Know Your Meme proudly present our very first Memeys Internet Music Awards! For this year’s inaugural event, we compiled an epic list of YouTube videos in the music category to honor the best, the worst and the weird of pop music as well as viral YouTube songs that took off in 2011. So without further ado, here are the winners and runner-up nominees:
YouTube Artist of the Year
Mac Lethal is the stage name of American rapper David McCleary Sheldon who is best known for his rapid-fire style of rapping and running the single topic blog “Texts from Bennett.” Although the rapper from the Midwest has been actively showcasing his music through YouTube since 2006, Mac Lethal rose to internet fame only recently in 2011 with his challenge response to Watsky’s “Pale Kid Raps Fast” video in January 2011 and his seemingly effortless cover of Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” while making breakfast in December 2011. The “breakfast rap” video went on to gain over 21 million views in just over two months.
331Erock is a hard rock guitarist who is best known for covering fan-requested songs in style of heavy metal. The instrumentalist has covered numerous Internet-relevant songs in 2011, including Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain,” Rebecca Black’s “Friday” and My Little Pony theme songs among others.
Karmin is a YouTube music duo made up of Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan, who are best known for their cover renditions of pop songs including Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now”, Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” The group first received major exposure after being discussed on Reddit in April 2011 and in two months shy of one year, Karmin has gained more than 150 million views on their YouTube channel. In June 2011, the group announced that they had been signed with Epic Records.
ViolinTay is a YouTube instrumentalist who regularly presents classical and strings renditions of popular video game theme songs. The violinist’s impressive collection of theme song covers found a new audience in late 2011, when she uploaded an inspiring classical arrangement of theme songs from The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind and Skyrim. The video went viral upon release and accumulated 1.8 million views in the span of two months.
Epic Rap Battle of History is an online battle rap project launched by YouTubers Nice Peter and Lloyd Ahlquist. In each episode, Peter and Ahlquist dress up in costumes as two well-known historical people and battle rap against each other with occasional guest rappers making appearance as other well-known public figures.
Pop Artist of the Year
First of the Year (Equinox) is a dubstep song (with elements of electro-house) produced by Skrillex as the lead single for his third EP More Monsters and Sprites. The music video was uploaded to YouTube on August 17th, 2011 and received over 35 million views within six months.
LMFAO became a viral sensation with their heavily remixed hit “Party Rock Anthem”, spawning a slew of parody videos and image macros.
Adele brought home 6 Grammy awards for her album Rolling in the Deep, named after the lead single of the album.
Worst Artist of the Year
Rebecca Black arguably needs no further introduction than her name. The Orange County teenager first rose to international stardom in March 2011 after her debut single and music video “Friday” became the laughing stock of YouTube community for its formulaic and lackluster style. Despite the record-breaking count of downvotes, Black took advantage of her one-of-a-kind internet fame by making cameo appearance in Katy Perry’s music video Last Friday Night and further releasing singles My Moment and Person of Interest. In December 2011, Google revealed that “Rebecca Black” was the fastest rising search keyword of the year.
Nickelback returned onto the music scene (whatever that is) with the release of their seventh studio album “Here and Now,” which inspired a short-lived bait and switch video meme dubbed “Nickelrolling” (as in “Rickrolling”).
Lana Del Ray put herself on the map of mainstream music scene with her self-branded “geek-chic” appeal and built an epic hype around her recently released album “Born to Die” with viral YouTube singles like “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans.”
HEART2HEART is one of the latest additions to the unofficial list of Internet’s most hated pop bands. Crafted by Lance Bass, a former member of the 90s boy band N’sync, Heart2Heart’s debut single “Facebook Unofficial” was instantly met with ridicules and online parodies.
Justin Bieber is well, you know. Certain things never change.
YouTube DJ of the Year
Pogo is an electronic music artist from Perth, Australia that is famous for making remix videos out of films and television shows to make music. His first YouTube hit Alice accumulated over 8.4 million views in 4 years since it’s debut on July 18th, 2007. In January this year, he uploaded a mix using samples from the 1990’s American television show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Melodysheep is the YouTube name for John Boswell, who became well known for his Symphony of Science music project featuring auto-tuned footage of famous scientists mixed into mashups of Boswell’s own compositions.
Everywhere of the Year
Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya! is a Vocaloid song originally produced by Japanese remix artist DaniwellP and uploaded via Nico Nico Douga on July 25th, 2010. The song spawned dozens of remixes and MAD videos throughout the year, but gained much of its international popularity in April 2011, when comic illustrator PRguitarman introduced a remix titled “Nyan Cat” starring a flying kitten with the body of a strawberry pop tart.
Although “Power” by Kanye West had its debut in August 2010, the song’s popularity lasted throughout the following year, particularly for video game trailers that were premiered at E3 2011.
“Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO was the second runner-up on our list of the most overplayed and the most remixed song of 2011.
“Friday” by Rebecca Black surprised both YouTube and mainstream pop when she was dubbed the fast rising search keyword of the year, according to Google’s 2011 Zeitgeist report.
“Pumped Up Kicks” by the indie pop band Foster the People stood at #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for 8 consecutive weeks and inspired the Dubstep remix used in a viral video starring professional dancer Marquese Scott.
Dance of the Year
Party Rock Anthem is an electro-pop dance song by LMFAO from their second studio album Sorry for Party Rocking. The music video, which is a parody of the 2002 horror film 28 Days Later, features the duo and a group of shuffle dancers that were chosen through an online contest in January 2011. Since its YouTube debut in March 2011, the song accumulated over 374 million views and hundreds of awesome mashups & remixes (as of February 2012).
The Awkward Friend Dance by Benni Cinkle in Rebecca Black’s “Friday” music video also became a parody sensation following the song’s debut in March 2011.
Lotus Flower by Radiohead shed a new light on the versatile range of the frontman singer Thom Yorke, whose dance became a subject of animated GIF parodies. Since its debut in February 2011, the song gained over 35 million views.
The Creep is Lonely Island’s parody of hip hop dance fads featuring hip hop diva Nicki Minaj.
Pony by Ginuwine may be an old 90s song disappearing into pop culture obscura, but self-recordings of people dancing to the song became a notable trend with the rise of single topic Tumblr Dancing Alone to Pony.
Live Show FAIL of the Year
In this live show FAIL, Beyonce goes up to a fan who sounds like she’s yelling “You’re amazing!” to the singer. After a brief moment, Beyonce takes the microphone back.
CNN Music Fail: During a story about a 103 year old Pennsylvanian woman who is still an active driver, CNN cut to a not-so-appropriate Wacka Flocka song. They quickly apologized for their mistake, but several YouTubers made their own unfitting music remixes.
Wrong Lyrics Christina: At the 2011 Super Bowl, Christina Aguliera came out to open the show with a rousing rendition of the national anthem. However, she forgot some of the words. Since the internet never forgets, her faux pas evolved into an advice animal.
Lana Del Rey’s SNL Performance: When Lana Del Rey made her SNL debut on January 14th, 2012, many celebrities and critics responded with harsh reviews, calling her performance lackluster and lacking stage presence.
Guitar Swing Gone Wrong: During a live performance in Ohio by the rock band Still Waiting, guitarist Mason went to spin his instrument around. He did not expect how far the guitar would spin.
Remix of the Year
Souljaquest is a mashup by YouTuber OniMorter which combines YouTuber NeilCicierega’s “Brodyquest” with the American rapper Soulja Boy’s “So Fresh.” The remix accumulated over 450,000 views within 8 months.
Ke$ha ft. Nigel Thornberry stood out as one of the best Nigel Thornberry remixes and accumulated over 390,000 views within 7.5 months.
Bob Dylanesque cover of “Friday” was one of the early parodies of Rebecca Black’s viral hit, featuring an amazing impersonation of Bob Dylan by YouTuber Mike Bauer.
TacNayn Remix of Nyan Cat was a reverse concept of the lovably cute Nyan Cat invented by Cheezburger staff Ben Huh and Frankie Crescioni. The original remix video received over 1.2 million views within 10 months.
Cover Song of the Year
YouTube pop duo Karmin‘s feisty cover of Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” took the Internet by storm in April 2011, even setting a trend of “white girl rapping fast” (for the lack of a better term) videos on YouTube. Tens of millions of views later in June, the duo signed with Epic Records for an upcoming album of their own songs in 2012.
Canadian indie band Walk off the Earth’s cover of Belgian-Australian singer Goyte’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” has been running on YouTube only since January 2012, but the eye-dazzling performance of 10 hands on an acoustic guitar has brought in over 53 million views in its first month (see also: original music video).
Sophia Grace & Rosie’s adorable cover of Nicki Minaj’s “SuperBass” accumulated over 50 million views in the span of five months and eventually led to their duo performance with Minaj on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
A junior musical trio Vazquez Sounds’ cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” made them an overnight sensation in Mexico and the United States, earning over 42 million views in its first three months on YouTube and some interview opportunities on Spanish television and CNN.
New York City subway construction worker Garry Ruso’s soothing lunchtime tribute to Frank Sinatra in August 2011 earned him the nickname “Subway Sinatra.” Dat crooning.
Viral Achievement of the Year
Although her internet fame was short-lived, YouTuber CathyMay15’s courageous tributes to classic and contemporary pop songs genuinely made the day for many of us on the Internet. We humbly recognize her courageous and truly unique contributions with our very first Memeys Viral Achievement Award.