Buzzfeed has a fantastic round-up of the 100 Best Memes of the Decade you should read.
Inspired by that A+ quality journalism, I did some thinking about some of my favorite memes and how they impacted my life in the last 10 years. Luckily I have all kinds of content to go back and revisit.
The Harlem Shake, Double Rainbow, Bronies, Gangnam Style, Nickelbacking and more!
The Harlem Shake
This was a huge hit at my house – in part because someone made a mobile app that allowed you to quickly record your version of it.
Here are 5 videos of just my kids doing it: THE HARLEM SHAKE, STARRING THE SWAN FAMILY
I was on vacation at some point when this was blowing up, and my coworkers recorded this in my office and texted it to me. That’s a lot of people for a small office.
Later, I hosted a bunch of students for a Pro-Am day and made them record a Harlem Shake of their own. About a year ago one of these young people (now a professional, mind you) told me it was the single most memorable moment of her career:
There was a time when EVERYBODY was talking about the Double Rainbow guy.
At work, we celebrated being named Digital Firm of the Year with a double rainbow cake
And then I played the video for my in-laws. There is a long history of me playing viral videos for them and them giving him quizzical expressions, like “Okay, Greg…. cool. Is it over?”
I remember reading about grown men obsessed with My Little Ponies, called Bronies. But it wasn’t until I watched a documentary called “A Brony Tale” in 2014 and saw this Led Zeppelin-inspired “Friendship is Magic” shirt that I actually started getting into the series.
Err… ummm… no I mean that I ordered this shirt and learned to draw a couple My Little Ponies so I could troll my daughter. Yeah, that’s it…
I frequently cite this Gizmodo story, Gangnam Style Broke YouTube’s View Counter, where that the viral video for Gangnam Style had its views stall out at 2,147,483,647 views.
That is apparently the maximum number that can be held by a 32-bit integer slot. YouTube’s developers just never expected something to get that high.
It’s fixed now. And the video is at 3.4 billion views (and climbing!).
And I’m glad my kids are no longer doing this dance and yelling “Hey Sexy Lady!” and instead are just doing the Fortnite dances that involve no yelling.
A key part of my conference presentations and keynotes in the early 2010s involved trolling Nickelback. I’ll admit I once saw Nickelback live and probably clapped. Or maybe I saw Creed live. I can’t remember. They’re not the same right?
There was a period where Nickelback was becoming extremely popular with the mainstream masses, and it was super easy to get a rise out of people by talking about how terrible they were.
I would play this track that shows that their hit singles could be layered atop each other and line up, and that would really bother people.
Then, this thing called “Nickelbacking” started – a trend similar to Rick Rolling – where you try to get people to listen to Nickelback as a joke. I began to implore people not to do that, as the band was profiting from the joke streams. That got shared around quite a bit. Most of the links are dead, since my music blog is dead now.
A band wrote a guest post for my music blog called “7 Ways a Nickelback CD Can Help You Survive a Plan Crash” that included things like using it as anesthetic while you’re sawing off your friend’s limb.
I spent a lot of the last decade publicly poking this band, and as a result, people bring them up to me often. Send me news about them. Act like it’s still a bit I’m doing. But it’s not!
So I’m hopeful the 2020s won’t involve people remind me of Nickelback all the time. It’s the meme that won’t stop giving.
What Does the Fox Say?
What does the fox say? Ask your Alexa. Really. Try it!
Ylvis’ “What Does the Fox Say” was pervasive and an absolute ear-worm. It’s hard to believe it was only six years ago that this song was blaring everywhere.
Here is a video of my kids watching a video of themselves watching the What Does the Fox Say video…
Sadly, the below Vine video I recorded of my son watching What Does the Fox Say on Google Glass is no longer available – in part because neither Google Glass or Vine is a thing now. RIP.
Last winter was so cold we almost forgot to make memes about it!
My kids had yet another “cold day” off from school – which is a big deal for Minnesota – and I said “let’s make something go viral!” And we did! You can read all about it here.
Two kids thought it was hilarious. One was embarrassed.
And someone on Reddit went deep and used my house number to reverse search me and tell me everything about myself they could find online. That wasn’t creepy at all!
So those are some of my favorite memes of the decade. What will be the most memorable memes and cultural hooks of the next 10 years? Only one thing is for certain: they will be weird AF.
For the record, I’m still a fan of Rick-Rolling people, which is actually a 2007-2009 meme, but I’m never gonna give it up…