It’s pretty clear she has achieved this.

5: It’s unclear as to why the person who changed the soundtrack of the video decided to go with Adele’s song, what mental process happened which assisted the jump from Melati and butter to Adele. Maybe it’s better not to follow that line of questioning too far, it might prove to be offensive.

6: There is clearly nothing in the world that cannot be set to the soundtrack of “Someone Like You” by Adele and come out looking a little more dignified (at first). That’s clearly why it’s funny.

These are all the facts.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 13 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Music.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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