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“Shoes” is a comedy music video created by American actor and comedian Liam Kyle Sullivan and uploaded via YouTube in May 2006. The video became well known for its satire of the “materialistic American girl” stereotype, portrayed through Sullivan’s fictional character named “Kelly.”
Liam Kyle Sullivan created the character “Kelly” as a stereotypical American girl who enjoys shopping, texting and dating, portraying her by cross-dressing with a blonde wig, leather jacket and striped knee-high socks. Inspired by the titular character from Napoleon Dynamite and MTV cartoon character Butthead, Sullivan has described her personality as “kind of bored and everything sucks [to her], except for shoes.” Sullivan began incorporating Kelly into his stand-up comedy act in 2005, performing the song live a handful of times before committing it to video. The full “Shoes” music video with an introductory skit was originally uploaded to his personal website in 2006.
On May 5th, 2006, he uploaded a shortened version to his YouTube account, liamkylesullivan. Over six years, the abridged version garnered 3.8 million views. In February 2007, after the success of the music video, Sullivan re-uploaded the full version with the skit in tact to his YouTube account, which has 46,744,651 views and 771,681 Facebook shares as of May 2012.
In June 2006, the video was featured on Entertainment Weekly twice, with recommendation from comedians Margaret Cho and the Lonely Island’s Andy Samberg. Two months later, Sullivan released his first album as Kelly on iTunes, where it has received 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 1040 ratings. At the time, he also maintained a MySpace account for Kelly, which still has over 140,000 friends as of May 2012.
In 2007, Kelly guest-starred in an episode of the VH1 comedy Series I Hate My 30s, where Sullivan was a recurring cast member. Additionally, Kelly went on tour with Margaret Cho’s variety show The Sensuous Woman, where he performed “Shoes” and “Let Me Borrow That Top” live. In 2008, Sullivan took home a People’s Choice Award for favorite user-generated performance, beating out Chocolate Rain, Daft Hands and Leave Britney Alone. TIME placed the video at number 19 on their list of the 50 best YouTube videos of all time in 2010.
As of May 2012, Sullivan’s YouTube channel has 304,872 subscribers and 152,919,607, averaging out to 69,414 views per day. On Last.fm, Kelly has over 391,000 plays. Sullivan also maintains a Twitter and Facebook fan page for his projects.